Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Putting Your Money Where Your Mission Is

From Shaun Groves:
I’ve seen the strange. I’ve seen a worship leader in sun glasses and a sequined suit slide across a stage twirling a microphone. I’ve seen cars, pirate ships and diving boards in sanctuaries.

I’ve seen the bad. I’ve seen a pastor promise a good sugar beat harvest to farmers in Wyoming if only their teen children will stop having sex and smoking. I’ve seen luxury cars promised to those who’ll give all the money in their bank accounts to the church.

But never, in the last seven years, have I seen this.

I’m at 100 churches a year right now. I try to ask someone on staff at every one of them what their church is already doing across the street and on the other side of the world to meet spiritual and physical needs. I ask for lots of reasons. I want to know if I’m speaking to a group of people who are in the habit of giving and thinking of those outside their church. I want to know if they hear about the poor in this place. I want to know if there’s already a habit of giving and serving. I want to know if there’s a theological foundation already regarding poverty and compassion present I can build on or if I have to lay that myself. I need to know what I’m dealing with because my time is short and I have to make the best of it and, in a country of short attention spans getting shorter, I want to waste as few words as possible.

The answers vary. We support missionaries. We give money to our denomination. We build houses with Habitat. Our small groups do stuff. Most churches do something both locally and globally. It’s very encouraging to see, hundreds of churches in the last seven years doing something to meet physical and spiritual needs.

Today I asked Sandy the question. She’s the associate pastor at Pender United Methodist in Fairfax, Virginia. Part of her answer I’ve never heard before. ONE THIRD OF THIS CHURCH’S BUDGET GOES TO MISSIONS. I’ve never heard a percentage that high before. Astounding.

More astounding? Twenty-one years ago they weren’t giving like this. Back then they were having a hard time meeting their budget. Then a shift happened. I don’t know all of why, but the pastors decided to raise $25,000 for missions that year. At the end of that year the church met their budget but didn’t raise the $25,000 for missions. They raised $65,000 for missions instead!

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