Archive for January 18, 2010

Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8 NKJV).

There isn’t a child of God alive that hasn’t heard this scripture attached to a message on tithing or a capital fundraising campaign. Now, let’s keep the pulpit pimps out of this conversation… this is for the real people doing real stuff for Jesus.

Nonetheless, there seems to be a continued problem with money in today’s churches according to a recent USA Today article.

Citing a national survey by LifeWay research, it seems the Church needs a stimulus package wrapped in swaddling cloths because it ain’t getting it from the people warming the pews:

  • 28% reported raising less money than in 2008.
  • 57% said the poor economy was hurting their church.
  • 70% reported increased requests from people outside their congregation for assistance.
  • 43% budgeted more money to help more needy people.
  • 3% were considering closing down their churches.

Of course, these harrowing statistics don’t include the scheming rallying cries of Rick Warren and Rod Parsley who pleaded for a rapid-fire stimulus package of their own… and got it.

No, these numbers reflect the corner church in your community, the pastor of 40+ years in your neighborhood who loves the Word of God but doesn’t have the benefit of TBN.

In 2009, pleas for cash have rose dramatically while answers for change have decreased at the same rate. Of course, it’s the economy. The question is about the faith side of things though.

“Churches have not yet entered the recovery,” says LifeWay director Ed Stetzer. “Historically, they tend to recover financially when unemployment decreases, usually after the economy as a whole” recovers.

And why is that?

Many, many Christians across the U.S. hear the vitriol of a bill collector on the other side of their phone far more than the comforting, dulcet tones of their pastors. Where do you think their cash goes?

Is that still robbing God or just keeping the lights on?

Full disclosure: I have said before that building this Wall was cathartic for me. I was unemployed for months, with no light at the end of that tunnel. Actually, the only light I could see was a truck speeding toward me to run me over.

Did I tithe? For a few months… and then I bought groceries, paid utilities and made sure my home wasn’t repossessed. Erstwhile was that scripture in Malachi chiming in my head, but I had to believe Jesus knew my heart.

Is it that important to God because I felt guilty?

Crown Financial Ministries says that there are actually about 2,350 verses on finances and possessions in the Bible. That is more verses – more material – than all 13 letters in the New Testament that Paul wrote! God obviously cares about our view of possessions to instruct us that much about it.

So, surely he knows the hearts of all these nameless statistics who want to give, but can’t. Right?

God loves a “cheerful giver,” and how full of glee can you be when your phone is ringing off the hook with ne’er-do-wells looking to collect a check? Not much.

Sure, you may “reap sparingly,” but at least that reaping will come while the heat is still on in the house. Wall Watchers, these numbers got a brother thinking. What are your thoughts?

That insight could be a blessing to many brothers and sisters dealing with this… or are one of those numbers themselves. Peace.