Giving to Church vs. Helping the poor - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm in a quagmire that I'm hoping to get some different perspectives on. As you'll see, there are both pragmatic and philosophical issues.

DH and I have struggled (for years) to get our giving to our church up to a level that we felt is right. Basically, we've shied away from giving away as much money as we should, and we finally committed to giving away what we know is right. At about the same time, our church untook a Capital Campaign to make major improvements and expansions to the church. They are attempting to raise $2.2 Million. That's US dollars : The church is asking the congregation to praperfully consider making major contributions above and beyond what they give to the church's operating budget. We ended up deciding that we're called to give until it hurts and then give some more, so we came up with a figure to give to this campaign (large figure to us, not to the grand scheme of the campaign).

After we made this decision, it occured to me that I was able to sacrifice thousands of dollars a year to help my church get air conditioning, and what would this money do for people who don't have food, water, shelter or clothing? I have a very uneasy feeling that I'm helping my church get away from "living simply", when I could be using my family's enormous sacrifice to help others "Simply live". I'm not just torn about making the extra donation to help with the capital campaigns luxuries, but even struggling with the idea of giving enormous sums of money to the general budget each year when our church is clearly living beyond "simple". While I know that our churches give benevolently, it's usually in concert with spending on things that, I can't help but feel, get us further into creature comforts and further away from what Jesus calls us to do, which is to give and life in close community with the poor. We're toying with ideas of giving half our intended donation to our church and half to charitable programs for food and water, as we're not ignorant of needing to help my church maintain some material possessions in order to help it's honorable mission.

How do any of you deal with this? How do you decide how much should go to your church? And does anyone else struggle with this uneasy feeling that we get caught up in making our churches extravagant?


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#2 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 11:18 AM
 
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Well I don't attend a church right now, but I have some thoughts on this.

When I did go to church I went to a non-denomination church. They always told us that you are supposed to dedicate 10% of your income to the kingdom of God. The way they eaplained it was basicly that, if your money is going to a good cause (perhaps in your case helping the homeless), then it's in Gods kingdom as opposed to spending it on porn or something.

I don't know how well I explained it, but in my opinon if your torn then decide how much money you have to give and split it between church and charity. As far as I know there's nothing spiritual wrong with that.

On a related subject I left my church when they were planning on making major renovations. I think they needed it as far as size and space went, but I got a little irked when thats all we talked about.

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#3 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 11:24 AM
 
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If I'm recalling correctly, the Catholic church has taught that the tithe was yours to decide how to split. So, if you wanted to give 5% to the church and 5% to other charities, that was totally up to you and your conscience. Just to give you perspective on one church's views.

I found this really great chart on Beliefnet that shows how various churches approach giving:
http://www.beliefnet.com/features/tithing_chart.html

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#4 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 11:44 AM
 
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I'm interested in this discussion, too.

DH and I have suspended our contributions to the church because we are NOT AT ALL happy with the leadership. I've taken to giving to some other causes. Our church desperately needs money and repairs, too. I think we're going to go bankrupt and have to sell one our Youth Education building.

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#5 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 11:48 AM
 
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My first consideration for a church body is if they use thier money responsibly. I have no hesitation tithing because I know that they are using that money well. i believe our building is used to Gods glory and according to his call. I believe our staff is top notch and deserve thier modest but comfortable salaries. i believe the work they do by way of missions and community are excellent.

we are adding onto our building (in a weird twist of events we decided to open a daycare. we seriously need more room for that. I think they go a little overboard but not nearly as much as other churhes. I believe the plans are for about 1.5 million which is for a huge expansion, including parking which is surprisingly expensive, and is being paid cash up front.) I don't feel obligated to contribute because I have issues with some of the frills in the new building and the way they are giong about hyping it. So unless God specifically give me an amount to give towards this end i am not inclined to.

If there is a need though I am there. I never hesitate to give there. But I make sure I budget such that i can give both my tithe and still give generously abopve that whereever God is calling.

