Friday, December 6, 2013
Salvation is free... the church is not.
Salvation is free but the church is not. If you want to have a building, there will be mortgage, repair, utility, insurance, and custodial costs. This is not rocket science folks. We as a people have rather high expectations here. We want our buildings to be pleasing to the eye and comfortable on the body and neither is achievable without some financial investment. What does it say to the folks looking to us from the community when we cannot care for our buildings but want them to entrust the care of their souls to this parish or that?
Salvation is free but the church is not. If you want to have a Pastor who does not divide his time between the church and working at Wal-Mart, then there are costs involved here. This is not rocket science folks. We as a people often have unrealistic expectations of our shepherds in Christ and one of them is that the best Pastor is one who works cheap. The Pastor should not live anything below the average economic status of a family in the parish. By this standard most Pastors are underpaid. It is to the parish's advantage if they pay a Pastor well enough so that he does not have be preoccupied with finding the next dime to care for his family.
Salvation is free but the church is not. If you want to have a Sunday school or a youth group or catechetical tools or Bible study resources or print media for outreach or a host of other items considered "essential" to the way we do church, somebody is going to have to pay for them. No, a congregation does not need to be on the cutting edge of technology but you need decent tools for the task or it will cost you more in man hours. If you want something that will be credible and not embarrass you as people in the pew, provide the financial resources to make it happen. What good does it do to nickel and dime the parish to death only to be ashamed or embarrassed when you bring a visitor or guest?
Salvation is free but the church is not. If you care enough to cover your own creature comforts in the building, have a Pastor available to provide care for the soul for you and your family, and have the tools for the parish programs and educational ministries, why would you forget the church beyond your parish? Charity begins at home is the lie we tell ourselves to justify being selfish and unconcerned about the church beyond our local borders. Support the Synod, District, and adopt a mission or two. The rewards are far richer than the financial cost.
Salvation is free but the church is not. We are investing in the Kingdom and the work of the Kingdom. It is not extraneous work or optional frills but the basic work of providing a worship home, teaching the people the Word of the Lord, providing pastoral care to the assembly and individuals, and making sure the mission of the church goes forth here and throughout the world. It is going to cost you something. Funny, though, how much we will drop at our favorite restaurant, in the mall, at Amazon online, or to care for the house and household at home... but how cheap we can be when it comes to the church! What does it say when the tithe required by the law got us to own up to what was required but our grateful faith cannot get beyond a percent or two of our after tax income?
If we just did it, we wouldn't have to talk about it so often. If we just did it, we could focus our attention on more noble causes. If we just did it, the work of the Lord would not have to beg, cajole, or guilt us into doing what should come cheerfully, willingly, and generously. Salvation is free but the church is not. Count up the number of times money or giving is mentioned in Scripture and you will understand why we are in the mess we are in right now.