Saturday, November 21, 2009
PRE zent... ALMS!
It's that time of year again -- time for Bellevue's annual Love Offering Sunday. What started in 1934 as a means for the church to pay off their building debt has turned into an all-out dog and pony show during which all present in the worship service on Love Offering Sunday march to the front of the auditorium and parade past large boxes into which they drop their offering envelopes. Last year envelopes were available near each seat, and guests were encouraged to get into line and drop empty envelopes into the boxes so people wouldn't be stepping over each other and no one would feel left out. Of course, if a guest felt led to put a little something inside the envelope, I'm sure no one would have objected.
It's difficult to believe it's been four years since this simple one-page announcement was made regarding the 2005 Love Offering. The prayer chapel, a colossal waste of money when a portion of the existing facilities which sit unused 6 1/2 days a week could have simply been designated as a prayer room, was never built. Many who gave to the 2005 offering have been asking for the past four years what happened to those plans. (Remember the proposed labyrinth?) Now we're told that money, which was reportedly set aside in a separate account, will be plowed into the "Vision 2010" plan which includes... taa daa... designating a portion of the existing facilities as a prayer room.
This year they've been much less specific as to what the love offering is for. Steve Gaines writes:
"This year's Love Offering is the first step in a multi-year effort to develop our people, ministries, and programs, and, when necessary, to enhance our facilities for the purpose of fulfilling our mission. Will we do everything we've planned? Probably not, because situations and opportunities will likely change in the coming years and we will adjust our plans accordingly."
This way they can pretty much use the money however they wish.
Speaking of 2005, my, how things have changed since this photo was taken!
With giving down significantly in the past couple of years and according to one source, "the money pit is awfully shallow," this year they've pulled out all the stops. From reminders in the weekly bulletin for the past month to large postcards and a full-color, multi-page mailout printed on slick, heavyweight cardstock (what did it cost to design, print, and mail that to every family in the church?) to a video to "Love Offering Reminders" e-mailed to people who haven't set foot in Bellevue in years to automated phone calls from Brother Steve -- it's been an all-out media blitz. Here is the full brochure. The whole "Vision 2010" thing will be discussed in a future article.
This quote is printed in this week's bulletin:
"Lines that Linger" by Rev. Don Miller
"The church needs faithful members who are regular attenders, faithful members who know how to pray and do it, faithful members who bring others with them, faithful members who love God more than the world, and faithful members who know the tithe is the Lord's and give it."
And this from page 18 of the brochure:
The Love Offering is primarily a love and thank offering to our Lord Jesus Christ who gave the ultimate love gift -- Himself -- and who loves us with a priceless love. As Bro. Steve has said, our gifts to the Love Offering are not tithes, but are gifts above and beyond our tithe. As you determine how much to give, prayerfully consider the following:
1. God knows the need.
2. God knows how much of the need He wants to meet through you.
3. What God desires to do through you He will provide to you.
4. When we give obediently as God has guided and provided, He gets the glory and we get the blessing!
The need this year is truly God-sized and will require us to increase our faith to reach our goals. Please prayerfully consider what God wants you to give, and obediently and sacrificially give as God directs you.
Do people really need to be goaded like this to give? After all, the Bible says, "God loveth a cheerful giver," not an intimidated giver.
There have been good articles on the subject of "tithing" on the FBC Jax Watchdog blog and The Wartburg Watch this week, and they and their readers have already covered the subject in much more depth than I ever could. So without further ado:
A Look at the Doctrine of Storehouse Tithing
Ronnie and Johnny: Doggone It, How Can We Spread the Gospel If the Sheep Don't Tithe?
Rethinking the Tithe: Part 1
Rethinking the Tithe: Part 2