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#6 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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we are adding onto our building (in a weird twist of events we decided to open a daycare. we seriously need more room for that. I think they go a little overboard but not nearly as much as other churhes. I believe the plans are for about 1.5 million which is for a huge expansion, including parking which is surprisingly expensive, and is being paid cash up front.) I don't feel obligated to contribute because I have issues with some of the frills in the new building and the way they are giong about hyping it. So unless God specifically give me an amount to give towards this end i am not inclined to.
So do you scale your giving to be proportionate to what you think they "need", or do you opt out when there are indulgences at all?

I keep coming back to: There are people who don't have drinking water. Do I really even need a roof on my church until everyone has water? It seems so dogmatic and melodramatic, but......I guess so is starvation.


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#7 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 12:44 PM
 
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i tithe the full amount to the church. how they use thier portion is up to them. Its Gods money from start to finish. not mine so it is not my call. I don't give to the building fund because I feel neither led of my own accord or of Gods.

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#8 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 12:45 PM
 
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I keep coming back to: There are people who don't have drinking water. Do I really even need a roof on my church until everyone has water? It seems so dogmatic and melodramatic, but......I guess so is starvation.
Taking the church's side: will the expanded building attract more people to the church who will be inspired to give even more to provide clean water the world over? Will people be "raised up" through the new church?

.... no answers, just more Qs.

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#9 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 12:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Taking the church's side: will the expanded building attract more people to the church who will be inspired to give even more to provide clean water the world over? Will people be "raised up" through the new church?

.... no answers, just more Qs.
I'm starting to suspect the answer is "no", which is why I feel so uneasy......

Partly, I have a sense that there is a universal desire to constantly push your church to be a prideful reflection of oneself: big, beautiful, air conditioned. And partly I have the sense that perhaps my church in particular is mostly concerned with middle-class specific outreach. We aren't exactly in community with the poor - we're more at-arms-reach, let's-provide-cub-scouts-uniforms-to-underpriveledged-kids-rather-than-get-involved-with-the-thankless-work-of-feeding-hungry-people type of outreach. We're privledged enough to consider AC a "need".


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#10 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 02:23 PM
 
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I believe in giving but I don't believe the tithe is a Biblical mandate. There is the verse about the religious people looking good and looking generous but not taking care of their family members. I think people need to balance both.
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#11 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 02:41 PM
 
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Oh, Shanna! I have to respond to your OP before I read any of the other responses. Our church is kicking off its own Capital Campaign this very month and trying to raise $4 million! I think I would struggle with giving there vs. to basic needs of others IF I doubted the intentions/goals of our church leaders. We have attended this church for 5 years and seen it grow from 500 to 2000+ people and not stop growing despite the fact that we no longer have enough chairs in 2 of our 5 services.

Also, if my church wasn't involved in raising funds for the homeless/needy, I wouldn't give them a cent. We have a very large and active "Compassion Ministry" that does amazing outreach in the community and internationally.

I guess what I'm trying to ask, using my situation as an example is: Do you trust the decisions of the leaders of your church? Are you happy with the level/type of outreach your church is involved with? If you answer no or maybe not to one of those, than I would agree with withdrawing part of your monetary support from the church and putting it elsewhere. If you answer no to both, I would definitely question continuing giving any money to the church.

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#12 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, Shanna! I have to respond to your OP before I read any of the other responses. Our church is kicking off its own Capital Campaign this very month and trying to raise $4 million! I think I would struggle with giving there vs. to basic needs of others IF I doubted the intentions/goals of our church leaders. We have attended this church for 5 years and seen it grow from 500 to 2000+ people and not stop growing despite the fact that we no longer have enough chairs in 2 of our 5 services.

Also, if my church wasn't involved in raising funds for the homeless/needy, I wouldn't give them a cent. We have a very large and active "Compassion Ministry" that does amazing outreach in the community and internationally.

