Bene”violence”

I was just checking my blogroll during lunch at work, and a quick note by Bonar over at his blog made my eyes water, and nose run… my allergies went crazy.  

A new report came out from a research agency that stated that tithing to mainline Protestant churches as a percentage of income is at its lowest level in at least 41 years.  Here is the link.

I am 41 years old, and according to this new report, I must be part of the “who gives a shit” about others generation.  Over my lifetime churches are keeping a greater share of their “donations” for their OWN needs.  No wonder I have a hard time swallowing what goes on behind the “church” walls.  I do not want to be known for being a “churchgoer”.  I want to be known for being the “Church”.  
 
The report said “churchgoers” gave about 2.38% of their income to their local “church” organization, with just over 2 percent of income going toward “the finances”, or in other words the operating costs and building expenses.  It is the small amount of only 0.34% percent of “churchgoer” income that went to “benevolences,” i.e. charities and other forms of outreach. 

That is POINT 34%, not 34%.  What a bunch of BS that is. Instead of benevolence… this is Bene”violence”

Let’s put it into perspective for a salary of $50,000.  Say you “tithe” the full amount and give the 2.34% to your local “church”.  You would be giving $1,170 a year to that organization.  The “church” then uses $1000 of your income to run the place, and then gives only $170 to the poor and marginalized.

I have an idea.  Why not gather with other followers of Christ anywhere and anytime and give the full $1,170, or more, to the poor and marginalized.  Better yet… help out the poor and marginalized by giving more than money, how about building relationships with them outside the walls to see what their needs are.

I know many “churchgoers” give to other places, but it still seems a bit steep to spend $1000 to have a someone preach to you in a big fancy building to have a glamorous bible study (where you cannot speak!)

Just a thought.  What’s yours?

Thanks Bonar for getting my blood flowing on a Monday!

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7 thoughts on “Bene”violence”

  1. Good thoughts. At least the statistics suggest it’s a dying model. Not only are the poor not helped, but the shepherds are also exploiting and eating the sheep. It seems like they ought to give that up before the real shepherd returns.

  2. I saw the story/report yesterday in the news and had a similar reaction, that so little goes toward “widows, orphans, and the poor”. Sad.

  3. This is a two-sided coin, methinks. I’ve talked about the benefits of church buildings before on my blog, so I’ll just condense and say that, in a way, I agree with you. If a congregation is as stingy as you claim here, then things need to change.

    However, I’ve never been an active member of such a church. Every church I’ve been interested in has used their money for benevolence as well as bills. And every church I’ve been in has been great about WANTING folks to participate verbally in Bible studies and ministries in the church….as well as proclaiming Christ and helping others OUTSIDE the church.

    What’s more, every church I’ve been interested in digging my heels into has been very open about what they do with money, and would readily give a break-down of the budget upon request.

    All in all, tithing comes down to trust. Do you trust your congregation to spend money wisely? If you don’t, then you *absolutely* shouldn’t give…and the Bible supports that idea. If you are giving out of compulsion, because you feel you HAVE to, it would be better to keep the money in your pocket.

    You should only give tithe…or really, anything….because you WANT to give it. Because you WANT to help, because you TRUST your congregation to spend it wisely, and because you TRUST that God is leading your money where it needs to go.

    As for building relationships (and I may have asked this before), it’s easy to sit and judge others. Do you yourself attend those in homeless shelters or soup kitchens on Saturdays? Have you wrestled with the hard-to-love? Have you been on a mission trip to the third world, to help people who have nothing?

    It’s a pretty intense experience. I highly recommend that anyone go, because it changes your perspective *completely*. Swanny, something tells me you’d make an *excellent* missionary…

    1. Lady Tam Li – I think we are more on the same page than you think.

      First this isn’t just “one congregation” as you stated. We are talking about an average from a huge sample of Protestant churches … and I agree things do need to change. As Heather put it, it is a dying model, so in due time these “church” systems will die off.

      Your second paragraph.. you mention being a member, well that is a whole different issue. I do not think we need to be a “member” of a church to be part of THE one and only Church – The Body of Christ. You also talk about participation. I have not seen a church that allows you to participate when the pastor preaches. If I raised my hand to ask a question during the “worship” service. i would be thrown out for disorderly conduct. (Small group bible studies are different, and a person does not necessarily need to be in a $50 million dollar building to have one)

      The tithing issue you bring up.. well, I do not believe a person needs to tithe at all. I think we can give freely from the heart with guidance from the Holy Spirit.

      Finally, I am not judging people at all. I am just saying the system is broken if only .34% of a persons income is going to help the poor and the widows… and the answer to your question is yes.. I do get out and help others and I do not need a big fancy building and a paid staff to help me do that.

      Thanks for you thoughts.. Swanny

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