Over the years, I have often been asked: “Why is the church always asking for money?”
Studies in the past have listed this as a main reason people leave the church. Yet we all know deep in our hearts that without funds, the church and any other organization will wither and fail.
This applies to businesses and governments, families and individuals. Without money, our survival in our society would be at stake.
It’s often said that we “vote” with our money. Perhaps this is at the heart of the issue. When things are happening that we dislike, we just reduce or stop our giving.
Or perhaps it’s a simply the fact that times are tough and our income does not stretch to cover everything we need and want, so something must give.
Clearly, money and the church is a complex and complicated subject.
At its most basic, a church is simply a congregation of people focused around common principles and values. As long as everyone knew and understood those principles and values, giving was a “given,” part of those values.
In today, those principles and values are regularly questioned. We are all wary consumers. We want to see where our money goes. Accountability and understanding are now the hallmarks of a well supported “charity.”
But in our bible studies, we learn that Jesus organized more than a charity. All the healing the sick, caring for the poor, seeking justice were there, but something larger was at stake.
St. Paul writes of the body of Christ, the family of God being:
“…neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)
In other words, a deeper bond is formed that transcends everything worldly and binds us together in the unconditional love of God.
As Christians we now share a deep and profound “culture” that shapes us. We are rooted and grounded in God’s word and in the life death and resurrection of Jesus.
We recognize that sin is very real and present in all of us for we discover so many ways to turn away from God, to go our own way.
We have all been blessed with forgiveness and call each other into repentance for our past and hurt we have caused ourselves and others.
We express our trust, our faith in the one who created everything and we see ourselves as fellow Christians on a journey with other Christians.
We respect the intrinsic humanity and preciousness of all people and all created things.
We struggle to live by love, to study God’s word, to put the forgiveness and love Christ blesses us with to work in the world around us.
We rely on the Holy Spirit to fill us with enthusiasm and power to do things beyond all our dreams, to be healed, to have courage, to be vulnerable and learn what it means to live in the Kingdom of God.
And so we gather together in the church and share our “prayers and presence, our time, treasures and witness” as the family of God, the body of Christ, the congregation of the faithful, the church.
And so our giving of all that we have: prayers and presence (attendance), time, money and giving voice to what we are doing is simply the result of giving our lives to the one who has given his life for us.
This is where we get our basic expectations for membership:
We pledge to God and to each other to…
- Attend Worship as regularly as we can
- Get involved in personal growth & loving outreach
- Tell others of our commitment, discoveries, insights and involvement.
And in all this “We thank God for the opportunity to be in love & service to Christ.”
This week we start our yearly effort to understand our blessings and our giving to the vision of God in the Lancaster United Methodist church.
We’ll look at: “(Grace)-onomics” and how we can live with greater meaning and a deeper love in God’s Kingdom. And yes, it does mean we’ll be talking about money. For as a wise person once said: “You can measure your values by what you spend your money on, by what’s in your checkbook and on your credit card statement.”
Join us for worship and the word this Sunday. You family is looking forward to seeing you.
What scripture has stayed with you this week?
What have others learned about Jesus Christ through of you?
How goes it with your soul?
Grace and Peace,