I guess what I'm trying to ask, using my situation as an example is: Do you trust the decisions of the leaders of your church? Are you happy with the level/type of outreach your church is involved with? If you answer no or maybe not to one of those, than I would agree with withdrawing part of your monetary support from the church and putting it elsewhere. If you answer no to both, I would definitely question continuing giving any money to the church.
Steph! I knew I'd see you here . I don't have the sense that I should be punative (or is it punatative? Can't ever remember.....) with our giving - I absolutely trust that my chuch leadership (and my own family, as well) is constantly challenging itself to serve more people. I just have this nagging puritanical feeling that I can't help pay for the proverbial air conditioning when people around the world don't have water or food. This nags me in my personal life as well, with spending money on anything above rice, beans and water. I just don't know how to reconcile it all. Jesus was so specific, he said "give it all away and follow me". I feel like I'm tightly insulated in communities that tell me that Jesus didn't really mean to give it all away, that he really meant that you should have ac, and then buy other people have food and water with whatever is left


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#13 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 03:29 PM
 
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Shanna, Im just like that

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can't help pay for the proverbial air conditioning when people around the world don't have water or food. This nags me in my personal life as well, with spending money on anything above rice, beans and water. I just don't know how to reconcile it all. Jesus was so specific, he said "give it all away and follow me". I feel like I'm tightly insulated in communities that tell me that Jesus didn't really mean to give it all away, that he really meant that you should have ac, and then buy other people have food and water with whatever is
I wonder if its just a personality thing or if its genuinely a heart of compassion. I totally feel ya there. I would keep praying about it. I know the Lord will give you direction, clear and concise directions on things like this. I personally would give what I felt was right but split the tithe between giving to the church and another charity I felt was worth it.
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#14 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 03:40 PM
 
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It my church, we would probably learn something along the lines of abundance and prosperity thinking. If you view the a/c as a trade-off between clean water and your comfort than it will be. But if you come from the attitude that there is abundance - that God provides, that you can have both clean water and A/C, then you will.

I hope that's not overly simplistic. What I hear you saying is that you don't DESERVE comfort things. I struggle with this myself.

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#15 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 04:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It my church, we would probably learn something along the lines of abundance and prosperity thinking. If you view the a/c as a trade-off between clean water and your comfort than it will be. But if you come from the attitude that there is abundance - that God provides, that you can have both clean water and A/C, then you will.
Ellien, you may have just rocked my world .

I'm going to have to think about this a lot. Last night, DH and I were talking about the fallacy of charity being about "bringing every up" in a system that isn't sustainable. To quote DH, "Frankly, it's just impossible for everyone to live like upper-middle class americans. There just isn't enough of everything." But what you've said does at least give a foothold to compare what is mutually exclusive and what isn't. Gotta think about this......


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#16 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 04:56 PM
 
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My DH and I have been really challenged in the area of giving in the past year or so and have really been burdened for the worlds' orphans. We are huge proponents of simple living, social justice, etc. and, although I see Jesus as calling us to that lifestyle, I don't always see our church leadership concurring (the church sponsored Ladies' Shopping Trip next week has me fuming!: )

Here is a really interesting article that talks about the church's role historically and currently in caring for the poor. EMBEZZLEMENT: THE CORPORATE SIN OF CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITY? by Ray Mayhew

Here is a quote from the article:

The amount given to church and para-church bodies was in the region of $276 billion—not nearly what it should be, but still a lot of money. However, the big question is, when we look at that which is given to the church, is how do we spend it? The United Nations has calculated that for $35–$40 billion per year, basic social services could be provided to all the poorest people on the planet. This includes both primary schooling and basic health care and nutrition. Reggie’s point, therefore, is undoubtedly true. There are vast amounts of revenue in our midst, which, if properly channeled, could have a huge impact on global poverty. Sadly, only a fraction goes in this direction. All the research indicates that the percentage of our budget given away that in no way directly benefits our members—and therefore can be channeled to missions and the poor—is decreasing year by year (now at about 15 cents of every donated church dollar).

I've currently been pondering this: 1) all my possessions come from and belong to God, who "loans" them to me temporarily 2) Jesus says whenever I give to the "least of these" I give to him 3) if He already owns it, it's my responsibility to give my excess back to Him (by giving it to the "least of these"). Thus, giving to the poor is not mercy or charity, it's justice!

Right now, we give a tithe to our local church and a tithe to an African orphanage we support. Whenever extra $$$ comes in, we give more to Africa, NOT the church. In your case, I personally would probably give my tithe to the church and any extra giving to a ministry for the poor. Of course, that's me - I'm sure God will lead you to the right decision for your family.

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#17 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 04:57 PM
 
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I don't have a church, yet have a very, very close walk with God. Being raised in a church though, I struggled with this for years. Even when I learned to crochet and saw a few ladies in the forum giving away hats and booties and blankets regularly. I figured, "they give...I'm supposed to give".

