I guess the real test isn’t how many read yesterday’s blog (and there were a whole lot), but how many are still here reading today’s. I truly believe that many, many churches can and do please Christ with their response to His call. I will not be one of those who only criticizes without offering a solution or at least one example of one. I truly believe that one way to please Christ with how your church operates is to adopt what I call the “Z” plan for church maintenance and growth. The “Z” is for Zaccheus who was a hated tax collector yet Jesus blessed him and ate in his house. What Zaccheus told Christ he would do would be to give half of everything he had to the poor. Jesus didn’t ask him to give it all and was very pleased with the half Zaccheus offered. I call this the “dollar in/dollar out” method. If your church has a budget of $400,000 a year, then $200,000 a year should be going to feeding the hungry, helping the poor, supporting missions, and other projects that give instead of take. This is really not new. Almost seventy years ago, a very large church in Houston, Texas, wanted a popular preacher to come to their church as senior pastor. He said he would if they would adopt the “dollar in/dollar out” finance plan. They did and still do today, decades after that pastor has passed away. There are other churches who give even more than half to expand the Kingdom and care for those in need. However, there is a church today planning a 90 million dollar building and justifying it by saying that over the next hundred years they will have given over four billion dollars to the poor. Of course, that would mean that they were giving around 48 million dollars a year now, but they’re not. Their financial justification is based on what we would call a pyramid scheme. They’re hoping that in over a hundred years their church would grow to such gigantic proportions that the giving would increase exponentially, but that doesn’t happen, ever, and never has.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favor of air conditioning and heating and paying pastors, but not if the vast majority of the budget goes just for that. If a church wants a new four million dollar organ and is willing to raise eight million so they can spend four on the organ and four to help others—that’s fantastic. It’s even wonderful if that’s the only way to get people to really give generously. Christ didn’t care how Zaccheus got his money, but Christ was pleased that half of it was going to help the poor. Sadly, some churches spend more on sheet music for their choir than they do on missions, or food pantries, or well, you get the idea. Nothing wrong with choirs and music and handbells—if an equivalent amount is going out to those in need of the basics for living and to those in need of hearing about Jesus and being welcomed into His Kingdom. Churches should not exist just to make the members feel comfortable about their lifestyles. I’m not even sure that Jesus would have been pleased with church buildings, but if that was the way that His followers were serving others and loving others and giving half of all they had to the poor—He would be pleased indeed, I think. It’s never been about how much you have or your church has. It’s all about what is done with the blessings you have or your church has. If the church is just spending the vast majority of its money on itself, think for a minute about the parable of the talents. What if the guy who got five talents spent it all on a grand house for himself? You think he would have been treated any differently than the guy who hid his one talent? I don’t think so, and neither do you. It is in service that we find the true joy of Christ and the reward for which we do not have to wait. God bless you, if you are one of those who find your true joy in serving others, in loving others, and if you are able to forgive and to pray for those who hurt you. You will not be welcomed into the Kingdom when you die because you are already in it.