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."

Subtle, huh?

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


32yrs@bbc said...

1. God knows the need.
I definitely believe in the tithe.
I believe it is scriptural and it is a blessing to give back to the Lord a tenth of what He has blessed us with, and even more as we are able.

However, the Lord tells us we are to be wise stewards of our resources. And God knows every need the church has and will supply that need thru His people. But there is a big difference in needs and wants. That's where discernment must come in. No one should be pressured to give anything out of guilt when they know the wants are not needs.

drstevej said...

Blessed be the tithe that buys.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Ha ha. Good one.

32yrs@bbc said...

NASS, to you and your family, and to those who write on this blog, I pray that you have a blessed Thanksgiving. May we all remember and rehearse God's faithfulness to us in both the good times and the not-so-good times. He that was faithful in the past, will be faithful in these present, precarious days and in the unknown future that lies before us.

"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8)

Junkster said...

Blessed be the tithe that buys
The pastor’s SUV
Our ten percent of income’s why
He has a new TV

Before we pay our debts
We give our ten percent
Thus we ensure the pastor’s set
Though we have not a cent

We make sure that our church
Has carpet that is new
Though we be left within the lurch
The church has padded pews

Church buildings don’t come free
So tithing is our due
It covers Pastor’s salary
And Pastor’s family’s, too.

Our staff we also pay
From tithes and offerings
Their perks and paid vacation days
And various other things

And when the widow’s poor
And when the orphan cries
We say that we can help no more
Because we've paid our tithes

New BBC Open Forum said...

That was beautiful, junk. Brought a tear to my eye. Did you pen that yourself?

New BBC Open Forum said...

One man's opinion.

Lydia said...

Anybody read a bio of Luther? This sounds a lot like selling indulgences...If you are a real Christian you "tithe" to US. If you tithe to US you will stay out of hell...

Problem is, there is NO tithe in the New Covenant. Just cheerful giving to other brothers and sisters in need and to send out others to spread the Gospel. Not to pay for big buildings and big salaries.

And Luther was angry because the Bishops were getting rich offthem when the money was supposed to be going to the Pope to build St. Peters.

Well, you already have a St. Peters for Pope Steve so what are the indulgences at BBC paying for besides Steves big salary?

Junkster said...

Can't you tell? I used "Pastor" as if a name just for you, and "Pastor's family" just for the WatchDog. :)

New BBC Open Forum said...

Yes, I noticed that.

Dr. Bill Loney said...

Junk...simply...cockel warming.

And it has been duly noted that my heart cockels is normally cold. Cept after a helping of spicy tripe casserole, then my cockels is burnin up a storm.

Been Redeemed said...

When we care more about the donor than the donation, donations tend to follow....

New BBC Open Forum said...

Anyone know what the commotion with the woman was near the end of the 11:11 service this morning?

New BBC Open Forum said...

Here's another one. Yawn.

Channel 3 had a video which isn't yet up in which one parishioner said the music "minister" just needs our prayers, and another one said he "just made a mistake." Blech. The pastor is keeping him on staff. Anyone think he'll be held accountable?

New BBC Open Forum said...

S.N.A.P. Press Release

TN Lizzie said...

Hmmm ~ The Commercial Appeal seems to have made some serious errors in their story. Here is an important comment from the first of NBBCOF's linkc:
• November 30, 2009
• 8:04 a.m.

ronrol#401851 writes:
Initially I refrained from making public comments about this sitiuation. Before I go further, I will identify myself, I am the pastor of the church that the two individuals attended. I regret with all of my heart what has happened. However, to critizie the church, the young lady and the young man does not fix nor eliminate what took place. As a point of clarification, he was not the Minister of Music. As a pastor, you can't force people to live by biblical or legal standards regardless of how you teach or preach the Word of God. Both individuals asked to be forgiven and I extended the forgiveness to both as an act of God's love. Forgiveness does not eradicate the legal/criminal aspect; this was conveyed to both individuals. I did not condone what was done, neither did I act oblivious to such an immoral act. The emotional pain that this has caused to both individuals due to their poor choice is undescribeable. It was and remains my intent to extend to them the opportunity to learn from their misstake and move forward in life. I am a strong adovocate of the legal system and I realize that there are consequences for breaking the law. However, that does not negate my committment to extend God's love. It is my prayer that those involved directly and indirectly via comments do not give up on the Lord's holy church. You will not find a perfect church, but you can find a perfect God. Forgiveness is not predicated upon how I may feel personally, its based upon the Word of God. I did not respond to the media in an attempt to respect the families and not hold a trial in the courtroom of public opinion. As a pastor, I am deeply sadden and regret what has happened. Yet, I am determined to continue to express and extend the love of God as a Christian. You have every right to question the legal, spiritual, and moral ascept of this situation, however when it is said and done, the legal system and God will be the final judge. I (the church as well) was not aware of what had happened until I received a phone call informing me on the day of the incident. Needless to say, I was shocked and disappointed. There are two sides to every story, and then there's the truth. It is not my position to take sides nor ignore this matter. There are repercussions for illegal acts, however it is my prayer that these young individuals can and will learn in life that we are held accountable for our actions. My comments are not intended to change your mind, because if your mind is made up, then you have missed my point. Once an individual's mind is made up, regardless of what you say, they will follow their mind.

