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October 26, 2014, 10:46 PM

Let us Get Back to Basics


Back in 1989 when I was president of the Rotary club of St. Thomas II, I made a point as I sat at the dais to make note of those members who were absent. After the meeting, I would make a phone call to those whom I could reach. At that time the club had a membership 102 people with an average attendance of 50/60% 

By the middle of my tenure as president, it rose to 80-90%. That is why I go through the exercise of making note of those regular attendees who worship here but are absent. Sometimes I may know the reason for the absence but I still make a note of them because in the church, there are three distinct things that happen when people don't come to church.

First people disappoint Jesus because Jesus calls us all to fellowship into a community of worshipers. We ought to understand that the church is God's creation and the church is where God's people come together in community to worship.

Second, when people are absent they disappoint their fellow worshipers who look to them for friendship in the congregation. People don't only come to worship but they come to fellowship with one another. The chemistry in this congregation sends positive messages to our visitors, but more important, that loving chemistry creates concern for one another so when you look around and note that someone is absent; you need to reach out to that person or persons and see if there is a need for a pastoral visit or something else. There is a void in the place when that person you are accustomed to offering the peace, a hug, or just to love on, is absent. So if you don’t see your friend please call him/her. On the flip side if you are going to be absent please tell someone; that small act will help strengthen our church family.

Third, because people are not committed to pledging and/or tithing, when they are absent so is their money. Even though the bills continue, the church expenses continue, and the obligations continue. When people don't come to church they rarely connect with the need to double up their giving when they do come.  

I may add that most of the congregation is made up of people who in former times understood the passing of the plate and would either drop something in the plate or bow to the plate if there was nothing to drop in it.

The church calls us to a different level of understanding and commitment. The church is not a man originated plan, it is God’s plan for God’s people coming together in fellowship with one another. God commands us to pray, work, and give.  He ask us to give the first fruits of our labor to God—to give 10% of our money for the furtherance of his work in this part of his vineyard.  I become deeply troubled with that level of disobedience when people fail to comply. People pray to God for job and or financial resources and with God’s help he provides them with the job, but one of the first things people do is bargain with God as to what they are going to give to his work.

Here is what scripture says:

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. (Malachi 3:8-10)

Let us pause for a moment and understand something as simple as breathing. We all need oxygen to survive, but if we only breathe in and don’t breathe out we will still die. As simple as this may sound if we keep all our money and don’t share it we will die spiritually. If we share it marginally, we will live marginally. Full obedience to God is inextricably tied to the fullness of life.

Ten percent of our money is what the Lord demands. Rather than giving 10% people put specific numbers like $20 or $15 or $30 and stick to that whether it represents 4, 5, 6 or 10%. That is not what we are called to do; we are called to give 10% of our money for the work of the church.

 I cannot tell people that they will be blessed or not blessed because of the level of their giving, but this I know, God is faithful, God does not make mistakes, God's truth is at work and if God commands his church to respond to his goodness and faithfulness with our tithes and offering we will bless him with our obedience.

I think that people will grow up spiritually and bless God if they be obedient and move forward to the mission to which God has called us.

Let us get back to basics and call people to come to church.

 

Yours, for the building up of God’s kingdom

 

Fr. Chris                                                                                                                                                                           2014-10-26

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