The people's voice of reason

We Don't Want Your Money

I was the new pastor still learning my way around when Jim came to see me. He was chair of the budget and finance team. He wished me well, then shared a concern.

“The committee met lately, and we have an issue with the visitor’s envelopes you’re using,” he said. “We believe we shouldn’t ask visitors for money.”

Churches used to welcome visitors and give them a card requesting contact information and sometimes a ribbon to wear. This was before we learned to call them “guests” and since learned most guests don’t want to be singled out. Anyway, the envelopes I found asked for contact information and at the bottom said, “Please use my offering as an expression of my love for Christ.” I thought it was a non-threatening way to tell guests that should they contribute to our ministries, we’d use their money for God’s work.

My predecessor taught the church two things from the contemporary church movement. This was one. The unchurched, he said, believed churches were after their money, so we should make it clear that we expected only the members to support our ministries. And I agree with this to a point. But I don’t have a problem telling non-members we can accept freewill offerings from them and put the money to good use.

I smiled sweetly after Jim’s visit and went about my business, continuing to use the envelopes. Jim came a second time and expressed dismay, so then I looked for something else to use.

Since that time, I heard a mind-blowing story. I met an inmate in a prison Bible study who told me how he had smuggled drugs across the border until he grew careless (note to law enforcement: check the fender wells). He said he was a devout church member during those days and tithed his drug money!

The inmate didn’t tell me if his church was aware of his occupation; I assume not. But what an ethical decision for a church to make, had they been, whether to use the devil’s money for God’s work.

The other contemporary church principle the former pastor taught was dressing down on Sundays. Advocates further argued another excuse the unchurched had was not having “Sunday” clothes. Hence, church leaders began to urge everyone to dress down, including the pastor.

So now we have “pulpit grunge.”

I must admit being “old school,” still wearing a suit on Sundays, though I don’t really care what others wear as long as they’re modest as Scripture requires.

So, my unchurched friends, we don’t do a hard sell for your money, we don’t have a dress code and we won’t single you out.

We really want you to come! -30-

“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.

 

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