The Church Up The Street handled finances differently than most congregations: We didn’t take offerings or have a church bank account. We could legitimately say we didn’t want people’s money. We got asked a lot why and how we could operate this way. Here are several answers:
First, we believed the Gospel would be more effectively communicated to the lost if we took away the constant complaint of non-Christians: “They just want my money!” We didn’t, and our philosophy about that gave proof.
Secondly, we wanted to free people to use the money they would normally give their church to minister to others. If their neighbor or co-worker was in financial need, we wanted them to be able to give to meet that need, in the name of Jesus.
We also wanted to free people to tangibly meet the needs of fellow disciples who were in need. Jesus commanded us to love one another, and this view of giving helped us do it. We encouraged everyone who was a part of The Church Up The Street to open a special checking account. We called them “Kingdom Accounts”, and each person could regularly set aside whatever amount God put on their hearts and give as they were led.
Let’s face it, many people are torn between giving to their local congregations and giving to others in need. Often we can’t do both. We’re forced to choose between one or the other. By telling people we didn’t want their money, they were free to give to whatever need God put on their heart: a fellow Christian, a neighbor or family member, or any worthy ministry.
How could we possibly do this? It was simple. Think about how much money is spent on church meeting facilities, overhead expenses and salaries. The amount is staggering. We eliminated these, and that’s why we didn’t need to take offerings. We met in places that were already paid for: Business and homes. Our leaders volunteered because they had other sources of income.
This is impossible for the church building kind of churches. The good news is, any house church can do it! It works!
What do you think would happen if more churches found a way to approach finances like this? Would you support it? Would you be against it? Do you think it could work?
In the movie “Back To The Future”, 17 year old, Marty Mcfly, lives a lousy life. His dad, George, a nerdy scaredy cat, and his mom, Larraine, is an alcoholic, who met George through pity, when her dad hit George with a car. All he has ever known is this reality. The only thing that he can do for fun, is hang out with the local scientist, Dr. Emmit Brown (Doc) who has created a time machine. You know the story. Marty goes back in time and changes how his parents meet. In the process everything that was wrong with his life and family is dramatically changed for the good.
When I contemplate the current state of the American Evangelical church, I wish we could get into that DeLorean and head back in time. If we could, perhaps we would be able to intervene at just the right moment so that today’s church reflected God’s design rather than our own. We can not time travel back to the first century, but we can read their documents to see how they understood “Church.” It is good to look at history to observe how things “were”. We often look at how things “are” and assume that’s this is the way things are supposed to “be”… Read the rest of this entry
Over the past few days, hundreds of people have read and commented on our post “Does God Care How We Worship?” As a follow-up to that post, we have created an online poll asking the question: “What is the Most Important Element of Corporate Worship for you Personally?” We hope you will take the time to vote. We will reveal the results in two weeks. About the poll: We understand that we are asking you to make a choice that in the real world you may not have to make. However, for the sake of the poll, we want you to vote for the one thing you just cannot live without in a CORPORATE worship setting. Feel free to comment, or to add an element that is not on the poll. Following Him together, Jim