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31 December 2009

our bottom line

I was listening to the December 13 sermon/message podcast from Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA, entitled "Beware of Good Liars - Part 2," and in the podcast, teaching pastor Francis Chan noted that while Cornerstone typically gives away about 50% of its income from tithes and offerings, the following week, December 20, they would be giving 100% of their offerings away. They would give it away to needy people, organizations who fight to prevent human slave and sex trafficking (yes, that goes on, and it's shocking to hear the statistics), and other kinds of "social justice" efforts, both in America and around the world.

Now, I have not yet confirmed that this is what they did, nor do I have specifics on exactly where the money went. But I'm stuck on the fact that they gave away 100% of the money that came in. I don't say this to elevate this church fellowship to some sort of "They have arrived and the rest of the churches in America stink" status, but it immediately made me begin to wonder how the people and leadership at my own church fellowship, and others, would respond to such an idea. Would these be the responses...?

  • I understand what they're trying to do, but our money already goes to kingdom-oriented purposes.
  • We have to take care of the things that God has given us, and then we can turn our attention to the needs of others.
  • What a liberal idea.
  • That's a nice idea, but we live in the real world and have bills to pay and new facilities to build.
  • We need to be focusing on ministry at home before we try to heal all of the world's ills.
No matter what you think of it, this kind of action is quite obviously one that puts the interests of others above self-interests. It's an incredibly Kingdom-focused thing to do. I want to see my own church fellowship begin thinking and acting like this. I want to see it reflected in the thoughts and resulting actions of the Church in America and globally.

So what can I/we do to see that happen? Giving to others at our own expense is exactly what Jesus taught us to do, and we've ostensibly already been teaching that for thousands of years, so to say that we just need to keep on teaching people in our churches to be more Christ-like is, to me, not a very good answer.

(By the way, the title of the post comes from Facebook friend Stacy, who said in response to my tweet about this earlier in the day, "thinking about others and not the bottom line.... oh wait.... church... bottom line.... WAIT the others ARE supposed to be the bottom line for THE CHURCH!")


Robby said...

For most of us, giving away a large percentage of our church income, in the context of your post, is a radical notion...and a goal that I think we should begin moving toward sooner rather than later. How to get to that point? Maybe we should ask ourselves the following question (or something like it) with respect to every penny of every dollar that comes into the church "Given our understanding of God, His heart, and how He is working in our community and world, is this the best use of these funds?" If the honest answer is "no", then we reprioritize until we (in our hearts) feel that we've got the right answer.

Dean Lusk said...

It's crazy to me that what you said would probably be a "hard sell" in most churches. I think people could easily embrace the question you ask, but the opinions would vary wildly, depending upon people's personal preferences. I've found that it's very difficult for most people think from a larger, Kingdom perspective rather than a personal point of view.

One of the key things is to think long-term -- something that I'm not predisposed to do. If the goal is there, then progress can be made toward it.

Robby Newton said...

To me, the key issue is "our understanding of God". An intellectual understanding of God isn't the same as a relational understanding. We need both to be a whole, godly spirit. But it appears to me that we are way out of balance...leaning too much toward the intellectual component.

Leroy said...

"...but the opinions would vary wildly, depending upon people's personal preferences."

This is a good example of how the world's entitlement mentality has made it's way into the church. Sometimes from the congregants, sometimes from the leaders. "My money, I will dictate where it goes." (not saying designating is bad)

We've got to somehow get the negative wordly thinking out of the church. (Yes, there is positive wordly thinking that is useful.)

Robby said...

I like the notion that there would be diversity of opinions based on people's personal preferences. That's a great place to start the dialog. And as long as we are all open to a teachable attitude, we as a body will eventually converge to godly answer(s).

Leroy said...

I agree Robby, but too often we (myself included) think "my way is the 'right' way". How do we foster an attitude of teachability that requires people to think their idea may not be the right one?

Leroy said...

Thanks to my timely wife, I was told that my last comment sounded like I was saying other people (not including myself) are wrong when I stated "their idea".

Better stated this way: "How do we foster an attitude of teachability that requires us to think our idea may not be the right one?" Freudian slip? :)

Robby said...

I don’t confess to having all the answers and I’m not going to do the topic justice in this reply, but I think one thing we are going to need to do is to re-establish a bona-fide trust relationship with the Lord, His ways, and His leading (of course this isn’t needed by all believers). Why, because we’ve been doing the same things for so long without critically examining their worth, or if God is perhaps interested in us doing something else, that meaningful followship of the Holy Spirit is seriously lacking.
Yet, even when we are following the Holy Spirit’s guidance on a corporate scale (it’s an ongoing process), I think we still will have to discern between answers such as; good, better, best, yes, no, and wait.

Anonymous said...

Simple answer for me is-
Everything begins with prayer and nothing happens without prayer.

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