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Friday, October 17, 2008

They Just Want Your Money

Many thoughts buzzing
All around inside my head.
Will try to make sense.
Bad Haiku
Luke 10/17/08

I've heard the following sentiment multiple times recently: The church just wants my money, so I don't go anymore. They're a business, not about relationship or life change.

I once heard a speaker at camp say: In that case, you should not go to a baseball game, or buy a car, or spend money on food because all they want is your money.

But, yes, the church as an institution is a non-profit organization--a business. Sonlight is a for-profit organization--a business. The same is true of Zondervan, Fireproof, and even Mission India... they all want your money.

The operable word here, then, is just. Is money the only thing that the church is about? Is that the only thing that Sonlight, or your local bookstore, is about? How about Amazon? Your bank? The government?

I can assure you that all of those entities want your money (some will take it, regardless). But what do they do with that money? I don't know what Amazon does with it, but I know what Sonlight does with much of the money. The same is true of your church: You should be able to see what they are spending the money on. As a non-profit, they are required to have open books.

But even if your church, as an entity, only wanted your money, is that wrong? Is church, the institution, why we attend on Sundays?

No.

We visit the church, the entity's building, so we can participate in church, the gathering of believers. And we participate in church, the gathering, so that we, as a church, can bond, grow, and minister. If your ministry (the third definition of church) was only about money, you have a problem. If the church gathering is only about money, you have a problem. But if the entity that makes the other two possible is only about money, I don't think that's wrong. ...because, honestly, the entity is about making the other two possible through the money.

Which brings us to the clincher:

You.

I'm currently growing in the area of giving, and I have a long way to go, but I hope to one day be as generous as my parents.

Why do you want money? It's certainly not just to have it. And if you aren't using the resources you have--be it money, talents, or connections--are you really about life change and relationships? Because the only way that church (the ministry) is going to be about those things if you, a member of the church (gathering), make it so.

Sobering thoughts.

~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

4 comments:

Mrs. C said...

We-ellll...

When I see the likes of Benny Hinn on TV, I tend to think stuff like that. But when I see that there are American missionaries willing to forego their dishwashers and bring their CHILDREN overseas to preach the gospel, you know that puts a different spin on things.

These are people who truly believe. I want to be like that. You bet they just want your money so they can go back and do the business God called them to. I don't really like that whole "furlough" idea... it seems so expensive and then the missionary has to do a stump speech all over the US to raise funds... but how else are they going to do it?

We can all be very selfish. I think the key is being careful where we PUT our money, because every last dime is somewhere.

I put a lot into homeschool. I just placed another order with Sonlight. Doggone it, Luke, you just want my money and I just want your products!! (I think that's a fair trade though... I'm teasing with ya)

Julie said...

Hey, lets not forget that everything we have is God's, and He only asks fro SOME of it back...the rest we get to play with. He wishes us to be cheerful givers (don't give if you resent it, that's worse than just not giving), He has put no numerical requirement on us (though some go with the old testament 10% which is a good place to start), and He wishes us to give sacrificially (which is probably more than 10%, and won't just make you miss one night out). How hard is all that? We've traveled a long road with giving. We've learned the hard way---it's not that we can't afford to tithe 10% or more....it's that we can't afford NOT to!! : )
Anyway, I'll just step down off this soap box and go on with my day! LOL!
Oh...and Luke...I know you just want my money...oh wait! Ya'll already have it all! HA! I'm so funny!
Julie

Danielle said...

As an MK (missionary kid), I can say that giving to God is /so/ much better than not giving to Him! I would not trade my life for anything.

If our talents and time and money are not to give away... what are they for? Life has no meaning apart from God, and what I can give back to Him.

As for furlough, mrs. c, I don't know about other missionaries, but we see it as an opportunity, to invite a bunch of people to see what God is doing on our side of the world, and maybe even to get involved. But it's not a one-way thing: we also want to get involved in what is happening "back home"! We love to hear from our churches in the states, and we pray with them and for them and give to them just as we hope (and know) they are doing for us. Furlough is hard, it's a lot of work, but it is well worth it!

Luke said...

Mrs. C: excellent point about how "every dime is somewhere." So true. I'm so glad to hear that you're involved in "trade" with Sonlight. It makes me smile and want to tell everyone. <smile> Yay!

Julie, great reminder of what we really own... it's all His. And you are funny. Love it. <smile>

Danielle, great points. I'm very glad you took the time to share your valuable perspective. I've done international travel before, and it is hard work. Furlough has got be rough.

But international travel is expensive... which makes this whole adoption thing--for me--more convoluted and pricey. Yikes.

~Luke


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