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Family Obedience

Sometimes you get reminded vividly just how glorious our journey has been as a Church Family…

While visiting our Moms back in Kansas, Tina and I were both reminded of the stark differences between church as a structured organization and Church as a Family. Only the second option is Biblical, and only the Biblical model of Church as true Family is healthy!

My Mother shared about the Church I grew up in, and the financial struggles that go on in it. As a marriage counselor, I can tell you that financial disputes are a major cause of divorce…

Mind you, the congregation has over a million dollars in the bank in the form of trust funds and memorial gifts. Yet groups and committees fight and connive within the congregation constantly over which pet project will get accomplished and by whom… Imagine the saints conspiring to circumvent the Trustees, for instance…

The congregation, which averages at least 150 more in weekly attendance than we do—in a town that is Cookeville-sized but has a higher household income than Cookeville—collected about a hundred-thousand less dollars in tithes and offerings than we did in 2017. Still, they completed over $150,000.00 in stained-glass window repairs. How? Designated giving and capital campaigns—or, in other words, brass plaques and control through “giving.”

No wonder one group fights with another over whether a new roof or a new oven wins the day. No wonder there are constant turf wars over who gets to do what. No wonder that Memorial funds often dictate what ministries will be started and funded…or stopped and forgotten.

“Honoring” the dead becomes just another way of controlling the church… Manipulating the surviving family members who control how memorial gifts are spent becomes something of a sport, as folks are encouraged to spend “their” money one way or another…

Here is the question: Would our Heavenly Father ever behave this way? Is there any Biblical warrant for this kind of structure and the broken behavior it leads to? Do capital campaigns, designated giving, and Memorial fund-ministry ever honor God more than simple tithing? NO! A THOUSAND TIMES, NO!!!

What we heard was a horror story of a church family pushing and fighting and deceiving—through… “Giving?!” Sound familiar? It is the most common way to fund churches in our Country—and totally unbiblical.

Calling controlled and controlling giving a “tithe” or an “offering” is just offensive to the Lord. Giving to God means just that—GIVING—without any sense of control or designation or dishonesty in the process. Trying to look good to others while lying to the Church—really, to the Holy Spirit—was Ananias’ and Saphira’s game. It didn’t work out too well for them…!

It took years, and Amy Fletcher, with her keen moral compass and great administrative gifts did far more to right this ship than I did. But over time and with more than a little resistance, the leadership of this church stopped all forms of designated and memorial giving. No more pet projects and no more brass plaques. We have one account. Tithing is the only norm, and it comes without plaques or recognition other than what the Lord has promised—a treasure in heaven. Money is spent as the Spirit leads, not the giver. We live as a Family unit, not as a financial fight club…!

Why do I mention this? Because this is an important part of the Spiritual DNA of this church which the Lord desires to replicate in other places. Giving in the churches He plants through us will look like simple tithing—with Jesus as the star giver and the only one deserving of a “plaque”—in His case, a Cross…!

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