Beating The Sheep

17Aug09

churchAlert the media – I went to church yesterday.  Scratch that, just alert my mother because she’s the only one who really cares.  For the past few months I’ve been in church burn-out mode.  Rather than Sunday mornings being a time of worship and refreshing, church has sort of felt like maddening water torture.  I guess we all go through that from time to time and I don’t feel too bad about.  God made me a complicated and emotional creature so I’m sure He’s not surprised… and judging by some church services I’ve been to in my day, it is quite obvious that He too stays home on occasion.

A year ago, I began visiting my sister’s church.  It’s a protestant non-denominational congregation that meets in an old retired convent.  Apparently, this pastor skipped class the day that his seminary covered the rulebook for organized Southern religion.  It is unlike any other church I have ever been a part of.  There is no elaborate production to their worship.  No one stands on a stage to perform.  Instead of expensive stained glass artwork there is a simple cross made of drift wood that hangs on the wall.  Each prayer request is called out loud and new visitors receive a handwritten card in the mail.  This, to me, is church done well.

tvc

Yesterday, I noticed for the first time that they do not collect an offering.  There is a non-descriptive box by the door for collecting donations.  I’ve worked in the church world for ten years, so I know how important the offering is.  If the congregation doesn’t give, the lights get turned off, VBS doesn’t happen, and the staff members don’t get paid.  Some churches overdo the offertory and people quickly become jaded by church leaders “beating the sheep” to receive donations, as the pastor said yesterday.  Their philosophy is based off of 2 Corinthians 2:7, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

I believe that everyone should donate to something, whether it is church work, world relief or a children’s hospital.  Donating encourages a healthy perspective on money and allows us to feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves.  In 2008, despite the economic crisis, Americans gave more than $307 billion dollars to charities.  Based on that fact alone, I don’t think our great nation is going to fall apart just yet.  We still have a lot of heart left – and heart will carry you a long way.

For where your treasure is… there your heart will be also.
Where is YOUR heart?

Want to get involved but don’t know how?  Here’s a ministry I proudly support and highly recommend.

compassion

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12 Responses to “Beating The Sheep”

  1. Your church sounds absolutely charming! I love that picture of the inside, too. Just simple and beautiful. As you said, “church done well.”

    • 2 eL.

      It really is an amazing place. Definitely not trying to knock any other churches here… *ahem* I just find this particular one very refreshing. If anyone is interested in the name of the church, email me. I’d be happy to share just don’t want to give too much info to the internet crazies out there.

  2. 3 Ashley

    Your church sounds like a place where God is. The idea of giving because your heart leads you and not because you are “bullied” into it makes so much more sense. Personally, I feel like I am giving to the church every time I donate to the Rescue Mission or when I go see Dad at the nursing home. God isn’t literally in the building, he is in the hearts of the folks IN the building. Excellent blog!

    • 4 eL.

      I’m so sick of hearing non-Christians complain about the church just looking for money. If we didn’t give off that impression so much, maybe they wouldn’t think that way. I want to give. I want to support things that I believe in. You don’t have to manipulate me into opening up my wallet if I already support you with my heart.

      God IS in the people around us. More people need to remember that.

  3. 5 Chuck

    Love love love.

  4. 7 waldrop-

    🙂 glad you went with me and i hope you will come again…it sure feels like home when you are there with me, sister. and thanks for the shout-out about compassion. love you! 🙂

    • 8 eL.

      I love going with you for that very reason. Church doesn’t feel right without family.

  5. 9 Matt

    I heard recently that if all American evangelical Christians would tithe, there would be an additional $46 billion for ministry around the world. That is a crazy number. Glad to hear you’ve found a great community to worship in!

  6. 11 Saint Anger

    I’ve never been much of a church man. I do talk to God. We’re on speaking terms. As far as doing my part to help those in need,I use Social Vibe to raise money for the Stand Up To Cancer Foundation. It’s a good cause. I’ve lost 4 family members to cancer. Maybe cancer research will keep someone else from losing someone they love.


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