9th May, 2007

Imagine there’s a church… that represents the King…

I saw some numbers the other day that were purported to be the typical church budget. It showed over 50% of the budget going to compensation of church staff and pastors, about 20% of the budget going to mortgages and bills on properties, and then the remainder of the budget went to things that were nominally or moderately ministry-related. That is, frankly, repulsive.

What if we lived in a world where the community came to the church when it had needs rather than to the government?

What if the local hospital needed a new piece of equipment and the local churches provided the funds to purchase it?

What if the local churches went together to build a new pool and play area for the community’s kids?

What if the local churches built homes for people who were homeless?

What if, when youth delinquency went up, the local churches built a new skating park and donated it to the community?

What if the local churches took the responsibilty for cleaning trash from the streets and byways?

What if, when the city’s waste management system was in need of new equipment, the church went to the community government and provided funds?

What if, when many non-English speaking immigrants enter a community, the local churches took on the responsibility of teaching English as a Second Language courses?

Can you begin to see how we can be the Kingdom here and now? Can you dream with me what a difference this would make?

Oh Daddy, the King of Heaven, may the reality of your Kingdom be shown in the here and now through the work of your bride, the Church, just as it is in heaven! Matthew 6:9-10.

Responses

Bryan, I love your post and have copied it to give to my Pastor. You have some truly God-inspired ideas. Our fellowship is in the process of “going outside the camp bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:13) and we have yet to understand what that looks like for our area.

I hope you don’t mind if I add a few?

What if the “church” came together and helped their congregants get out of debt…and to live a cash-only lifestyle.

What if someone’s daughter became pregnant out of wedlock the “church” came together to help her and not condemn…

What if the “church” cared for the prisoners and wrote to them and ministered to them in Christ’s name…

What if the “church” loved their pastors and staff members above themselves and stopped “voting them out” because they did something someone didn’t like…

What if the “church” stopped criticizing each other and loved each other instead…

Bryan-yes yes.
Marie-yes yes.
Isn’t the problem though, that’s the way we live in our families. Do we really sacrifice for God-give Him everything? Not just money-but yes, our money too. All of it?
Do the scriptures concerning the early church, sharing all things, scare us? Could we ever actually move from our comfort places, if God so spoke to us? Is He speaking and we can’t hear?

What if we really sacrificed for God, our whole being. Would that sacrifice free the hand of God to move in our churches to the end that these churches serve people and communities instead
recruit for more people to come and sit and give money-for what?

May His kingdom come, on earth, as it is in heaven.

Blessings Bryan
Alyce

Alyce, I pray the church does come to what you have described above.

Will the world ever know how much the Father loves them if we can’t even love each other very much?

Yes, it is time for us to get on with “selling everything you own” and sharing so “no-one has need”. As you say, Alyce, everything we have is God’s, why don’t we believe it? I would much rather live off His bank account than my measley one!!! 😀

I pray the larger churches find ways to promote intimate fellowship through small groups or home groups, etc.

I never realized what I was missing out on until my husband and I were led to a small congregation where intimacy in home groups is what it’s about. We come together for a “cell”abration on Sundays for 2 to 2 1/2 hours and it is hard to leave sometimes after that long!

Yes! May His Kingdom come in earth as it is in Heaven!!! 🙂

Fantastic additions and thoughts, Marie and Alyce!

What if small groups wiithin the church pooled their resources for a single mower and shared yard tools?

What if rather than everyone having 2-3 cars in the family, several families shared a larger people carrier and then had a fuel efficient vehicle for primary use.

What if more of us lived in community instead of thinking we are kings of our own castles?

Please feel free to add more!!!

I would like to add a controversial point…. what if the church was the people instead of the building… or institution…. What if there was no hierarchy between the “clergy” and layman. What if the laymen were actually the disciple-makers. What if we gave 95% of our giving to real needs as mentioned above instead of giving the average 5 percent to missions etc….

