I have been asked by several persons to provide a follow up to my last post-The Prophetic Hope of the Church: Giving. If you have not read that post, please take time to read it before continuing on.
In summary I stated the following:
The people of God that gather in the many congregations across Conway need to consider with all thoughtfulness the stewardship and distribution of their financial offerings. With an excess of one-hundred and fifty churches throughout the city of Conway, there is no reason as to why the needs of the poor cannot be addressed in a loving and systematic manner. Our current economy in my estimation is requiring local churches to seriously reconsider the manner in which they are using their finances. If we continue to elevate the message of Christ sacrifice and are not willing to sacrifice our finances; we are in danger of blaspheming the God we claim to so passionately pursue.
In the above summary there is a call to “thoughtful consideration, loving execution and the warning of hypocrisy. I am not ignorant of the fact that there are a few local churches in our city that have set aside funds to assist persons on a periodic basis. I am able to make this assertion pretty confidently because my office maintains a list of those churches and organizations that distribute; clothing, food, and some utility assistance.
What I will not relent on and what I believe is the failure of the majority of our local churches in our city is the apparent low priority given to the commitment and distribution of actual dollars to assist the poor in our city on a continual basis. Let me be clear; the burden rests on these local congregations to demonstrate in a very real manner their financial commitment to the poor in our city. The level of commitment to send millions of dollars to Africa, Haiti and other countries in the form of short term mission trips does not excuse the neglect in our greatest sphere of influence. The level of commitment to build new facilities, expand old ones or improve technology when persons are out of work and fighting to stay in their homes; is an indictment on what we truly believe about the Gospel.
The days and the decades of church leadership and lay people continuing to use the tired mantras of “they are not members,” “they will misuse our money,” and “there is government aid to assist them,” are periods of darkness that must give away to the light of Christ incarnation in our historical reality. The darkness that is characterized by selfishness, self-preservation and revelry in allurements must give way to the eternal day of the people of God characterized by sacrifice and revolutionary love.
So what does this day practically look like? Well here are just a few recommendations:
Brothers and sisters do not think that the warnings given to the seven churches in Revelation cannot be applied to us as well. If we continue to ignore the weaknesses and frailties of the men and women in our city, as we adorn ourselves in all types of earthly apparel, then there may just come a day in which our Lord will systematically remove lamp stands from our congregations.
My hope though is that this will not be the case. My hope is that the people of God would be awake from her slumber and put on clothing that is equal to the day of Christ. My hope is that the people of God in the city of Conway will reaffirm her identity as God’s elect, selling her earthly allurements for the consolation of others and the praise of God.
This is the ongoing prophetic hope of the church in her giving.