After awhile, I came to understand that we each have our own walk and path with god and if we're meant to give and help others, it doesn't necessarily have to be the church's way or charity way.

I'm always trying to encourage, uplift, help people see a clearer picture for their lives. This is what I do. This is how I "serve" god. This is important to me and important to those that I'm to come into contact with. This is my path.

So, saying all of that, it's whatever you feel comfortable with.
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#18 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 05:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Here is a really interesting article that talks about the church's role historically and currently in caring for the poor. EMBEZZLEMENT: THE CORPORATE SIN OF CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITY? by Ray Mayhew.
Thank you SO much for that - my confusion on this issue has me feeling more aliened than usual from people . I've printed the article out, I'm going to read it this weekend.

OT: Good luck on the adoption process . I'll pray for patience for you too, I've heard rumors of just how much patience you need .


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#19 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 06:57 PM
 
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I agree that prayer is probably the best way to the answer...

I can offer a fairly worldly perspective. In my last job (in the area of small scale sustainable agriculture), I got involved in the fundraising aspect, and went to a couple of workshops. Unfortunately I can't five specific figures, because it's been awhile and I have no idea where my notes are. But one thing the presentor brought up was that a far larger proportion of the money given as donations in the US is given to religious causes than to any other category of causes--environmental was one of the smallest. In many cases environmental causes of course are a form of poverty relief.

Honestly though I think with almost all donations there's the concern about whether the money or work could reach the people who need it most more efficiently. That money can be so important.

Obviously I'm inclined to agree with your thought which prompted you to post... however if you determine that you're directed to give to the building fund, do so without worry, because there may be a plan in the background which you can't know about which means that it's the right thing to do.
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#20 of 50 Old 10-27-2006, 09:19 PM
 
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OT: Good luck on the adoption process . I'll pray for patience for you too, I've heard rumors of just how much patience you need .
Thanks so much for this! It truly does mean a lot -we're learning that adoption is not an easy journey, but it will be well worth it in the end! The prayers of our friends are really getting us through some difficult days.

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#21 of 50 Old 10-28-2006, 06:39 AM
 
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I'd feel weird giving them money for that too. It seems like a waste and I wouldn't have a problem directing my giving elsewhere. One church here we sometimes attend is trying to raise heaps of money to get a bigger building with AC. We (and I suspect others) stopped giving them any money at all and lately they've stopped mentioning it. Pulling your support could send a message about your priorities that needs to be heard.

Our USA church believes you tithe to The Church (meaning christianity as a whole), not nessicarily your church. We had no problem giving our 10%ish to our church. They use almost half their budget for compassion ministries (well, last fiscal term, I'm out of the loop). Right now though, since we are supported in part by our church we don't tithe to them (it seems silly. We use a portion of the money they give us to support our sponsor children and consider this our tithe. We also give our pocket change (which is actually a lot here) to the local churches we attend here.

I don't have time to read the article right now but I bet I'd like it. DH and I went to the Urbana conference. Last conference had a HUGE focus on Christians reconciling for our forefather's mistakes and being good stewards of what we have now. Some of their stats on what western churches could do if they focused their unnessicary spending abroad infuriated us.

And now that I read the other posts I totaly second Steph. She says it way better than I could hope to! (though the more books I read the better my writing quality so there's hope) Good luck figuring out your call and if in doubt pray. (says the girl who hasn't even done that today... )

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#22 of 50 Old 10-28-2006, 08:51 AM
 
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We're not members of a church, but have found a local organization that is God-centered, and I feel very worthy of our money. They run a homeless shelter, women's shelter, a free medical and dental clinic for anyone without insurance, and give money to the poor for heating costs in the winter. I just feel they're very honest, and grass-roots, and all the money stays right here in our town, so I know it's benefitting actual poor people, and not to make their building fancier.

I got sickened by giving to greedy churches, when my mother's (already mega-) church in Omaha went through major (unnecessary) renovations. They needed and raised millions of dollars and put in a lovely (HUGE) new lobby, with a coffee shop in it!! : I think that's just wrong. My mother justifies it as "well, it makes more people want to come to church, etc."; but from what I've seen, it makes people feel like their doing the "right thing", when they're really skipping the sermon to have a latte. Not something I want to support!