"As a point of clarification, he was not the Minister of Music."
- I think this detail makes a big difference in this story.

"As a pastor, you can't force people to live by biblical or legal standards regardless of how you teach or preach the Word of God."
- No, but this pastor is dealing with the situation, not claiming to flounder in uncharted territory.

"Forgiveness does not eradicate the legal/criminal aspect... I did not condone what was done, neither did I act oblivious to such an immoral act."
- This quote would make great wallpaper for Steve's office

Methinks we should pray for this church. We've walked a common road - maybe this part of their story will have a beter ending?!

New BBC Open Forum said...

Hmmm... interesting. If the CA got it wrong, so did all the TV stations.

This is Channel 3's coverage.

TN Lizzie said...

Sorry for my earlier post. I guess the truth was presented. I am just sick over this sin within the church. It may be a lot safer to get saved anywhere except at church! :o(

Do y'all remember Dr. Rogers saying that things were getting gloriously dark? It's even darker now...

Parents of children in Public/Government schools, BRING THEM HOME!!! My DH provides our only income and I homeschool our children, but it is worth it. Especially now!

Have y'all seen this:
Breaking: Obama’s “Safe Schools Czar” Is Promoting Child Porn in the Classroom– Kevin Jennings and the GLSEN Reading List

Note this from the top 3" of the article:
—-Warning on Content—–
Warning: The following material is very explicit.


BkWormGirl said...

Junkster said (or possibly sang)
"And when the widow’s poor
And when the orphan cries
We say that we can help no more
Because we've paid our tithes"

This is the biggest beef I have with all churches. There is NO budget for the widows and orphans. Don't waste your time telling me of good deeds, lofty ambitions, or grand plans while orphans and widows are starving or living in poverty. "whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." (Matthew 25:45. So in my opinion, most churches do nothing for Christ.

Michelle said...

Wow, what a cynical article concerning our Beloved church. This "church" itself, including several of it's members *the TRUE church* have done nothing but be loving, selfless, and generously giving not just to a single mom like me, but to this new community in which I've moved. Seems like the person who wrote this article (and some of it's commenters) questioning in what manner this true church of God spends it's money should maybe become a loving and cheerful giver themselves and perhaps receive the inward joy that keeps one from questioning what sort of manner in which this church spends it's money. God has obviously blessed this church for not only how it spends it's money by taking care of it's own members but the tremendous outreach it has done for the city of Memphis. Who cares if the preacher at Bellevue drives a beautiful SUV... He deserves it. He is a wonderful man with the anointing of God on his life, a man with a servant's heart who has blessed and helped THOUSANDS of needy and less fortunate people, not just here but in other countries as well. I give cheerfully to Bellevue because not only is it obedience to God, but because this church has given cheerfully to me. That's the way the love of God WORKS. Perhaps the author of this article has never experienced this love, and the miracles and blessings from God that come with being a cheerful giver and perhaps is why he/she begrudges those who have and do. That's unfortunate.

