Tithe Schmithe

Thursday 15 November 2007

Synchroblog: Money and the Church

You can't really blame the institutionalised elements of the Church for having the unnerving ability to turn our freedom in Christ into principles and programs, rules and regulations that start resembling Old Testament temple practices as soon as our backs are turned. It goes with the territory, whenever the structure is allowed to usurp the focus on the people who really are the Church. But of course, the problem really lies deeper. It goes all the way down to our own tendency to want to reduce God down to manageable size. Sometimes he is just damn scary with his unknowableness, his disarming tendency to ask us to do things we don't want to, to just invade everything. We want him small enough to put in our pockets. I think we can safely call this part of us our flesh ;) It doesn't love freedom half as much as our spirit does.

So many church building groups seem unwilling to see how the concept of the tithe is just not really anywhere in the New Testament. The thing is, it's in the interests of church buildings to have a tithe. They need their people to contribute to them to keep them going, keep the full-time pastor paid, keep the lawns watered, the electricity bill paid for. On and on it goes. Anyway - it's only right that those who frequent the building regularly should contribute towards its upkeep. I just don't think that the people who do this should brush off their hands when they put their 10% in the offering plate on a Sunday morning and think that they have done the "Lord's work". What they have done is contribute maintenance towards a gathering that they frequent. That's all.

What would happen if we took our 10% principle, our "God won't bless you financially unless you give him his due" law (purlease; do you really think God is that small?) and instead expanded the conceptions, regarding everything as his already? Not only the cattle on a thousand hills. And what about if we expanded it even further again and thought that not only is it all his, but it's all a gift. For us. A generous gift from a generous god who is not interested in skimping. I suspect our flesh's preference for a 10% tithe reflects our deep dark thoughts in the middle of the night that maybe God is not as generous as we would like or need him to be, nor as kind. If we are dealing with a nasty, small god, then of course our flesh finds it easier to bury our talents in the offering plate, because it's safer; then we've "done our bit" and God can't call us onto the carpet and accuse us of not giving him his due.

What happens if God's ideas of how he would like us to use our money are more fluid than giving our 10%? What if it's more organic, less able to be reduced down to an Excel spreadsheet? What happens if one week he doesn't ask us to give him any money (perish the thought!), but the next week asks us to give the homeless bloke on the corner 100 bucks, or to donate the same to a micro finance project, or to just put away in our purses and wallets and see if he won't give us directives on where he would like us to give it? What would happen if we took our "tithes" to the streets, to the current day "widows and orphans" instead of using them to keep the plumbing going, or nice new downlights for buildings that less and less people are frequenting anyway (have we noticed?)

Maybe God is more good than we thought he was, more kind, more generous and more giving. What would happen if we as the Church began flirting with the idea that God really is the kind of god that wants us to jump into his lap and call him Papa? What then? Then our fists would loosen.


This is part of a synchroblog. The other contributors are listed below. Follow the links, and watch the fur fly!

The Check That Controls at Igneous Quill by Adam Gonnerman
Trusting God: A New Perspective at Eternal Echoes by Sally Coleman
Greed and Bitterness at Square No More by Phil Wyman
But I Gave at Church at The Assembling of the Church by Alan Knox
Moving Out of Jesus Neighborhood at Be the Revolution by David Fisher
Money and the Church: why the big fuss? at Mike's Musings by Mike Bursell
Bullshit at The Agent B Files by Agent B
The Bourgeois Elephant... at Headspace by Lainie Petersen
The Church and Money at Khayna by Steve Hayes
Pushing The Camel at Fenando's Desk by Fernando Gros
Lord, Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz at Hello Said Jenelle by Jenelle D'Alessandro
Walking with the Camels at Calacirian by Sonja Andrews
Money and the Church: A Fulltime Story at The Pursuit by Lew A
Coffee Hour Morality at One Hand Clapping by Julie Clawson
Bling Bling in the Holy of Holies at In Reba's World by Reba Baskett
Money's too tight to mention at Out of the Cocoon by Paul Walker
When the Church Gives at Payneful Memories by Leah
Greed at Hollow Again by Dan Allen
Magazinial Outreach at Decompressing Faith by Erin
Silver and Gold Have We - Oops at Subversive Influence by Brother Maynard
What if We had Nothing by Tim Abbott
Who, or What, Do You Worship at Charis Shalom by Bryan Riley
Zach at Johhny Beloved by Zach Forrest
Wealth Amidst Powers at Theocity by Kirk Bartha

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