Month: October 2013

A Report on Tithing

October 29 2013 by Katherine Burgess, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON – Collection plates are growing even lighter as Protestant church member giving reached new lows in 2011, and tithing probably will not recover from the recession, according to a new report by Empty Tomb, a Christian research group.

“Is the issue that the church is not providing an authentic alternative to the consumer mindset?” said Sylvia Ronsvalle, executive vice president of Empty Tomb. “Over a period of time, if the church isn’t providing more of an authentic alternative, the church will lose.”

The percentage of a church member’s income given to the church dropped to 2.3 percent in 2011 (the latest year for which numbers are available), down from 2.4 percent in 2010, according to the Empty Tomb study.

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Collection plates are passed during the Sunday evening service at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection on July 15, 2012, in Leawood, Kan. The Church of the Resurrection is known as the largest Methodist church in the nation.

In 1968, church members gave an average of 3.1 percent of their income.

Giving has declined for four consecutive years, according to the report. The only other period of prolonged decline in giving per member was from 1928 through 1934, almost entirely during the Great Depression.

In 2011, the 23 denominations researched by Empty Tomb received $22.94 billion. In 2010 they received $22.88 billion.

The steepest monetary decline was in the area of “benevolences,” spending that does not apply to a local congregation’s needs but includes things like seminary support or missions work. Giving to benevolences was at 0.34 percent of a person’s income, a decrease of 48 percent since 1968 – its lowest level since that time period.

Altogether, the report found, churches had $87.2 million less to spend in 2011 on work beyond their congregations than in 2010.

Empty Tomb also reported that overall church membership has declined.

Empty Tomb examined data reported by congregations to their denominations and then compiled in the “Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.” In some cases, Empty Tomb obtained data directly from denominations.

The denominations included in the report encompassed more than 100,000 congregations across the U.S. and included denominations affiliated with both the National Association of Evangelicals and with the National Council of Churches, as well as unaffiliated denominations. Although Catholics were not included in the report, previous Empty Tomb research has found that Catholics generally give at comparable or slightly less rates than Protestants.

The decline could be attributed to a variety of reasons, including economic struggles, said Matt Branaugh, director of editorial and business development for the Church Law & Tax Group at Christianity Today. Christianity Today has conducted its own surveys on church tithing.

Another reason could be a decline in church member attendance, Branaugh said.

“I’ve heard some reference that phenomena as the ‘grazer effect’ – people are not going to church every week now, and the weeks they don’t go they’re listening to podcasts, doing worship on their own or fellowshipping with people in other ways,” Branaugh said. “They’re not there as much, and consequently they’re not giving as much.”

Other churches struggle with how to talk about finances, not realizing that churches must teach about how a relationship with God involves giving – “stewardship,” as churches would say, Branaugh said.

“As a result, if it’s not being talked about and it’s not really being taught, it may not necessarily grow into the culture of that congregation,” Branaugh said.

Churches need to embrace the idea that all money is God’s, not just a small tithe, said Rick Dunham, CEO ofDunham+Company, a consulting firm that assists ministries in fundraising. Dunham is also on the executive committee of the Giving Institute, an organization that seeks to advance philanthropy.

“I think the decline in giving is in part because the church hasn’t really embraced the biblical mandate around true giving, the idea of investment in eternity, in the stuff that matters most,” Dunham said. “Not just putting a little bit of money in the offering plate and thinking I’ve done my duty.”

Ronsvalle said part of the reason giving has declined is because churches still treat people as if they are living in “hard times” – even when they are not.

“They’re hard because people want to take better vacations,” Ronsvalle said. “They want to get more cars. They want to have more square footage.”

Churches and their members need to realize that if 100 million Christians gave an extra $50 a year, child deaths could be drastically reduced across the world, Ronsvalle said.

“The church doesn’t think that way,” Ronsvalle said. “It has not understood its potential power for good.”

Real

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It is easy to get sucked into a life that is not authentic

Especially if you are going into or are in the ministry

If you are in the ministry you are pressured to pick a side, hold to a certain view point, all attached to a name or a speaker promoting those views…

If you are in the ministry you are pressured to act, perform and preach a certain way.  If you choose not to it is said you do not preach correctly…

If you are in the ministry you are expected to be inhuman, not with sinless perfection because people are quick to point imperfections out and make you remember them but inhuman as in the time that you should depend with people visiting and calling.

If you are in the ministry you are expected to care equally for people, with an equal amount of time for everyone.

You are also expected not to speak the truth…

Yep, that’s right…

Not speak the truth.

People are generally good with hearing theological concepts that they have no concept about.  But when a preacher takes those theological ideas and puts skin and bones on them, and actually relates them to life, immediately it becomes too real and most do not want to hear that kind of “shallow” preaching.

for the definition of shallow (most of the time) is preaching that convicts and that demands  uncomfortable life changes…

you know really carrying a cross instead of sitting on the christian couch.

