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Listen while you read: "Anywhere With Jesus"1 (Lyrics)
The latest project that I am working on right now is compiling all my journal entries and transferring them onto a disc, as a sort of memoir for my children. I found one journal entry that I wrote a few years ago that intrigued me:
- Today, I am a bit frustrated. I feel like resigning from the Church Council. It is always the same topic — finances and grasping for new ideas in order to "entice" new "prospective" members so that they would help pay church expenses. In my opinion, the church has become a "business" instead of just simply spreading God's message of salvation. We talk about changes happening within the church's structural foundation, but not changes within our hearts. God is not on the throne anymore. Our trust is not in God, but in ourselves. Our churches have the latest technology in computers, are on the Internet, are continuously holding seminars and training events, including many meetings for this and for that, which create so much paperwork for the secretary and the pastor that visitation to the hospitals, our shut-ins and people in general, are put on the side burner. Our pastors and secretaries are paid by monies already set out by the hierarchy of the church and we are told how much to pay for their benefits, health plan, pension and salary, just like any other business.
As I think about this, the following Bible passage comes to mind:
2 Corinthians 9:7-8 – Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. (NRSV)
Do we really trust God that He will provide? I believe that this is one of the reasons why our churches are not growing. God is allowing this for some reason. We need to grow up and look up! As long as our focus is on money and worrying about it and not on people and spreading God's message "freely" without any hidden agendas, we will eventually die — not physically, but spiritually, and as a congregation.
Matthew 6:25-27 – Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? (NRSV)
Prayer: Almighty God, we need to return to You and love You with our whole beings. Help us to put our trust in You and not in ourselves. We pray for ministers and teachers who are dependent on Your truth and who have the courage to stand up for what is right and true. We pray that our newly ordained ministers may have the true calling to spread Your message of salvation and that their motivation not be just a job. Amen.
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Well said Rosemary. Too many congregations & hierarchy are focusing on buildings and not people, & deep down we all know the church is not the building, the church is the people. Thank you.
Sadly Rosemary, I have to agree completely with you. The church is no longer about souls, but a business more interested in how much income those souls can part with. Cheerfully though having faith in the Lord has always brought me far more than my needs (some to share) and much more than I have deserved at times I feel. Have a wonderful Sunday and week. God Bless.
Amen and Amen to your message today, Rosemary. We need to get back to being the church! I especially like what you said in your prayer – We pray that our newly ordained ministers may have the true calling to spread Your message of salvation and that their motivation not be just a job. Too many ministers are looking for a job and it is not a true calling. Thanks for writing this and God bless you.
Thank you Rosemary
Today’s devotional hit nail right on the head. I have been a Priest for over 30 years and my greatest frustration was the Lay Leadership who served on Parish Council. They seemed too concerned about money, and buildings while ignoring what is essential — their spiritual welfare — and that of the rest of the congregation and the community beyond the church building into which we are called to go and make Christ known by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen to that Rosemary! Many churches today are nothing more than entertainment centers. Also may I ask, where in scripture is there any mention of youth pastors? What I have been observing is the hiring of young men who are called youth pastors and their primary role is to entertain the youth. They are actually causing a greater “generation gap” which the rock music has already created, along with the educational structures. Our churches today need to repent and return to God’s word! But scripture warns that these days will come prior to Christ’s return! II Timothy 3:1-7; 4:1-4. God bless you Rosemary.
Thank you very much for this; it is very refreshing!
When I get mad about things going wrong in the church, I complain to God and I always get the same answer. God tells me I am in “Sales” (preach the Gospel by word and deed) and that He is Management (running the show).
Years ago, my church was adding a new building and someone asked me why I did not get on the building committee.
I told them that I did not want to lose my faith!
Anyhow, keep writing and keep your sense of humor. If things become too much of a business, Our Lord will show up and clean house.
God love you,
Our motto should be “In God We Trust”. Instead we trust in the strength of the preaching, or the music, or the programming, or the size of our congregation.
We exercise our bodies to keep fit but forget prayer & Bible study to grow our faith-muscles and keep our spiritual lives fit.
We spend all kinds of time honing our skills in our sport of choice or our grooming or beautifying our homes or in the latest technology, yet hate to spend more than that one hour weekly in corporate worship.
We spend lavishly on ourselves but give grudgingly of our time & resources to the Lord (forgetting that ALL is from Him and He expects only the first-fruits back).
In many cases, as both individual families and as church families, we are so focused inward we fail to let God into the situation. We fail to see our own people and their needs, let alone look outside ourselves to the the needs in our communities and beyond.
We are too busy being “politically” correct we don’t confront sin or even mention it. Yes, we are all “sinners called by grace”. Not one of us is perfect (except God, Himself). But, if we overlook obvious sin in the guise of “loving the sinner”, and never or rarely discipline and correct or teach on what the bible says in the particular circumstance, and even allow such into leadership in our congregations, is it any wonder we are not growing but rather stagnating. We are too timid and too afraid of offending.
We fatalistically accept the shrinking of the church and its influence in today’s society and talk if its demise rather than planning its future with positive vision.
Our idea of change is fulfilled by buying into the technology of the day, not teaching and preaching inner, heart change or repentance. We are not “Christians” by osmosis or absorption or heredity or church attendance.
It’s an affair of the heart.
We need to do more than merely hope our lives reflect the gospel. We need to be “doers and not just listeners”. We also need to be more pro-active and less passive in spreading the Good News of Salvation!
Thank God for His words in 2 Corinthians 9:7-8.
Lets be encouraged to give our all to God.
Lets play our part well and leave the rest.
I’m sometimes challenged with payment of my tithe when I think of what the amounts are used for. I dwindle but then again His words assures me that mine is to pay and leave the worries of what it will be used for.
Have the best and keep them coming.
You’ve put into beautiful words my thoughts as well.
I spoke up a couple of years ago (difficult for me) when members of the Church went on and on about finances. You put it so well here.
My comments were “isn’t God in control and do you think God likes the way some Church’s store up their money?”
Thanks for sharing.