The local church should be the most well funded group in our culture, but it’s not, and there are plenty of good reasons. Most local fellowships, including New Life, need to make some fundamental changes in the way they function in order for people to trust them with their finances. Here are a few thoughts to discuss and consider.
1. The church must be a storehouse and not a stockpile
In the Old Testament, there were regional storehouses, where people would literally bring their tithe of livestock, grains and produce. These storehouses had two primary functions – to take care of the needs of the priests and to distribute resources to the widows and poor. The New Covenant established by Christ did away with the Temple sacrifices, but the function of the local church was to be much the same. The elders should have the support necessary to pray and lead the church, and the local fellowship should be the distribution point for the widows and poor. The church was never meant to be a stockpile of resources that were consumed primarily by its members.
2. The church must be missional not empirical
The days of empirical church are coming to an end and the age of mission is returning. People are no longer motivated to build more buildings just for the sake of new buildings. There has to be a legitimate Kingdom mission attached to each project that can be clearly communicated. If there is even a hint that something is being done to promote a person’s ego or ambition, wary churchgoers will withhold their resources. However, if the real needs of humanity are being met with the project, you can expect extreme generosity, even in a down economy.
3. The decisions must be made by a team, not a person
The local church is designed to be led by a team of people with various strengths and differing functions. That’s why it’s called a body. One dominant person with a charismatic personality may get the crowd charged with excitement, but over the long haul, it will require a team of men and women, young and old to accomplish the audacious dreams that God gives us.
I do believe the local church is returning to its original design and just in time. Our culture is tired of the flash and hype and is longing for humility and authenticity in a local church. May we respond to the needs of our world and reflect the love of Christ to our city, using words only when necessary. When we do, we will never lack the resources required for His mission.
May 17, 2010 at 1:17 pm
AMEN!!!!! Amen, amen, AMEN!!!!!! Yes, yes, yes. And as unbelievers see that GENUINE humility and authenticity they will be draw to the Church, (with a capital “C” because it’s a people, not a building)… to the Jesus they see in the Church. Because they can look for it in the world all they want, but the world can’t provide it. Only Christ can. And He does that through the Church. Why have we stinkin’ missed it for so long??!!!? How could we have gotten so far off track? Well, I know how. But, still…
May 17, 2010 at 4:10 pm
Brady, I’m loving this Treasure series. Having been a part of church finance and stewardship for many years, it’s refreshing to hear the biblical view presented from the perspective of the heart. It’s much more typical (and ineffective) for churches to list tithing primarily as a spiritual discipline, rather than as an act of worship. Many churches trumpet their own needs and expect the church body to be inspired. I believe giving follows solid vision in the short term, but will follow impact over the long haul.
One question I’ve been asked before is whether it’s appropriate to reduce or discontinue a tithe to pay off debt. My position is that debt reduction, combined with heart change that leads to better decisions, honors God. However, tithing provides a very tangible way to demonstrate whether or not I really trust God to meet my needs, regardless of my debt balances. Since I want my giving motivated from a heart of worship, I feel the mindset of choosing to either invest in God’s kingdom or my own net worth is a false choice. Stewardship requires that I first help fund God’s work, then I manage my affairs as part of a balanced financial plan. What are your thoughts on this?
Again, an excellent series. I trust God will use it for His glory.