It’s interesting that others are allowed to say anything they want about the minister but you are NOT to speak the truth directly into someone’s life…

because you are expect to never hurt anyone’s feelings, or challenge them to change…

but they are allowed to do that to you because after all to them…

you’re just a hired hand and are to come and go at their bidding…

and most don’t even tithe the way they should but feel they should have you under their control.

There is a huge price to pay for  being real

but I think that is the only way to be

it just takes work and a focus on Jesus to the point where the pull to be inauthentic becomes nonexistent.

it’s worth the work.

Whatever


Jesus says, “whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive… if you have faith.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I have asked for plenty of things and did not get them. I have asked for outcomes to “outcome” a particular way and it didn’t happen the way I asked for it to.

Did I have faith during these times? Faith that God had the power to answer my prayers in particular way?

Yes… always.

In fact… the faith I have in God, (that He can accomplish anything we ask) is seen in conversations I have had with Him when prayers were not answered according to what I had asked.

Conversations that went somethign like this…

Lord, I know you are capable of doing/providing ___________________________ (fill in the blank). And I have asked for it, with faith knowing you can. The question I now have is why didn’t you answer the prayer in the way I asked for it? This is very disturbing to me. Please help me understand.

After all that fits the description of whatever… right?

(Now at this point if you haven’t listened to the sermon Truly 14 you may need to do that before you go any further in this post, you can down load it here)

Now I have a lot of “preacher” answers for this. In fact I am willing to bet that you have already thought of some of those “preacher” answers while reading this post.

Here’s the deal with those…

Do any of those really answer your question concerning unanswered prayer? Do they really bring you peace?

You have asked the “whatever”, your prayer was based ON faith in God, WITH faith in God, and you had NO doubt He was capable of accomplishing what you were asking… but He did not move the mountain. When He did not answer according to your “whatever” and you are left wondering why… do the “preacher” answers really square with with what you went through?

I will have to say… they don’t for me.

And I wish… deep inside… I had an answer to the why…

a real answer.

So, Here is the only thing I know.

I trust God and that is my motto.

Trust is not always knowing all the details and its not having all the answers.

In fact if you are trusting, it means you do not have all the answers, you just know that the one you are trusting will do the right thing. The one you are trusting in will come through for you. He is on your side. Even when things do not turn out the way you’ve asked them to.

I trust God,

He always does the right thing.

I think we have missed something when it comes to this verse because the “answers” we hear and read concerning it do not square with the way things happen in our lives. We may never know what it is we are missing in the interpretation of this verse and that is ok…

because here is what we know…

God is trustworthy…

and our motto needs to be

In God we trust.

Yes,

In God we Trust.

And trust exists in the realm of unanswered whys.

Random Wednesday

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1. God blesses in unexpected ways.

2. Sometimes what was stolen gets replaced

3. Devil go on get your junk out of hear – I don’t need you so move on! (tobymac)

4. I’m thinking about putting a GPS tracking system on our Holiday Yard Decorations, looks like that might cost to much… but wouldn’t that be a hoot?   Someone takes your stuff then you show up at their front door with the police to get your stuff. It would mess some people up… and I hate to say it but there would be some satisfaction in that.

5. Today Apple is awesome (just like another day)  – free up grade to their new software including Pages, Numbers and Key Note.  Nice

6. Don’t go riding on that long black train.

7. Off to pass out some invitations to FBC’s Chicken Stew Plus

8. Just reported the thief

9. I love it when a message starts getting traction

Stolen

Stolen

in the middle of the night or maybe before or maybe after

someone snuck onto our property and took our wooden Charlie Brown Halloween display

except for Lucy it was nice of them to allow us to keep her… (sarcasm)

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after all they must have thought that our stuff was their’s and that’s why they took it.

But it wasn’t their stuff it was ours….

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My Neighbor seems to think that I should be nice and instead of  using the word “stole” i should be nice and use “Borrowed” instead on these signs….

IMG_0441BUT…

I think STOLE is the right word because that is what THEY DID They STOLE not BORROWED, THEY STOLE our Charlie Brown Halloween Display. They felt they had a right to it so they walked onto our property and took what was not theirs to take, THEY DID NOT BORROW from us THEY TOOK what was not their’s to take and that is called stealing….

THEY STOLE FROM US!

and I am being NICE ENOUGH about it when I use the word PLEASE on these signs…

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and that is about as much nice-ness as I’m going to be able to muster up at this point in time.

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Costume Contest Rules

Chicken Stew Plus Flyier web copy

Costume Contest Rules for Farmington Baptist Chicken Stew Plus (October 26th)

1. The Costumes cannot be inappropriate or scary.

2. Each Costume can either be made or purchased.

3. This Costume Contest is for any age. You must be between the ages of 0-100 and not be dead (If you appear dead, but can walk that is ok).

4. There can be no illegal weapons used.

5. The Costume contest will take place at 6:45 PM. Each contestant does not have to come to the chicken stew dressed in costume, but they must have their costume on by 6:45.

6. The Costume Contest will take place in the back parking lot by the Trunk or Treat.