Dear American Christianity: Part One.

If you’d* all give money to your church, pastors and others on staff there wouldn’t need to be bi-vocational to feed their family.

9% of North Americans who classify themselves as “born again” tithed in 2004.  We spend more as a culture on weight-loss programs or pet food than we give to the church. (source)

If the other 91% of you would give just 10%–imagine the amount of money that would be.  You could hire some more full time workers, send more missionaries fully-funded into the field, and fully support the needy in your community.  If American Christians would just give 10%, we could end world hunger next year.

By the way, 10% is probably a bare minimum by biblical standards for a Christian to give, since the tithe in the Old Testament was replaced by simple encouragements like “give generously” or “give hilariously” in the New Testament.  It is kind of expected that Christians would give, since they have been given so much, by Jesus.  We don’t give to earn God’s favor, but as a result of receiving it.

So give.  Your pastor deserves to be compensated for his work.  If he takes the “pastoral” name off of his counseling duties, they are worth $90 an hour in the marketplace.  And he’s willing to do it for free.  Don’t let him.  Pay your pastors well.

I heard a pastor recently say “If you don’t think this is the best church around here, by all means go to the other one.  But if you do, act like it, and invite a friend.”  I’d say that also carries over to the financial support of your church.  You aren’t acting like it is your church when you aren’t generously financially supporting it.

*after encouragement from my wife, who is nicer than me, I’d like to add that if you give, then the above “you” is not referring to you, and I don’t mean to offend you.  The only people that should be offended by this post are the ones not giving.  I meant to offend them.  For their own good.

Dear American Christianity: Part Two.

(to the pastors)

If the congregation is not generous, it may be because you* aren’t sharing the gospel with them.

A biblical way to motivate people to give is to repeatedly show them how much they’ve been given, and how great the needs are elsewhere.  A person who understands the gospel, that Jesus Paid it All, is far more likely to give, out of a sense of gratitude.  A gospel-perspective on money shows you that Jesus is the treasure of the Christian life, and having HIM melts away a need for more money, more possessions, and more power.  Jesus is the blessing of the gospel, not (necessarily) financial well-being.  The gospel makes generous people out of selfish people.

But as pastors, when you moan about not having enough money, it looks to the watching world like you are en route to becoming Creflo Dollar, with his Rolls Royce and penthouse apartments.  It looks like you care more about the money than the mission.  Yes, money is important, and many churches don’t talk about it enough. Money is a mega-theme running throughout the Bible.  But the gospel is THE theme of the Bible.

You should talk about the gospel more than you talk about the dollars.  Every time I bring someone to church they should hear about the costly death of Jesus.  If the sermon is from Nehemiah, I should hear about the costly death of Jesus, and Him resurrected.  If the song is about how good it is to praise the name of Jesus, the worship leader should point out that apart from his death and resurrection, all of our praises would be filthy rags.  The gospel, that we are wretched sinners saved by an unmatched, righteous, perfect King of kings ought to be the first thing people think about when they leave the service.  It ought to be tied into every component of the service, from the children’s choir to the handbells to the baptisms.  All of it needs to be tied back to the cross, where Jesus was as generous as humanly possible (and more).

Every time you ask for money (which you should), it ought to be an appeal that is drenched in the gospel.  Pastors, you should not want the 10% of someone who you know thinks they are earning God’s favor, or unleashing blessings from God, because that means they’ve missed the blessing of the cross.

*I’ve used the term “you” throughout because this is specifically a note to pastors, as opposed to those of us in non-pastoral ministry.  The same principles apply to us, and by God’s grace, I’ve begun to see how unbiblical even my own heart has been in the (recent) past toward fund-raising.  It’s my prayer that, going forward, all of those of us who make our living from sharing the gospel would keep in mind that we need not panic and manipulate.  God will provide.  The gospel is the power of God.

We’re On a Mission from God. And Our Obstetrician.

My wife is 32 weeks pregnant this week.  For the non-parent males in the audience, that’s 8 more weeks until full term.  Additionally, non-parent males, it’s not a cakewalk to carry around a child that is literally snuggling with your bladder, and punching it from time to time.

Yet today we hit the road on a support trip.  I’m carting her all the way up to Asheville for a few days, and then down I-26 on Sunday to South Carolina for a couple of days.  During that time we’ll be meeting with interested folks to share the amazing things God is doing around our region, and challenging folks to partner with us financially and prayerfully. On Tuesday we’ll be coming back through Winston-Salem.  How long we stay around here is up in the air.

Here’s where you come in.  I’d love it if you’d do one of three things:

  1. If you are into praying (I hear it burns calories and is good for circulation) I’d appreciate it if you’d pray for God to lead us to the right folks with whom to partner.
  2. If you are in Asheville or the Upstate, and you’d like to hear about all that God is doing in and through us, shoot us a message to and let’s schedule a time.  Better yet, see where you fit into our schedule (and propose a time to meet) by clicking here.
  3. If you are not in one of those places and want to see us get back to our assignment fully funded by August (our prayer goal), put your money where your heart is by clicking here. (follow a three step process that follows.  All the cool kids are doing it)

I’m carting around a very pregnant wife and a toddler, because I think this mission is worth it.  We’re so thrilled by what God is doing, and we really want you to know about it.  Prayerfully, this can be a trip that catapults us closer to being fully funded, so that we can be about reaching college students with the greatest story ever told. Now go on back up there and click a link or two.