Michelle said...

by the way, may I introduce myself? I'm Michelle. Christ-follower, not church follower. Not pastor follower or budget watcher. All I know is that I GIVE, and God provides. What and who is gaining from the rest is really a non-issue to this Christian. Nice to meet you! I'm not so concerned about BBC's billboards, my heart fills with happiness when I see them, just the same as each time I see the crosses. Maybe I haven't been *jaded* yet by all the scandals I'm reading all over your blog this morning, and am (as you put to someone else: "uncontrollably drawn" to your blog?) That comment cracked me up. True True. MUCH needed break from Only because I'm the sort of person (I hope!) who can respect other people's opinions as being "their own" without tearing them down for having their own perspective. The guy next to me in church could sit in the same service as me and have a totally different experience. (maybe it's you BBOF? no, you don't seem to attend the 11:11 or sit in the first ten rows I'd wager, otherwise you wouldn't know or be concerned about the empty balcony, like some) I believe that's because it's a heart condition. For this belief of mine, I'm sure you won't have much to say about MY viewpoint, and that's okay. I do just want to say *BBC cheerleader comment coming* (LOL) Bro. Steve may be an imperfect sinner just like me, but he sure has changed more lives through his example than I have, regardless of the areas he may have erred. (and yes I've read hundreds of articles about Bellevue and Brother Steve online, so I DO know, I'm not just some *starry eyed* new BBC member...But like everyone else, it's my choice to stay or leave Bellevue if I disagree with it's "goings on", which makes me wonder why so many of your posters continue attending if they're so seemingly "unhappy" with the changes, the pastor, the services...etc; I mean, I *think* I've passed by other Baptist churches available for them to attend in Memphis that do not "brag" about loving their city (*which incidentally NOTwhat I think they're trying to do*). I think they want the people of this high crime rate immensely poor city to KNOW that there IS a real church that loves people the way Christ SAID the church should love it's people, and want them to know that anyone is welcome to come and BE loved. I know it's how they treated ME. (and still do). Whether or not you may agree with all it's changes, past, present, future etc; really is irrelevant. I'm sure Brother Steve has many faults (many of which I'm only learning of thanks to your blog), but see...and here it comes again. I believe that people who place authority figures up on high pedestals seem to be the ones who revel in all their failures as well. I can't even IMAGINE the immense pressure or responsibility of being accountable for a huge church like that.... (cont'd)

Michelle said...

(cont'd.....) And in all fairness I don't think you or any of your posters can either. So to criticize the man for doing better some days than others is just plain wrong. He tries to "follow" God, never claimed to BE God (unless you have one of your little links directing me to a clever and readily available article of yours showing me otherwise!) Brother Steve could beat his dog for all I know, but all I care and know and have EXPERIENCED is that the Spirit of GOD speaks through him when he preaches, and has changed THIS girl's life. But again, that's because I am a Christ follower, not a Brother Steve Gaines follower (so please don't criticize my defense of him). And to the person who claims that Bro. Steve is "only kind and friendly to his family etc;" or whatever balony that person said...? I would encourage them to come sit a little closer to the front where some good fellowship goes on after each of the services, as I assure you, nothing more *un*true could be said about this man of God. He has ALWAYS taken the time to talk to me, pray for me, both he and his wife together; I have not always *agreed* with His words or his way (rarely) but you won't hear me slam him for it. Maybe it's just me but I think it's pretty dangerous to criticize and berate, belittle or otherwise slander God's Preacher. (but that's just me?). You're welcome to sit by me...unless you don't like the 11:11service... ;)

gopher said...

" don't seem to attend the 11:11 or sit in the first ten rows I'd wager, otherwise you wouldn't know or be concerned about the empty balcony, like some>>>"

You didn't say exactly where you were sitting but the first ten rows look very empty also. Are you sure your at the right church?

You have a lot of opinions, so you should be warned, that if you question anything at Bellevue you might want to keep them to yourself especially inside Bellevue or you might just find yourself being told

"Smile, Find Another Church"

There are a lot of good people who Steve let go and disrupted their lives because he said the giving was down and there wasn't enough money to keep them on. Next thing you know Bellevue is redoing the platform, purchasing new lighting systems, new monitors for the front and then a new Christmas tree set, churches, bus, etc. etc. etc....
Things are far more important to Steve than individual's and families that have been disrupted. If funds were so low they should have done everything possible to help those individuals remain employed under them and forget buying the additional things to make events more spectacular. What does God care more about ... people or bigger and better performances??

Yes, the sermons may sound good and some of the programs might produce some fruit (if your a fruit counter) but if you knew the background and what goes on behind the scenes, and how people have been treated, you wouldn't feel as "good" as you do right now. On the surface it seems all well and good but it's hard to listen objectively when you know how many individuals have been hurt by this man who stands up there and "acts" so loving and caring. Not true in reality. It's easy to stand in front for a little while after a sermon and interact but it's what happens in everyday life that really counts.

