Tuesday, February 21, 2006

what would happen?

What if your Senior Minister walked into church this Sunday morning and said, "Hello everyone. I know that we are not even two months into the year, but the elders and I have decided to rip up the annual budget. It's gone, completely torn to pieces. After service we are going to have a bonfire out back and worship over its ashes. After much prayer and dialogue, we have decided that while it makes good business sense, it just doesn't seem to line up with what we believe God has called this church to accomplish."

What would happen?

What if he continued, "So here is what we, as a church, are going to do with our weekly offerings: We will remain faithful to the finacial promises we have made. We are going to continue to pay the salaries of the ministry staff. We are going to continue to pay the mortage. We are going to continue to be responsible and pay all of our monthly bills. But...every cent beyond that, every single penny, we are going to give to this over-seas missionary, or to that innercity homeless ministry, or to this mission project committed to helping fight the AIDS/HIV pandemic in Africa, or that shelter for beaten and battered women, or to some combination of this and that. People, absolutely everything we give over the bare minimum it takes to run this church, will never see the insides of these walls. It will go to the hungry, the sick, the poor, the oppressed, those who have never heard the gospel...you know, the people Jesus was most interested in."

How would we respond? How would our neighbors respond? How would those who hate everything that the church now stands for respond?

"So church, here is what this means. There is no youth ministry budget. There is no worship ministry budget. There is no building and maintenance budget. There is no office supplies budget. We are going to have to figure out a way to do church with out all of that. If the children's ministry needs new curriculum, somebody needs to help them purchase it...or better yet, maybe a group of us can get together and help write a new curriculum for them. If we run out of toilet paper, which we will, the ladies that clean the church on Saturday nights are going to need someone to buy more. If a power-amp goes out, we will need to get it fixed or find a couple hundred dollars to buy a new one. Or, just worship with out it. If the youth ministry needs help, finacially, getting to their week of camp...church, we are going to need you. If we grow and run out of parking lot space, I guess we will just have to park on the road for a while. If we need more chairs, more bibles, more anything...we will get it, but we are going to have to rely on eachother to carry the extra load. Because our weekly offering is spoken for. It is not ours. Power-amps and children's curriculums are nice, but helping our fellow man live is better."

What would happen?

Well for starters, it would take more time and more collective energy from your people. Obviously, your ability to put on a slick and well-produced Sunday morning service would be greatly compromised. I know that your buildings and programs would surely suffer. And I don't think there is any way you could appear as appealing or attractive on the surface level. But...your message would be much more attractive. And I think that would be enough to grab people's attention and bring them back. Don't you? Don't you think that people, people who don't know a thing about Christ or His message, would recognize the humility, the love, the complete lack of self-interest in the way you spend your money as a church, and know that it is good? Don't you think they would know that there is something different, something other than the American dream of "bigger and better", that you have found and that you value? Don't you think that they would want to join a church like that? Well, I sure think so.

But to be honest, I really don't know what would happen? Could a church function like that? I don't know. Should a church function like that? I don't know. But, I guess there is no real reason to worry. The chances of your Senior Minister stepping up on stage this Sunday and saying anything like this are...well, not real good. So it is safe. Safe to ask, safe to wonder, safe to dream. So...what do you think would happen?


Dustin said...

that would be a church i would love to be a part of!

Scott said...

Did you suggest that to Brian?

Um would there still be a chinese buffet (evangelism) budget?


jake said...

Seriously bill, how would we afford to plan for the women's retreat? We have to like, pay for our own meal. That's just not right.