There is a church here in Texas- I had a friend on staff that spent 90,000 dollars a month for the mortgage or rent of the building. Crazy stuff. Our churches today are more like shopping malls and stadium seated theaters- it is almost repulsive to me. I know this sounds so negative- but I am just concerned about our idea of “church” in the United States. It is scary to me…. You are right, would Christ be pleased with us as stewards in regards to our churches finances- or are some of us trying to build our own Kingdoms down here on earth… It seems that mammom and consumersism and so much of the world is influencing our idea of what is a good “Church”. Is it the biggest one in town, is it traditional, contemperary, emerging, etc…, does it have the best programs, does it have a worship band that looks like an MTV music video? What does it have to offer me! It’s all about my comfort… by the way could you pick up my cross and carry it too… THanks!

So sarcastic I know- but so true.
If we really want to see what we mentioned above happen- it is going to take a radical transformation in the way we do church and function as the church.
I am sorry to say this but, more parking, bigger worship centers, more programs, even “more money” doesn’t equal more disciples. Most church growth is transfer growth- people hopping around from church to church. The church members need to be equipped and sent out into their communities to do the work we are all called to do- which is share the gospel and make disciples.
Man I’m fired up today. Sorry,
Beth

Bryan,

Great post! Great questions! The answer to each question is, I think, “God would glorified, believers would be edified, and people would be served.”

Of course, our organizations would suffer…

So, what is more important?

-Alan

Beth, I am right there with you! Let’s get down to the basics. Jesus commissioned us to Go, make disciples, and baptize them, teaching all that He had commanded them. What did He command them? The Gospel of the Kingdom! (As Bryan posted about yesterday) The Sermon on the mount which can only be lived out of Christ! And many other things that reveal who He is and how to live out of Him. He only did what His Father told Him to and we are to submit to His Lordship as He submitted to the Father’s Lordship.
Please stay fired up! Your words are true and I pray Christians across the land will be living them out soon.

Bryan, I’ve been reading your blog lately and have often read your comments on my pastor’s blog, downshoredrift.com. Your passion for seeing the church serve the community inspires me. Our church has adopted the same philosophy. We are working to build a building for much needed classroom space, but we went to the community and asked them what they wanted. The result is that it will be a multi- use facility for recreation and events in the neighborhood. Oh that God would make us good stewards of our time and money to use for others and not only for ourselves. Good post.

You may say I’m a dreamer
but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
and the world will live as one

These words were vain wishes that have not been fulfilled. Your words are a promise backed by the true King who is working to make them happen. Around the world God is raising up the true Church. I hope we can all take the words of your post and see them come to life in our own lives and communities. SDG.

Alan,

(I know you know this) The good news is, as Beth passionately proclaims above, that the church isn’t an organization! And, wouldn’t it be an incredible testimony to the King of Kings if the communities we live in turned more to the Church for needs than they did to private donors (“gods” if you will) or to the god of government? And, if wealthy Christians, instead of gaining glory for themselves through private donations to private charities that don’t give the glory to God, gave to their churches who simply passed it through to serve the Kingdom.

Here’s a concern… we need Church leaders who are listening for God’s direction. And I’m not talking about just doing good things because it says to do so in the Word of God; I’m talking about humbly submitting to God, knowing He knows what He wants to do and asking Him to reveal it to us specifically.

Laura,

You have a leader who understands his local flock isn’t his, but God’s and he is submitting himself and each of you to follow God’s direction for the good of the Kingdom. I love Alan Cross’s heart and passion!

He has shared with me some of the things they have done with the “church budget” and it truly was a blessing to me. In fact, Alan even sent us a financial blessing on our way. Thank you very much for that! And, of course, thank God, because God laid that upon Alan’s heart.

Your testimony is fantastic and represents a part of moving to a Kingdom mindset. And, we all need to remember that we are Sons and Daughters of the King! God doesn’t love us because of what we do, but because of who we are, chosen (adopted) children.

Beth and Marie!!! Go, go, go! Go waiting expectantly upon God! Don’t you lvoe how God has all these ironic binary truths about himself?

he is a consuming fire and is the living water!

He is the lion and the lamb!

He is Father and the King!

Don’t let anything quench the Spirit’s fire in you! Refresh yourself in the Living Water! May God ignite in you a passion for Himself and a compassion for people.

Strider,

You got it.

To the King!

Finally, finally, finally….

We have thought this way for a long time, and it is so good to see others thinking this way as well. And now we’ve found a newborn place here, where I think these thoughts will be welcome.

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