Good Day...


Michelle said...

You seem to know a whole lot about the "behind the scenes" stuff, may I ask, could you possibly be one of those unfortunate people who were let go at some time? If so, I'm sorry your experience was so negative. You just sound rather defensive and bitter in your was almost like the tone of your voice was all huffy and "Hmph. Well if YOU only KNEW, then YOU would....(insert whatever here: leave the church? slander it all over the internet, ad nauseum) I'm not trying to talk down to you by explaining that a perspective is 'one's own view or experience' but you're right, none of those things you've mentioned have happened to me. And until they do (God forbid) I will stand behind and support my pastor. Yes it IS easy for me to "listen objectively" as when I attend Bellevue it is for the purpose of worshiping and hearing from God; I am listening for God to speak to my heart whether it's from Brother Steve or the nice lady next to me that has a kind word that I needed to hear. I'm not sitting there wondering how much this and that costs the church. I suppose if such matters concerned me so greatly, maybe I'd try to join some committee or board perhaps. But since I have only been affected positively by the efforts of this church, no, I don't know that I'll ever feel the need to question it's authority in my life (GOD); in which case it drastically decreases my chances of being told to "find another church". But again, this is an "open" forum, and am only stating my opinion based on MY experience. If you are trying to goad me on with all your railings against this church or my Pastor, (which it sort of sounds like you are based on your need to actually "quote" me), I won't be returning an arguement, only my experience. I am a struggling Christian just the same as every person sitting around me in that sanctuary, and maybe the reason my life has been changed (and continues to be) is because I'm not so busy counting how many empty chairs are surrounding me, but keeping my focus "UP". I'm sorry my positive experience makes you feel the need to try and take that away from me by giving me your "behind the scenes tour of what really goes on" essay, as you are clearly offended that I'm not jumping on your "Burn down Bellevue" opinion bandwagon. I hope you are able to let go of some of that bitterness, as I sense that maybe you might just be a hurt Christian brother being eaten up by unforgiveness or bitterness or something anyway.

BkWormGirl said...

It seems to be an almost inevitable trend. Someone comes to this blog and feels the need to "school" those of us who post here on why we are bitter, unsaved, cynical, judgmental, jaded, having a poor heart condition and sorry at that point Michelle, I quit reading your diatribes of "edification". I am continually amazed that BBC draws in those who like to kick the wounded sheep in the head. And pretend this is the "love of Christ."

No matter what Steve Gaines does to the future, he will NEVER be able to undo the damage that he singlehandedly did to the masses. When Steve Gaines chose to love a child pedophile over thousands of precious children of God in his congregation who had already been abused by such a person the damage was done.

Others have their reasons for why they do or do not like SG. I stand firmly on that one alone. To be clear, there are many more things he has done that I find distasteful and lacking in honor. But that single act separated him from the roll of pastor because he failed to meet the qualifications as outline in scripture, specifically I Timothy 3:1-7. And time has proven he has failed time and time again what is laid out in Titus 1:6-9.

But there I go again, being so unschooled in so many ways, and trying to apply that pesky little thing called "God's word" to the church. What is wrong with me? It must be because I am so cynical??

Michelle said...

I'm not trying to "school" anyone. I never tried to tell anyone WHY they were bitter, cynical, etc; I merely mentioned that that was how the previous commenter came across, and asked if it was true. That's not passing judgment, it's asking for clarification. Just giving my experience at BBC thus far, as I said several times. If I was trying to "school" anyone, I'd be quoting scriptures, budget increase percentages in decrease, attendance numbers, etc; etc; I was under the impression by the description of this blog that it was a 'discussion' forum, it didn't mention that the discussion was solely meant to be amongst BBC haters and only those who agree to agree with the opinion posted above theirs. Sorry for causing you the distress of a positive perspective which, I guess, you consider my trying to be 'edifying'.

gopher said...

Michelle, you really hurt. Here we are, recovering, trying to comfort one another and warn others and along comes Michelle...
...I don't see it .... just get over it, you say:

"...I hope you are able to let go of some of that bitterness, as I sense that maybe you might just be a hurt Christian brother being eaten up by unforgiveness or
bitterness or something anyway"

I am just surprised by your callousness? Isn't your motto:

"...advice not appreciated...unless you ALSO have..." (ie: experience it yourself?)