Musings, Nits, and Praises: A Book That Steps on Toes, Mine Included

Musings, Nits, and Praises

A farrago of all things deemed blog-worthy by a music-loving, poetry-writing, humor-seeking English teacher


A Book That Steps on Toes, Mine Included

Here's a link to Ron Sider's review of a book I feel compelled to check out: Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2008/006/5.11.html


Two of the most salient excerpts from the review follow:

Chapter 1 hits the reader like a ton of bricks, spelling out in detail what American Christians could accomplish if they would tithe. If just the "committed Christians" (defined as those who attend church at least a few times a month or profess to be "strong" or "very strong" Christians) would tithe, there would be an extra 46 billion dollars a year available for kingdom work. To make that figure more concrete, the authors suggest dozens of different things that $46 billion would fund each year: for example, 150,000 new indigenous missionaries; 50,000 additional theological students in the developing world; 5 million more micro loans to poor entrepreneurs; the food, clothing and shelter for all 6,500,000 current refugees in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East; all the money for a global campaign to prevent and treat malaria; resources to sponsor 20 million needy children worldwide. Their conclusion is surely right: "Reasonably generous financial giving of ordinary American Christians would generate staggering amounts of money that could literally change the world."

In their concluding chapter, the authors summarize their findings. They think there are five primary reasons for the fact that "the wealthiest national body of Christian believers at any time in all of church history end up spending most of their money on themselves." The most important is our society's "institutionalized mass consumerism." The second is the failure of pastors to deal with the issue. The third is that many Christians seem to be confused about the meanings, expectations, and purposes of faithful Christian giving. Fourth, some have distrust about whether their donations will be used wisely. Finally, the near total privatization of the topic means that almost no American Christians discuss their giving with anyone else.

4 Responses to “A Book That Steps on Toes, Mine Included”

  1. # Blogger Steve

    Churches in America spend so much money on themselves. The church sometimes is a kind of country club. The money goes to the physical plant that includes gyms and day care centers, hang gliding and rock climbing ministries, etc. And while the outreach efforts overseas are laudable, to some extent the goal is to get them to join our club rather than to give them tools and helps they might need.  

  2. # Blogger Doug P. Baker

    Ron Sider is an absolutely right on!

    And I'm with Steve. I've been discouraged with my church ever since a few years ago we built a new building (further from town, not nearer to where it is needed) complete with a gym, etc. I can't say that we aren't using it, but the amount of money and debt that we poured into it are ridiculous.

    Since then, what money I give goes where I give it, but not into the church coffers.

    So while I agree with Sider, and it sounds like a agree with that book, that we are a stingy American church, I would say that part of the problem is not individual giving but church allocation of funds.  

  3. # Blogger Jason

    I agree. I, too, attend a church that has a rather expensive building. We open the building to the community, but I'd like to see us do more in that regard. Of course, ideally if people felt like we had to have a central meeting place, we'd just rent some place cheap and use the tons of money we'd save on furthering our social justice programs and other means of serving people. Unfortunately, I don't foresee us doing that anytime soon.  

  4. # Blogger Doug P. Baker

    I know. Harrumph!

    Before we built our new building the pastor spent about three months on a "Giving Campaign." Actually it was a hounding-the-money-out-of-them campaign. I can't see him doing that for anything other than a building for ourselves, although the same amount of money could have built a couple of high quality drinking water treatment plants that could have served thousands of people.  

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