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#23 of 50 Old 10-29-2006, 07:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Here is a really interesting article that talks about the church's role historically and currently in caring for the poor. EMBEZZLEMENT: THE CORPORATE SIN OF CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITY? by Ray Mayhew

Here is a quote from the article:

The amount given to church and para-church bodies was in the region of $276 billion—not nearly what it should be, but still a lot of money. However, the big question is, when we look at that which is given to the church, is how do we spend it? The United Nations has calculated that for $35–$40 billion per year, basic social services could be provided to all the poorest people on the planet. This includes both primary schooling and basic health care and nutrition. Reggie’s point, therefore, is undoubtedly true. There are vast amounts of revenue in our midst, which, if properly channeled, could have a huge impact on global poverty. Sadly, only a fraction goes in this direction. All the research indicates that the percentage of our budget given away that in no way directly benefits our members—and therefore can be channeled to missions and the poor—is decreasing year by year (now at about 15 cents of every donated church dollar).
This article annunciated so perfectly what I was feeling, and it really clarified for me what the right thing to do is. THANK YOU SO MUCH for introducing this to me, you've changed my life .


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#24 of 50 Old 10-30-2006, 12:35 AM
 
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Thus, giving to the poor is not mercy or charity, it's justice!
: The Hebrew word for "charitable" giving, tzedakah, in fact means "justice." There is a difference between tzedakah and charity (which comes from a Greek word meaning "love/attraction"): You give tzedakah because it is just (right), while you give charity because you care. Puts a different spin on things.

At any rate, to the topic at hand. My husband and I attend a Quaker Meeting, and one of the things that we both like about it is that the building is not in any way exceptional or flashy. Being an unprogrammed Meeting, there is no staff to pay, but of course there are building expenses (electricity, etc). I'm not even sure how they collect money, but I do know that occasionally someone will be collecting for a specific cause, usually one of furthuring peace efforts either locally or globally. Most money collected is spent in this fashion, and the business meetings (Mike has attended a couple, I haven't) are run via concensus-- if one person doesn't like the way that the money is being spent, nothing will happen, kwim? Everyone has to agree. Everyone who attends the Meeting is invited to the business meetings, so the church is always *entirely* and *exclusively* accountable to it's members. Charitable causes are seen in a different light, then; everyone must agree that whatever they're raising money for is in the spirit of the group, and all that good stuff.

If a member in long standing said, "I think we should get a bigger building with air conditioning instead of the one window air conditioner and ceiling fans," every other member at the business meeting would have to agree to that before they even discussed collecting the cash for such an endeavor. In a very personal way, each member is responsible for the Meeting and the Meeting is responsible to each member.

It sounds to me as though you have some concerns about your voice being heard by your church's leadership. If you have reservations about this, perhaps other members feel similarly, and if enough members feel this way you should probably approach your church's leadership about the matter. Let them know how you feel about the fundraising campain and the building campaign, and that you are not alone in your feelings. Pray on the matter, discuss it with your husband and your friends, etc. If this is entirely the idea of 2 or 3 people, maybe the rest of the congregation feels much as you do; conflicted about the entire thing.

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#25 of 50 Old 10-30-2006, 01:10 AM
 
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After we made this decision, it occured to me that I was able to sacrifice thousands of dollars a year to help my church get air conditioning, and what would this money do for people who don't have food, water, shelter or clothing? I have a very uneasy feeling that I'm helping my church get away from "living simply", when I could be using my family's enormous sacrifice to help others "Simply live". I'm not just torn about making the extra donation to help with the capital campaigns luxuries, but even struggling with the idea of giving enormous sums of money to the general budget each year when our church is clearly living beyond "simple". While I know that our churches give benevolently, it's usually in concert with spending on things that, I can't help but feel, get us further into creature comforts and further away from what Jesus calls us to do, which is to give and life in close community with the poor. We're toying with ideas of giving half our intended donation to our church and half to charitable programs for food and water, as we're not ignorant of needing to help my church maintain some material possessions in order to help it's honorable mission.

