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04 March 2009

The Church and Charity

The other day I took a survey on charitable giving habits. It was an eye-opener.

The first section was on monetary giving, asking that responses not include giving to a church or religious organization. Apparently monetary giving to religious institutions is pretty popular and they were looking for other areas. Just an assumption.

Here's the part that made me think a little more deeply. The survey asked respondents to indicate which of the following they'd personally given time to over the past year:

  • Arts and culture organizations
  • Organizations that serve youth and children
  • Human service organizations (e.g., blood banks, homeless shelters,drug abuse and crisis centers and others)
  • Other health and healthcare organizations
  • Churches or religious organizations
  • Educational organizations (e.g., schools, colleges)
  • Organizations that serve the aging and elderly
  • Community groups and programs (e.g., animal welfare work, public safety, fire and rescue squads, or another organization meeting communityneeds)
  • Disaster relief organizations
  • Hunger relief organizations (e.g., food banks)
  • Conservation and environmental organizations
  • Hospitals
  • Other
  • None of these

Wow. "Churches and religious organizations" got one little bitty line. I've done some personal time investment that's outside of any organized effort, but beyond that I really haven't been involved in many of those areas. How about you?

I've stated in the past that the Church's most popular way of giving is to sit and drop money into a plate that someone puts in front of us. This fosters "easy giving" and allows us to remain uninvolved in our community and uninvolved in actually being the feet that carry the Gospel to the world or being the hands that physically touch the needy -- we remain uninvolved but tell ourselves we've done a very good deed. We're financially helping people to do things that we weren't called to do (like share the Gospel, right?), and that's usually good enough for us.

Have you ever noticed how little ink in the New Testament is used to discuss monetary giving versus how much is used directing us to actually do things besides giving money?

What would it look like if the Church got up, got out, and became involved in some of those "secular" areas of service? Would the world outside begin to understand that we actually do place a high value on people then? (Because I don't think we communicate it very well on the whole.) How about being a part of the physical ministry efforts in which our own church fellowships are engaging? I believe that the average church member rarely does either.

Don't stop giving money to your local church, but don't let that be your only (or your primary) means of helping the needy and spreading the Gospel.


Jerri Landers said...

I hope you are wrong on your statement: "I believe that the average church member rarely does either." I am thinking there are many average church members, such as myself, that are involved in some of the outside organizations listed. We just don't let everyone know...we just do it. Although I am sure there are many more that 'should' get out there and do something. It is quite rewarding and I believe it does make a difference in the 'secular' world. Like I said, I hope you are wrong. It does get me thinking, though... am I doing enough and am I really making a difference? Very thought provoking.

Dean Lusk said...

Thanks for commenting!

Actually, I originally typed that sentence to begin with the phrase, "The fact is..." and upon proofing my stream of consciousness writing, I realized that I definitely couldn't substantiate such a statement. I usually approach things with a healthy dose of skepticism (maybe even pessimism sometimes), so that's what birthed that statement.

It's likely that many readers of this blog will not fall into that category, so if it doesn't apply, don't take it as an accusation! If it does apply, it's okay to take it that way. :-) (*You* shouldn't.)

I love the fact that people don't often announce that they're doing "good things." Evidence of a wonderful, genuine heart.

Leroy said...

Some people NOT doing something IS often times a good thing. :)

Dean Lusk said...

You sayin' I'm sending out mixed signals?!

Heh... I get it. I'm not suggesting that we add to an already-crazy secular or religious activity pace. If you're already doing that, this post doesn't apply to you, either.

Leroy said...

I wasn't implying any particular thing or person, just a comment in general. I didn't think about someone taking as a "woo-hoo, that's me, I'll sit and watch a while". Proverbs 34:17 says "no slacking allowed". :)

[yes, I'm aware there is no Proverbs 34:17]

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