. of view

Earl Marshall

Month: August 2010

If I had a MILLION dollars . . .

Last week I tweeted the following question, "if someone gave you $10,000 for the purpose of giving it away to a not for profit, would you give it to your church?"  The responses were . . . honest!  Someone said straight out "no".  Another person asked "what do you mean by church?"  Most people suggested that they would give some but not all to their church after a period of prayer.  A few mentioned other places they would give the money other than their church.

I have been thinking much about this question during the month of August because I do think the answer to the question is a sort of litmus test as to the degree to which people who are part of a church believe it is compelling.

I am not suggesting in anyway that the local church is where someone must give their money.  I do believe that there are many not for profits that have a compelling purpose and mission.  What I am wondering is whether people see your, and my, church as one of them.

Pastors, ask yourself the question, if someone gave you $10,000 to give to a not for profit would you give it to your church?  Would you even think of that as a good option?

Some people don't think about giving to the church in this way because they don't view the church like other para-church organizations.  The church is more of a place where a transaction of goods and services takes place for most people.  They give to the church because they are receiving something in return.  Their kids are cared for, they receive good spiritual teaching, they love the coffee that is served on Sunday morning . . . etc.  So when they come into an unaccounted for sum of money they don't think of giving it to the church because they are already up to date in their giving account.  Essentially their membership dues are already paid for.

I am not sure how many people fit into the above but I am absolutely convinced that many fall into the category of not being convinced that the mission and vision of their church is compelling enough for them to give generously, cheerfully and liberally.  Sure many Christians can be compelled to give out of duty or guilt or even wishful/hopeful thinking but I wonder how many when they think of their church they see it as a critical difference maker in their community, a "blessing machine", a "we would be missed if we weren't here" kind of community.  

This is a leadership issue.  I believe it really comes down to, how compelling is your mission and vision?  

What if someone came up to you and said, "Someone gave me $10,000 dollars and I want to give it to the church because I believe that what we are engaged in here is compelling.  We are engaged in our community, lives are being transformed.  We are strategically involved around the world dealing with issues of justice, poverty, introducing families to Jesus Christ.  I can't think of anything more compelling." 


On Mosques and other things religious

I tweeted a question last week asking people to submit how they felt about the potential of a mosque being built close to Ground Zero.  The responses I received were across the board from, "how dare they" to "why not?"  With such an emotionally charged issue it is not surprising that extreme responses will follow.  But there is a whole category of people who aren't really sure how to respond.  My guess is that most people, even followers of Christ, feel conflicted about the whole thing.  I am not always certain as to why that is the case but I am going to take a wild guess and say it has something to do with the tension we feel between prejudice and love, safety and calling, and other paradoxes in our lives. 

When you see the following picture how do you feel?


I find the extreme responses to this request to build a mosque overly simplistic.  While I see in this picture absolute illogical and foolish responses I am too aware of the motivations behind them.  Hatred, prejudice, the need to feel secure, and the longing for safety linger in all of us.  We should not always be proud of these feelings nor should we be surprised. 

God help us to not make the same mistakes our ancestors did.  It's complicated.

Gospel in Life

Just finished reviewing "Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything" an eight session DVD small group based study by Tim Keller and the Redeemer City to City team. This is an excellent worldviewish study that will help the follower of Christ see how the gospel impacts all of life.

The study guide is excellent. There is work to be done ahead of the small group meeting as well as great discussion questions for when the group is together. It was refreshing to see how biblically based and into the Word the study guide is. The videos sessions of Keller teaching are good. They pack in great teaching in 10 minutes per session.

This is an excellent group study for those who are a little more mature in the faith and looking for something that will give more traction to their everyday life and calling in this world.

Gospel in Life

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