How do any of you deal with this? How do you decide how much should go to your church? And does anyone else struggle with this uneasy feeling that we get caught up in making our churches extravagant?
I feel this way too even though I don't go to an extravagant church. I feel like going back to the Acts church where people/families would meet in homes. Even in a modest church you pay for the building and a FT pastor. What if we took all that money and put it directly to helping people.

I struggle with this uneasy feeling but I am not sure what to do about it. We could start a home church someday. I feel like the USA church model is to get bigger and "better" so it is not as easy as switch churches KWIM?

I am not sure how to say this, but I don't thik a extravagant church with all the trimmings is what God is focusing on. As you do, I just want to live my life as closely to Jesus model (sacrifice, love, humility) as I can.

I read your story to Dh and he said that you could designate a large portion of your offerings to missions. He says he totally relates too. Prayer is my only solution right now.

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#26 of 50 Old 10-30-2006, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You've all given such thoughtful responses - it's been so wonderful to know that others are struggling with this too.

As you can see in a pp, the article that njsummer posted really spoke to me - yelled in my ear, is more like it At the risk of getting so bogged down with the legalism of a tithe (10%? Before taxes or after taxes? Is that all you are called to give, even if giving that doesn't "hurt"?), I felt the heavens open up when he said that, point blank, the tithe belongs to the poor (eilonwy annunciated it beautifully), and that the remaining 90% of your income goes to supporting your family, including your extended family, which would include your church. He's suggesting that what you give to your church to support the things that bring comfort to you and support your community with the church must, by way of justice, come from your remaining 90%. I shy away from these legalistic numbers in principle, and yet they feel so right to me.

Newcastlemama, what you said about returning to home churches and fighting against the trend of de facto "growing" and "expanding" really spoke to me. I wonder how we got so far away from the primary focus of houses of worship being serving the oppressed, and is it possible to reverse this when churches are fighting to keep their doors open? I can't help but feel that the solution to the decline of attendance in some denominations lies precisely in this dilemma: Nothing would attract me more to a church than to see how much they are putting their bodies where their doctrine is, that as a member I'd have unparallelled opportunies for serving others and communing with God, for meaning in an otherwise empty culture.


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#27 of 50 Old 10-30-2006, 12:02 PM
 
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I don't have much to add to the discussion. I've just been : in this very thought provoking thread, and want to say that I've found what so many of you ladies have said to be very inspiring.

Thanks for starting the thread, Shanna, and I especially like this:
Quote:
Nothing would attract me more to a church than to see how much they are putting their bodies where their doctrine is, that as a member I'd have unparallelled opportunies for serving others and communing with God, for meaning in an otherwise empty culture.

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#28 of 50 Old 10-30-2006, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't have much to add to the discussion. I've just been : in this very thought provoking thread, and want to say that I've found what so many of you ladies have said to be very inspiring.

Thanks for starting the thread, Shanna, and I especially like this:
I was hoping you'd show up here too Your Catholic faith has such a strong tradition of serving the poor and having a more liberal view of who a tithe should serve....I knew there had to be traditions that were sharing my concerns.

DH and I had a wonderful discussion about this yesterday and made some important decisions - I feel so calm about it now, I can't believe how much chaos I was feeling about this.


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#29 of 50 Old 10-30-2006, 01:00 PM
 
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: The Hebrew word for "charitable" giving, tzedakah, in fact means "justice." There is a difference between tzedakah and charity (which comes from a Greek word meaning "love/attraction"): You give tzedakah because it is just (right), while you give charity because you care. Puts a different spin on things.
That's such an interesting point!

Shanna, I'm glad the article spoke to you - it sure did speak to us!

Thanks ladies for such an interesting discussion of a very important topic!

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8-21-05
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#30 of 50 Old 10-30-2006, 02:00 PM
 
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How do any of you deal with this? How do you decide how much should go to your church? And does anyone else struggle with this uneasy feeling that we get caught up in making our churches extravagant?
For me, I give what i can. Being a sahm on a tight budget doesn't give me the chance to give 5-10%. It's just impossible. I give what i can. God doesn't say you have to give 10% or whatever $. All he wants is for us to help those who needs it.

With that said, my church is also doing a compaign to be able to put in a wheelchair access/elevator. This will probably help with the elderlies in the community. It's a great idea that i do support but can't give as much as i can.

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