Yesterday I had my annual physical and am very happy to say that I am healthy! I took an extensive battery of blood tests that came back very good. Not bad for a guy my age. This is especially good news considering how much tobacco and especially alcohol I have consumed over the years. Thank you, Jesus! Now, I need to lose the rest of my flab.
I don’t know if you caught it or not, but BreakPoint yesterday addressed the Lauren Daigle issue from the same angle I did on Monday. “BreakPoint: Lauren Daigle on the Spot. Why We All Should Be Prepared for This Question” http://www.breakpoint.org/2018/12/breakpoint-lauren-daigle-on-the-spot/
If you recall, I challenged you to ask whether or not your church adequately prepares your congregation for the “Is homosexuality a sin?” question. I would say very few churches properly equip their members to go out and confidently answer that question or any other hot-topic question. I maintain that responsibility lies with both the leadership and the congregation in this matter. I addressed this a few days ago: https://hislightshines.com/2018/12/04/2018-12-04-accountable-like-it-or-not/ .
What do you think about this? Yes, the pastor and elders are accountable for equipping their members, but the members are also accountable for requiring their leadership to do what they need. I have a mixture of both who read these posts. What do you think? Do we find this difficult to even think about? It’s no easy problem to fix. I have a couple thoughts on that.
Overhead. Our churches have massive overhead, primarily in the form of pastoral compensation and debt. We are now living paycheck to paycheck. Proverbs 22:7 teaches, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Our church is at the mercy of the congregation’s generosity, right? We can’t say we have lots of money because our members, overall, are tithing. In politics, campaign money isn’t spent on those firmly in the camp, but, rather, it is spent on “swing votes.” Can we say it is any different with our church? Do we dare speak boldly against homosexuality and gender fluidity in light of offending enough “swing contributors”? Apart from liberal churches, I would say that more conservative churches used to be bold, but I’m not so sure anymore. Today, our young adults look at these topics much differently that ten years ago, even five. Could it be that our overall teaching and specific training has been softened to accommodate these monthly givers who in economic terms would be labeled “at the margin” – not because they don’t give much but because they are the swing votes. If that is the case, we have forgotten or even ignored basic biblical truths.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
There is another way of looking at this overhead problem. I’m a banker by trade. We have a saying that goes something like this: If you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem; if you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem. It’s another way of saying the tail begins to wag the dog. In a typical church, you have a small number of people who tithe. In absolute dollars, some of these give considerably more than others, but the percentages of their income would be similar. The vast majority of “giving units” would contribute a very small amount of their income. I have not seen statistics, but I think it would be reasonable to say the 80/20 rule would apply, as it does with so many things in life. If a church starts to ruffle the feathers of the marginal contributors, the Sunday headcount starts to visibly fall. Not only that, but some of these people might be very vocal to the pastor. It’s very tempting to cave into these demands.
Can you see where I’m going with this? When the budget has grown disproportionately beyond the core tithing group, the church is at the mercy of the giving basket. When that happens, it is very, very tempting to avoid hot-topic issues, issues that need to be addressed but aren’t for fear of offending too many people. When that happens, the borrower owns the bank, not in real terms but in practical terms. The tail wags the dog.
This is no easy topic to face. How much influence does money have on the decision-making process of your church? I’ll bet it is more than you care to admit. As with any wealth, it is deceiving. It’s one thing to be rich and within your means. It’s quite another to be crippled by missing a couple paychecks.
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation:
“I know your works, you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Is there a lesson here for us? I think so. If you are a pastor, does this ring in your ears? How about the elders out there? What about you, those who are in the congregation? The pastor needs faith to have courage, as do the elders. The congregation needs to encourage them to lead according to biblical principles. Is our church avoiding hot topics? Why? We are all in this together, folks. Not only that, but each of us will answer for this.
Romans 14:2 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
So, tell me, how would you answer the “Is homosexuality a sin?” question?
Father, I know I am going to irritate a lot of people with this. Please be with me. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers