are you out there Jesus?

I spent time this morning trying to catch up on mail and office stuff. Kind of clearing through the piles of stuff on the desk before Christmas time, besides I was trying to delay working on my expense report which is long past due. (Bless my treasurers very patient and endearing heart who reads this space…)

Anyway, as I was working through the slog of mail that comes to visit us each christmas time I quickly realized that its the end of the year, and the end of opportunities for people to give in 2009. Needy Christmas appeals, one after another, went through my hands. I did honour them by opening each one and reading their needs and hopes for people to give before the year end.

The stories ran together, one after another. "Giving was modest this year and there was still $400,000 needed towards their $700,000 goal," or "We've to-date received $30,000 of the needed $45,000." There was even an Adopt-a-Pastor scheme where you could give monthly to keep a pastor in Asia, eating and ministering the Gospel.

Good Grief Charlie Brown.

So many opportunities for seminars and conferences, classes and learning opportunities to be invited into your church to help improve things. So many worthy Bible Schools and Retreat Centers, mission organizations and food banks to give your money to. It's amazingly overwhelming. Who deserves the money? Who is doing what God asked of them? And why is everybody asking me for money? If the organization is called into being by God and led by God, should it not be sustained by God?

I know, I know, semantics, I hear ya. But maybe it's not just semantics? Maybe we are called of God to raise up some work and God leads and grows it and when times get tough, instead of looking to see if we are still called of God for this work, and instead of relying on Him for provision, we shift our position to lean on God's people. "Just communicating the need" we say. And it's partially true. But it's also a partial shifting of our dependancy from God to people.

I'm not the guy to say I long for the good old days, but when did the ministry get so professionalized? When did we stop banging on the windows of heaven to provide for what we felt God clearly call us to, and start hiring fundraising agencies and relying on people to provide for God's work, rather than relying on God himself?


Let's face it, some "Christian" organizations should be done. Some churches should close. Some are so broken down with systemic issues and poor past decisions that they should consider closing to be a blessing to the broader community. Some God-started and God initiated works have been coasting for years on what God did at the beginning and they are no longer even aware that God may have left the building a long time ago.

Hey, I know there are internal pressures in these organizations to keep things going. To keep the salaries paid up well so the prominent staff will remain. To give participants a "quality experience" with inviting facilities and activities. I know these things, I'm on a board or two, and there are pressures, subtle and not so subtle.


If you really believe that you are called into a certain ministry, by God himself, then first off do what you can with your financial choices. Lead by example. Then lean into God like you've never leaned before and bang on the windows of heaven so that your creator and sustainer can do what he promised to do.

...as opposed to sending me nice shiny requests for money I mean.

9 comments:

  1. Amen! We have been supported missionaries and pastors off and on for the past 20 years and all we have ever been led to ask for is prayer. That was our particular leading and while we can't speak for anyone else in ministry supported by the Lord, we have been stunned by the provision of God during so many times when no one but him knew we needed it. Even when we went overseas as missionaries God didn't allow us to do much need sharing and yet he provided though all manner of sources and people who simply prayed for us and provided as they were led. Right now it is happening again as we have just ended 3 years with a steady paycheque. God has never failed us. So, while we don't believe everyone is to be led exactly as we have been, it has been our honour to be provided for without asking anyone but God. He is amazing and we are humbled by his grace. He is our security and he never fails us. The fear only lasted for the first year until we got used to what he could do.

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  2. "The fear only lasted for the first year" - Nice comment!

    Randall, almost all our shiny stuff like that goes in the bin without the honour of being opened. I'd had enough some time ago of feeling emotionally blackmailed into supporting whatever cause. It also seems worse than web spammers if you should actually send one of them some money: "hey, we've found a working prospect here - let's see what else we can get out of them"

    I see it quite differently from a couple sent/released to go from their home church, where support is all part of the being sent package.

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  3. This same idea has been on my mind recently.

    I think there is nothing wrong with a ministry letting its supporters know of a need. But in response to all of the need, my husband has a theory about giving that I think suits this all perfectly. It is this "If we all just gave to what we were passionate about, there would be no need".

    So in essence I'm saying, as you are able, give to the people and ministries that really mean something to you...that have helped in your own life and ministry. And if you are doing that, then throw away the others (into the recycle bin of course...LOL) without any guilt.

    Give to what you are passionate about and let those passionate about the other envelopes sustain it. I think this is why the bible says "God loves a cheerful giver". He wants us, not to give aimlessly, but deliberately to things that genuinely stir our hearts and bring us joy to give to.

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  4. Hope you don't mind, but I've 'borrowed' your post (with a link back here) for a forum discussion.

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  5. What is it with submitting expenses claims ? I'm exactly the same as you - I put it off forever.

    But when you do get your expenses done, don't submit the claim in a shiny way, with a pic of a non-smiling pastor.....this post could backfire ;)

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  6. Thanks for your wise words and ways you have of dealing with these things.

    Sometimes I get vexed about what is done in God's good name.

    :)

    Hey Toni if the discussion gets going let me know where it is, I'd like to follow and see where it goes.

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  7. I'm not sure about my wisdom, but the link is here:

    http://www.hemustincrease.com/forum/topics/are-you-out-there-jesus

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  8. Randall, such wise and timely words. Thank you.

    Like Toni, I have copied these words into an email to some folks who would be interested in hearing them. I shall see where it goes from there.

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