Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grace Ministries and Giving

I'm sorry, but I have a problem with "Grace" ministries asking for money. It seems to me that if God wanted them to survive, that they wouldn't have to ask.

I get mailings from 2 major ones asking for money, "in these troubling times."

Is it just me?

11 comments:

Jamie said...

No, it's NOT just YOU.

TAKING an OFFERING!! LOL

If it's GOD's thing, He'll make it go.

::tallywoe?? LOL I thought it was tally-ho?::

Bino M. said...

John, I have struggled to get my thoughts around this issue for quite a long time. I still don't have much clarity but I think I am leaning towards the position you just described - If God wanted them to survive, they will. If not, it might be time for them to downsize the scope of their ministry or may be even quit. I tend to shy away from giving to the ministries who keep asking for money regardless of whether they are asking money for their survival or possible expansion. I also can't buy fully the idea of selling their materials (CD/DVDs, study materials, books/tapes etc) for a price way higher than it's production cost.

Just my thoughts...

John Fincher said...

Jamie and Bino,

I always enjoy y'alls perspective.

When "taking" an offering or passing the basket, if you will, I asked Donna if she thought if Jesus ever "passed a basket" - she said "Yes, whenever He wanted someone to take something FROM it."

I really love her! :-)

Leonard said...

No it aint just you John and thanks for posting cus I was thinking the same thing and thought maybe im just being selfish...
Best

Joel B. said...

I think my thinking's a little bit the same and a little bit different.

Truly, God-led ministries will be provided for by God through His saints willingly giving of their resources. I do think that that can look different any given day or with any given ministry.

As one example of what I'm thinking about, Paul directed the saints at Corinth and Galatia to set stuff aside every week, as they were able, so that he could bring the stuff to the saints in Jerusalem. (1 Cor 16:1-4).

One line of thinking would be that if God wants to provide for the saints in Jerusalem, then He'll simply lead each person individually, without any direction from another person. And yet here we have Paul leading an organized effort to provide for the saints. "Asking for money," so to speak. Of course, it's not to support 'his ministry,' but to support the saints.

Unfortunately, many in the church have taken this one example and made it into a case for the weekly collection of an offering in church! That's just sad.

But it does speak to me that there can be such a thing as a Spirit-led way of organizing giving and receiving. Every individual and ministry and church is directed by God in His own unique way, and if He happens to be doing something that takes the resources of a lot of different people, I don't think it's wrong for that church or organization to ask people to support the true work of the Lord. The wonderful thing is that each of us individually can relate to the Spirit personally in such a way as to know whether or not to be a part of the support of another person or church or organization.

I do think "teaching ministries" are probably overdone, at least here in the west, but I do believe that there are legitimate ones worthy of support. For example, all of us who have taken part in this conversation so far would not be doing this if not for people having financially supported one particular teaching ministry! And if I heard Steve correctly one time, his ministry has existed due to a handful of people who are able to give large amounts. For that reason, he hasn't had to "ask" for financial support all that often. But if he didn't have those big givers, and yet had the same vision of providing teaching materials and other resources, I would have no problem with him asking people to support what he's doing, simply because I already know the benefits the ministry is providing all around the world.

I agree with what Bino is saying. Sometimes I think legitimate ministries are asking people to give and sacrifice so that they can just survive, or expand, when really they need to be working with what they have or downsize. But again, I think we as individuals can decide within ourselves as the Spirit leads, as to whether this is something to be a part of.

Just being part of the conversation. I'm not done with my own thinking on any of this, and I love that you've brought it up, John!

John Fincher said...

Joel thinks he's so smart, with his smarty pants wisdom and good sense. OOOO, he makes me SO mad!

;-)

Seriously Joel, you make REALLY good points. That the "offering" (NOT tithe) was for the SAINTS and not the ministers. But I also believe, this was a one time thing.

A special collection, if you will.

I guess I am at the OTHER extreme about giving right now after coming out of tithing-as-law teaching for the last 17 years - my whole life, really.

I'm also glad to have this conversation.

Peace and blessings to all.

Joel B. said...

"Smarty pants." LOL :) It's really just the culmination of a few thoughts I've had over the years, and the thoughts continue.

I know exactly what you mean about being on the other extreme about giving. In my grace journey I've come out of so much legalistic junk, that I haven't wanted to give legalism an inch, and that's a good thing.

I want to be in a place where I don't shut everything out, though, if there's a chance that the Spirit is doing a perfect work through imperfect people who are using imperfect means.

That 'collection' passage was so very abused in the church, and for a loooong time all I could see was that the church was wrong in how they used it, so I dismissed the passage completely. Then I began to see that just because others had twisted it, that didn't mean that we couldn't glean some good, grace-full stuff out of it. Anyway, like I said, I'm still working it out and I'm not anywhere near done in my thinking about this. It's good to simply talk it out with you and the others.

Leonard said...

John say's " smarty pants " ,,, a man after my own heart...
Best
Leonard

...and Enide said...

Just wanted to point out that Jesus did pass around a basket. After feeding the multitude, he passed the basket around to collect leftovers. If we're looking for allegories in Jesus' basket passing, we ought to at least observe the Biblical precedent for giving back out of what has been given.

I really like the Catholic liturgy of the Eucharist. Even if you don't believe bread and wine become Jesus, you can appreciate the symbolism. We bring the bread and wine to God out of the blessings he has given us. He takes our gifts given to him, transforms them into something greater, and gives them back. I think that's something to keep in mind.

We all have gifts of time, talent, and money to give. We ought to give whatever's needed when the spirit prompts us, rather than writing something off as inherently wrong, oughtn't we?

John Fincher said...

Alison,

That is a great point.

I'm just trying to sort all of this stuff out.

Like I commented earlier - I guess I am at the OTHER extreme about giving right now after coming out of tithing-as-law teaching for practically my whole life.

Your point about following the leading of the Spirit is exactly the point I was trying to make - but most evangelicals today make it Law, which is life-less.

Peace

John Fincher said...

Alison,

I went back and looked at the 4 parallel "scenes" where Jesus fed a multitude.

While it is witnessed in all 4 Gospels, St. John's is the only one where Jesus specifically tells them to collect the leftovers.

But here's some observations.

The recipients did not "give something back" - the disciples were told to collect the fragments.

"Just wanted to point out that Jesus did pass around a basket. After feeding the multitude, he passed the basket around to collect leftovers."

It says nothing about Him passing the basket back around, simply (to the disciples) "Gather up the fragments that remain..." and then He goes on to state the reason, "...that nothing be lost."

To put an allegorical meaning that you put forward to give back something that was given, to me, is not supported in this passage.

All I am doing here is having a conversation with friends about these things. :-)

Peace