Dear Salvation Army, Short Changing Tithe?

This is a pondering that attempts to meddle – I’m sorry.
I was asked by one of our readers to do a pondering on this topic…it’s a good one.  It is a rather relevant one too, isn’t it?  If we were truly honest with ourselves (and no one else) – we might admit that there are times when we take our resources and our blessings for granted.

Individually 
powerballIn a world, currently that is consumed with who will win the next Powerball lottery jackpot, we don’t often fathom what we already have to be a true blessing…because we crave more.

I do not mean to step on anyone’s toes today, any more than I am already stepping heavily upon my own – and this hurts.  But I can confess that I have, at times, neglected to give the Lord the best…instead I’ve given Him what’s left.  Why would we do such a thing? How could we neglect the Author of Life our first fruits?   Life does happen.  Bills sometimes pile up.  Children, like vacuums, suck the dollars right out of your wallet.  But are those just excuses sometimes?  Am I just attempting to rationalize my spending or my haphazard, inconsistent giving?  -Yes.  tithe

You might say that I’m being hard on myself…perhaps I am.  But who ought to take responsibility for what we do or don’t do?  Will anyone else take that blame from me?  Is it someone else’s fault when I short change God with my tithes of time, talent and treasure? Of course not.

Corporately
I am not shifting blame, please don’t take it that way.
I wonder sometimes if, as leaders, we set the bar higher for others and yet that bar suddenly doesn’t apply to us?  Does this happen?  Are there times (in any organization and/or church) when leadership decides these are the guidelines for those under them, but those same guidelines do not apply to the administrators of those same guidelines?  Do double standards apply to financial giving from Administration to Subordinates?  Does this happen from IHQ/THQ/DHQ/Corps?  I certainly hope not, this is not necessarily my experience.
trim
Where does financial accountability play into this?
How important is it to be consistent from Administration all the way down to volunteer and soldier/adherent/attendee?

Let me give you my opinion on this subject – Accountability matters from the top down, and from the down to the top.  We must be accountable with the big things, we must also be accountable with the small things regardless of rank or lack there of.

Back To You And Me
We can not, however,  afford to look over the fence at anyone else other than ourselves when it comes to being good stewards of the things God has given to us to take care of.  We are accountable first to God, then to those He has placed above us.  What we do with our time, talent and treasure matters.  How we spend any of that – matters.  Who we are in and out of church or the office – matters.  There isn’t a time clock that we sluggishly punch each day then get home and take off our masks to become someone else.  We are His – that should be our identity.

Questions to Ponder:
I find it very interesting that other “churches” (and I know we’re not specifically a church) support the ministries they do through tithing…It is equally interesting that most Salvation Army corps cannot fully support the ministries they do in their communities, let alone World Services through tithing alone…is that a good thing or bad thing?   Is it because many of our corps members do not have the financial resources to consistently tithe?  (this could very well be the case)

Have I, or am I (on a personal level) short changing God in my tithing?
Am I building MY kingdom here with stuff, trophies of my accomplishments, hoarding my resources…is this who I am?
Are there areas of my life where self-denial is lacking?
Can I be honest with myself and with God when it comes to my tithing habits?
Are there other places in the world that could use my financial contributions?
Do I give consistently to World Services?
Do I give consistently to my Corps?
Do I care about poverty in my world?  What can I do to help?
Do my contributions matter?
Am I giving enough?  Is it Net or Gross Pay?

There is much to discover and ponder in this topic today…I hope the shoe prints on our toes fade…then again, maybe not.

Something more to for us to ponder today!

Disclaimer: The opinions and thoughts expressed in Pastorsponderings.org are the expressed opinions and thoughts of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Salvation Army.  

Churches – “We’re outsourcing our benevolence funds”…Really?

Is the need that great?
Are churches having trouble “keeping up”?
Why are some churches outsourcing the care of the poor to agencies?
Isn’t there some sort of responsibility that churches ought to have in regards to helping those in need?

It is mind boggling to me when I come across community churches that have outsourced one of its primary functions in as Christians to a created agency to facilitate.   They are happy to funnel their “charity” funds into a created social service office somewhere off of their church buildings.  It almost says to the outside world – we’re interested only in those who can support themselves but we don’t want the riffraff of society  in our beautiful buildings.

The Benefit of the doubt: church1
Granted, there are always new legalities and policies within cities taking place which makes it difficult for some churches to serve the needy.

Secondly, some churches do not have the budgets for staffing full time social service employees to facilitate this need.

Thirdly, storage and distribution space.

changeBut…
(and it’s a big one) does this mean ONLY parishioners/members of that church can have access to services?
The danger in this kind of model of social distribution of services (and it really does exist) is that support for individuals in need is managed in a discriminatory fashion.  If you do not belong to the “club” you cannot receive help…”but here are a list of food pantries in the area that we can direct you to.”  That’s all well and good but don’t you think the message it is sending is “you don’t belong here, please go somewhere else…Members only!”?

Outsourcing:
The only kind of outsourcing Jesus did was delegating responsibilities to his disciples.
It was for their education as disciples.
It was to help them and to grow as future leaders.
Jesus didn’t send people on their way to the temple administrators.
He didn’t tell some “I can’t heal you because you aren’t a member”

Why do some churches take this path?
Does it deviate from the true purpose of “Church”?
Does it seem to send a message of “We care, but not in our backyard“?

I ponder these things today with open questions because honestly I don’t have the answers.
I just see that certain churches have become pretentious in appearances and treat benevolence like a blight or an annoyance that they deal with once or twice a year with a collection.

Is this not important?
Are we not to care for the orphans, widows and poor?
Has it become beneath the modern American church?
If that person isn’t a member is there any help that we can give them?

Something more to ponder today.

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