Buying your audience into your faith community.

So this is a bit of a different type of article than what we normally share here. And I am not even going to be referencing the whole article that Shane Blackshear crafted under the topic of ‘3 Ways to know that you might have made Evangelism an Idol’ although it is specifically his first of the three points that I am wanting us to dig a bit deeper into:   1. Evangelism is the end that justify the means. Shane writes, ‘Once while at a collegiate conference the worship session began and with that came lasers and smoke. My friend standing next to me leaned over and said “How did the early church worship without lasers and smoke?!” Good question. If you ask people from churches with this type worship model about why they spend money on things like lasers, fog machines, and state of the art stage lighting, many will point to evangelism and one way or another. Many have mission statements that they can point to that say they exist to attract people to Christ, therefor if a professional rock show is what it takes, so be it. Evangelistic opportunities have become the spiritual tax write off of evangelicals. Have an event, any event, present “the Gospel” at said event, and turn any trip to Six Flags...

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Blessed are the rich, for we make them so.

I found an article I read this week titled ‘Private Gain to a Few Trumps Public Good for the Many’ quite interesting  and thought-provoking. It deals with the disparity between rich and poor and also highlights some of the journey and process as to how and why the rift was widened in such a way: ‘We’re losing public goods available to all, supported by the tax payments of all and especially the better-off. In its place we have private goods available to the very rich, supported by the rest of us.’ That is the conclusion Robert Reich reached at the end of his piece and it was very enlightening to see how he thought it all happened: Since the late 1970s, almost all the gains from growth have gone to the top. But as the upper-middle class and the rich began shifting to private institutions, they withdrew political support for public ones.  Education, for example, was less a personal investment than a public good — improving the entire community and ultimately the nation. But in a post-Cold War America distended by global capital, distorted by concentrated income and wealth, undermined by unlimited campaign donations, and rocked by a wave of new immigrants easily cast by demagogues as “them,” the notion of the public good has faded. The article is...

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Put your money where your mouth, um vision, is.

Mark Scandrette is a good friend of ours at Common Change, so much so that he added a link to our non-profit collaborative giving tool at the end of his latest book ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on What Matters Most’ as what we help people do falls in line with a lot of what he is suggesting. In this article by Tony Jones, Tony compares him to an emergent version of Dave Ramsey, starting with a nail-on-the-head description of Mark: ‘Mark is an uncommonly honest person. In fact, chances are that within 5 minutes of a conversation, Mark will ask you something rather intimate about one of two little-discussed topics: sex or money. And he won’t break eye contact until you answer him.’ And continuing with a description of how Mark is open and candid about both of those topics in his own life. I had a walk through part of San Francisco with Mark just the other day and the majority of our conversation focused on money and how we can use it in our lives rather than the other way around. It is something he has lived out and so he definitely has a lot to offer in terms of speaking wisdom into other peoples’ lives. The article is a simple overview look at the book...

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Of helicopter blades and korean church plants: how is the church to spend ‘its’ money?

In the left corner we have ‘Korean Southern Baptists’ who according to this article ‘will work to plant 265 more Korean churches in the U.S. within the next five years and increase their Cooperative Program (CP) giving by 250 percent, leaders of the group told Baptist Press at the annual meeting in Houston.’ The purpose of this is to that they can ‘do more work for the Kingdom’ according to ‘newly elected Korean Council President Junsuk “Peter” Hwang’ ‘His goals also include restructuring the group; developing educational curricula written not only in Korean but also from within a Korean context; and developing a network of Korean churches around the world to gather perhaps every five years for global celebration, inspiration and motivation.’ Meanwhile in the right corner, according to this article,  we have ‘Bishop, I.V. Hilliard, a Texas megachurch pastor, whose ‘Aviation Department’ advised him that upgrading the blades on his helicopter would save his church $50,000, recently caused an uproar for asking his congregation to help finance the upgrade with $52 ‘favor seeds.” To gain support for this pressing need, the Bishop recently reportedly ‘sent out a controversial newsletter to his “Friends in Jesus” list, telling them that if they sow a $52 transportation seed toward the upgrade they would receive “breakthrough favor” within 52 days or 52 weeks.’ The issues related to...

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The McBudget, and our distance from poverty

As you have quite well already heard, in response to the recent protests by their workers in favor of a higher wage McDonald’s released a “Practical Money Skills: Budget Journal” for use by their employees. The budget journal has the intended purpose of educating their employees on how to live within the means provided by a normal fast food worker’s wage, and no doubt was also intended to dampen support for the protests by showing that doing so was possible. Despite what side of the political spectrum commentators have been on regarding the protests, one reaction to the budget has been nearly unanimous: it is ridiculously unrealistic. As just some examples – the income side of the equation assumes two jobs that either a) earn significantly more than fast food workers make or b) requires a 70 hour work week, while the expenses side assumes a $20 a month health insurance plan and doesn’t even contain categories for food, clothing, childcare and others. Numerous groups and individuals have pointed out the problem with the budget, from Time magazine to Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald, with the latter calling the sample budget “an insult to those living in poverty.” As I reflect on the issues of poverty, one thing that I am constantly reminded of is the distance...

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