I have two confessions for you today. The first is a personal weakness, and the second is a corporate weakness in the body today.
For those that do not know me, I do have a “normal” job in the IT industry. I also have a full time family; therefore, SeqHim is mainly something I work on early in the morning and some late evenings. As such, I figure I have to focus on one or two things to make meaningful progress. Right now, these two things are fundraising and community development. Problem is, I’m much more motivated my the later than the former, so I have made little progress on fundraising. I’m praying through this, and I would benefit if you would lift me to the Lord as well.
I mentioned that the second confession is corporate in nature. I mentioned Nehemiah a few posts ago, and I’ll quote him again here…
We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which you have commanded Your servant Moses. Nehemiah 1:7 (NASB)
Nehemiah prayed these words as he was lamenting the plight of the people before he went before the King with his request to go back to Jerusalem. I’ve personally remained committed to praying over God’s people almost daily as Nehemiah did, and it hit me in the past few days just how mistaken the Church has been in the times of prosperity and how we are suffering for it now that difficulty is increasing.
I have not yet done any formal “research”, but I do have enough relationships with enough leaders of local churches to know that generally speaking attendance is up but giving is down…significantly. Just yesterday, a local church leader and I discussed the tie to our lack of training when times were good. Churches today feel compelled to “dial for dollars” just to survive, and I feel increasingly certain that the reason we’re in this predicament is that we did not train disciples when we had the resources to do it…rather, we invested those resources in building a bigger audience. We thought that the percentage of givers to non-givers would remain steady, but what we’re finding is that the “social givers” (as opposed to “cheerful givers”) are dropping like flies as they panic. They were among us, but they were not truely with us.
And so, I feel compelled to confess this corporate failing to the Lord, which I have already done personally. Will you join me?
4 Replies to “Confession”
Wow! How funny…er, uh, how sad. I am guilty of this very type of thinking; even in my micro-community of which I serve. I would have said, yes, grow the body! Look how good things are…we ought use this prosperous time to grow! And, unfortunately, I’m regretful to admit that when I say growth I mean in quantity as opposed to quality. For some reason I assume that growth in quantity can somehow equal proportionate growth in quality. Obviously that is not so. And God knows it even when I fail to see it. Yes, I ought to be on my knees about this…and about what God can use me to do to help correct the mistakes in thought and action I have made. And here we are back at the importance of drawing the fringe into the core!
Spiritual training is KEY to a mature Christ following community. I’m going to comment on the giving issue…Obviously giving is a reflection of where a person’s heart is. It took me a long time to learn about being a joyful giver. I was a spiritual baby in so many areas but as I began to mature God revealed his truth to me. I was in the fringe group for many years and was influenced by a culture of “get it now” and “don’t worry about living beyond your means” and “debt is a tool” and that has shown up BIG TIME in the church as well.
Individuals and churches are paying dearly for it now in difficult times and it is such a HUGE distraction.
I facilitate a class called Financial Peace University at Hillside… we have a class of about 35 people… they had over $529,000 of personal debt and that DID NOT include mortgages. Is the borrower slave to the lender? Absolutely.
So rather than being a bondservant (a voluntary life long servant) to Christ they are slaves to lenders.
Besides the offering plate, another place to see our lack of discipling is in the body of elders, deacons in some churches. How many are prepared to teach and preach on a given Sunday? We need to be taking people deeper in their walk so that their service can reach higher levels.
I think all of the comments so far are driving a common point…one that I strongly agree with. That is…all of the problems we see in the visible church church today can be traced back to a single root cause…a lack of passion, focus, discipline, and ultimately maturity in the body today.
Whether that problem is coporate finance, personal finance, a lack of leadership, a lack of servants, divorce rates, or lack of general stewardship over any resource God has given us (time, gifts, skills, influence, friends, etc)…it all comes back to our lack of training the body effectively.
BTW, can I also add missions and evangelism to this list as well? If the effectivness of missions also hinges on our ability to train believers, what other activity is more vital to the mission Jesus left us that helping others know what it means to follow him? Please don’t think I’m discounting the work of the Spirit, but neither can we neglect our calling and the importance of being trained to share the gospel.
Thanks for the thoughtful responses. Let’s do something about it.