There are only two things in life: money and love. Right now, the church is hurting on both accounts. As previously discussed, the role of women in the church and what some perceive as the feminist neuterization of male and female roles which results in socialist jargon passing for sermons, empties seats.
It's all love, all the time in churches but what does love mean? Are there any expectations to demonstrate that love?
That brings us to the other immutable issue: money. Tithing has become an issue in the modern church. People are reading their bibles and rejecting the commonly accepted notion that tithing is required. The Wall Street Journal reports this phenomenon (worth reading the whole article):
The anti-tithing movement has found support in some unlikely places: theologically conservative divinity schools and church pulpits. At Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., professor Andreas Kostenberger challenges tithing in classes on the New Testament. He teaches that if you add up all taxes paid by the ancient Israelites, they exceed 10%, and that in the New Testament there's no percentage rule. He says pastors perpetuate the 10% figure out of "pragmatism, tradition and ignorance, quite frankly."Matthew 6:21 says it all regarding giving:
People don't have their heart or treasure in the church these days. And they are suspicious of the way their churches are spending money. And in many cases, churches spend selfishly.
For six years, while avoiding any churches because the ones I had contact with seemed filled to the brim with hypocrisy and anything but love, we gave charitably other places. Many charities were still ministries--charities with Christian foundations--but they offered concrete, tangible ministry.
But I can't help but wonder if the church isn't just a reflection of the people attending there. Consumed with their own busy lives, many church-goers don't take time for church, or more importantly, God. Going to church is a way of giving time (these days, a much more precious commodity) to worship and learn and to be filled up spiritually. People are doing this less than they used to, too.
So while some church goers complain about the church's priorities and selfishness, the same could be said for the members themselves.
If a person has adequate funds, 10% giving back doesn't seem too much. It seems like a basic contribution not unlike the minimum set aside for retirement.
Ultimately, churches reap what they sow. The Catholic Church has hurt herself, I'm guessing for a generation at least, in the United States because of their scandals. Church pastors are as prone to sin like porn as the rest of the populace. And then there are the church leaders who live secret lives. All these scandals HAVE made a difference in how people, men especially, view the church.
Distrust in authority makes it seem almost unbelievable that a pastor or church board would do this when a member wonders about tithing:
When the leaders are corrupt or lazy or sinful, or people may fear them to be, no amount of scriptural brow-beating will get them to give to the church.
When he objected to his church's instructions to tithe, Kirk Cesaretti took it up with the church leaders. In response, he received a letter from the pastor and elders of Hydesville Community Church in Hydesville, Calif. "At this time, we believe your concerns do not warrant any change in our church policy or positions," the letter read.
The letter closed with a verse from Hebrews 13:17: "Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls; as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you."
The pastors and church leadership would do well to read Malachi 2. Tithing is a secondary problem.