[Warning: Theology post.]
We picked up our box of offering envelopes from church last week. The very first thing I did was go through it and separate all the tares from the wheat. There were the 52 weekly offering envelopes, and those I left in (because our church hasn't heard of EFT yet, I've asked - personally I wish they had). What I then pulled out to be consumed by fire consisted of:
- 12 Building Fund envelopes
- 6 Mission Offering envelopes
denomination elidedHigh School envelopes
denomination elidedmagazine subscription envelope
denomination elidedradio outreach envelope
denomination elidedcharity envelope
- 5 Lenten Offering envelopes
- 1 Ash Wednesday Offering envelope
- 1 Maundy Thursday Offering envelope
- 1 Good Friday Offering envelope
- 1 Thanksgiving Offering envelope
- 3 Advent Offering envelopes
- 1 Christmas Eve Offering envelope
- 1 Christmas Offering envelope
- 1 New Year's Eve Offering envelope
I guess my real complaint is twofold. First, I consider money I give to the church, i.e., "my" church - the building and its mortgage, the paid staff, the parochial school assistance, the denomination and oh, yeah, somewhere less than 4% to actual outreach, mission and whatnot - should already be allocated to things like mission and the building. I shouldn't have to then add a special envelope in the plate just to "make sure" they're doing something for missionary work. When I am paid by my employer they don't put part of it into a special envelope marked "housing fund" and pin it to my sweater on my way home to make sure I pay my mortgage. They just expect me to take care of that. So why should I put extra money every month into a "building fund", whatever the fuck that means?
Barna studies consistently show Christians outgive non-Christians. Of course we do, we're conditioned to it. But those same studies show Christians come nowhere near tithing. Some of that is pure selfishness (it certainly is on my part). Some of it is giving to other charities, and not necessarily faith-based ones (gasp!). And some of it, I think, is from getting subtle and not-so-subtle hands-thrust-out messages from our church every four days. Sort of like the kids' school's "fun fair" with its "mandatory volunteers" (which is happening again this spring - grrr).
"Sorry. I gave at the office."
It's not fair, it's not accurate, and Bono himself shuffles around asking for cash for various causes now days, but I'll close with it, anyway:
"Well the God I believe in isn't short of cash, mister!"
- U2, Bullet the Blue Sky