A couple of days ago I listed five terrible reasons to give to a Church. Like I said in the post, they aren’t things I typically hear around Central that much any more. I have heard them at Central on occasion, and at every other Church I’ve ever been part of. It’s a terrible shame, but there are a lot of people who belong to churches (even “Bible believing” churches) who don’t get the mission of the Gospel even one bit.
On the other hand, I’ve seen and heard a lot of great reasons to give to a church, and I’d like to share some of them with you.
Because you help free certain people to help the community grow in Jesus.
Yes this seems rather self-serving, and I apologize for it but it does need to be said. Not every pastor is going to make a living from the Gospel. Heck, Paul didn’t make a living from the Gospel. On the other hand, allowing called people to make their living through the Gospel isn’t a bad thing – and can even be a commendable thing. When people are freed to study, meditate, and serve without having to worry about how they’re going to eat the next day that’s good. When you give to a church for this reason, pastors are more than employees – they can be leaders and servants. This means that pastors who receive these gifts have to take special care in obeying their calling – though. To many of us slack off.Because you’re grateful for the opportunity to serve the community by offering hope.
I know that there are other organizations out there that might be more efficient at meeting the immediate needs of people – but few of these are able to offer the hope for deep change in people’s hearts and minds and lives. This is what the Church has to offer when people support that mission, and when people are grateful for that opportunity good things happen. Please note that I do not consider giving door to door gospel tracts with dubious theology serving the community by offering hope. Incidentally, this reason ties into the next reason on the list which is…
Because you believe that the impact of worship can change the way we live.
If are grateful for the opportunity to serve others, than worship is that event that should spark that desire. Worship, the mystical transport of gathered believers to the throne-room of grace – wherein we are joined to the the massive crowd of all the angels, and all the saints above and below around Jesus’ throne – should absolutely have an impact on how we interact with the world. It’s a shame that so many churches have abandoned this theology of worship, and replaced it with the melodrama of a produced concert – IMNSHO. If we have been impacted by the experience of worship, and wish to pass on the joy of the impact to others, that’s a good reason to give.
Because you’re thankful to God that you don’t have to follow Jesus alone.
There is no such thing as a “lone-ranger Christian.” A college professor of mine, who was one of the most gentle men I’ve ever met, once tried to explain the absolute necessity for the church to be part of our lives if we wanted to be transformed into the image of Jesus to a class of “busy” college students. He told us about the Church being the instrument that Jesus brought into existence, and how it’s carried the faith through thousands of years, and that it’s where the Holy Spirit has changed life after life after life. Then, to iterate his point he said us us college sophomores, “That’s why, if you are not in worship with other Christians, it’s a sin.” If stats were accurate, about 8 in 10 of the students at our school hadn’t been to Sunday worship since getting on campus for the semester, so when our prof uttered those words the room became dead silent. He paused for a moment and then uttered, “I make no apologies for saying that.”
Out of college we all understand that there are reasons one can’t be in morning worship (health professionals in-particular get caught in this). I also see the wisdom of have multiple worship opportunities over the course of a week for just that reason (Yet another thing my Roman Catholic friends have that I wish we had). On the other hand, we really should be thankful to Jesus that we’re not alone in this walk – and giving to see that the community, which has been a given to you, can be a gift to others is a good reason to give.
Because, even with it’s warts, you believe that the gathering of Christians is the manifestation of Jesus’ Kingdom here in this world.
I appreciate my friends who want to break off Jesus’ idea of the Church from our local institutions – and in a lot of ways I don’t mind that because there are a lot of institutions out there which are nothing more than religious country clubs. But, when human beings get together, they form institutions – even the model for the local congregation is roughly based on the institution of the Jewish synagogue. It’s what we do, and given that Jesus gave this work to us, I’m pretty sure he knew that. Yes a lot of our institutions are sick because they have theologically and spiritually vapid by-laws that hinder, rather than help, it’s work – but that’s always going to be the case this side of the resurrection. Giving to a church because you believe that it genuinely does manifest the Kingdom of Jesus through it’s people – is a good reason to give.