Thursday, March 06, 2008

Secrets to Modern Ministry

OK, I admit I'm feeling a little cynical today, but here goes. Let me know if you think I went a little too far.

To encourage people to give to your church, be sure to put their names on a plaque, or a chair, or a brick in the new building. Forget what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:3-4 when he said, “But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” He didn’t really mean that. He really meant: Make sure you get your name on a shiny little gold plate on a wall or a brick so people can feel good about your philanthropy.

Always, always have little blanks to fill in on your church bulletins. Don’t worry, adults won’t feel insulted to have you read them the answers. They enjoyed it in second grade and they'll enjoy it now. Besides, they aren’t really smart enough to come up with their own way of taking notes so it’s much better if you spoon-feed them the answers.


karla said...

I have never "blogged" before, but as a pastor's wife, I felt moved to reply. I know of what you write. I have heard the angry voices on the other end of the line when someone feels they have not been properly acknowledged for a "donation." I am sad for those people. For they do not know the joy of true, Christ-like giving. But I have more and better stories--like the young couple who came to the pastor privately because they came across an extra $40,000 after a business deal. They wanted no recognition and no say in where the money went. They just wanted to give. I have many stories, just like this one, and they move me to joyful giving.
As for the blanks in the bulletin...I have never been at a church where they did that, but I will let our pastor know that it can be insulting to creative thinkers in the pew if he ever considers it. I enjoy your posts, Steve--great thoughts, beautifully shared. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This morning as I waited in line to apply for food stamps after my children went two days without food, I remembered reading this post. I began to cry over the blindness of the body of Christ at times. I was humilated at my tears, because it looked like I was broken over my poverty. But really I was mourning my church family. I am invisible to them. They cannot see me abused and poor and broken, behind all their golden calves.

You did not go too far, but perhaps not far enough.

Steven James said...

Thanks for the powerful and thoughtful comments. I don't know that I can add anything, but I did want to say that Jesus sees the abused and the poor and the broken. And those of us who claim to follow him need to keep following him toward them.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the money thing but I happen to like the note taking guides for one reason only. I have the wonderful gift of a huge imagionation and adhd, the only way i can keep myself from going off into the wild blue yonder is to take notes no mater how much i like the serman. So yea but i can see how they can be rather anoying.
btw i cant spell lol!

Anonymous said...

"Fill in the blanks..." "Rediscovering the wonder..." These are thoughts that have been going around in my mind since you mentioned them at a recent conference. And I could not get them out of my mind as I prepared to preach recently. So, this last month as I prepared to preach out of John and had several "a ha" moments in the text, it was so fun to think of new storytelling/preaching techniques that would help the congregation discover the wonder and "ahaness" of the text instead of simply telling them what I had learned. Thanks for challenging me. As a result I was able to encounter the Lord and I believe the Lord met many people during the message.