This isn’t exactly news. But it is a statistical fact:
– Tithers make up only 10-25 percent of a normal congregation.
– Only 5 percent of the U.S. tithes, with 80 percent of Americans only giving 2 percent of their income.
– Christians are only giving at 2.5 percent per capita, while during the Great Depression they gave at a 3.3 percent rate.
Numbers like that can invoke a lot of guilt, which isn’t really the point. The larger point is what would happen if believers were to increase their giving to a minimum of, let’s say, 10 percent. There would be an additional $165 billion for churches to use and distribute.
My hunch is that, pacifist or not, if you engage in spiritual formation exercises with Jesus and you devote some of the spaces of your faith to growing in the “fruit” or virtue of peace, that you will find your impulses toward self-defense begin to become less impulsive. Perhaps you won’t be a pacifist in theory, but when tested, could it be said of you that you didn’t retaliate against your enemy? I think this is more likely than we might think.
It is when we are at our weakest that the strength of the Lord is best perfected. Jesus is specifically looking for the poor in spirit in order to bless them with the riches of his grace. And since this is true, it stands to reason that the poorer our spirit becomes, the more of his riches we can know. This is especially comforting to know when you are at the end of your rope.
The 10 items we discuss are:
- Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service.
- Unfriendly church members.
- Unsafe and unclean children’s area.
- No place to get information.
- Bad church website.
- Poor signage.
- Insider church language.
- Boring or bad service.
- Members telling guests that they were in their seat or pew.
- Dirty facilities.
Abraham Heschel, the twentieth-century Jewish rabbi and theologian, said, “What we need more than anything else today is not textbooks, but text people.” Become a “text people.” And when you need help along the way, find other fathers and mothers in the church who have listened to God and embodied his ways and are down the road a little further than you. They can help.
In an effort to simplify my reporting of the results, I put the responses into several categories. I have to say, I was more encouraged than not. Sure, we got the usual complaints about other people and the worship services. But I was surprised to see how many respondents said the greatest change needed to be themselves. Pastors said it. Elders said it. Deacons said it. Other laypersons said it. That response, among others, greatly encouraged me.
Let me cut to the chase. I am leaving Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram in the next few weeks for at least two years. I am less than two years away from a big milestone birthday and I need a break for several reasons. Quite possibly, I may leave forever. Here are my three top reasons (with a few more added later in the blog)
In CompuServe’s FAQs, they clearly state that “The GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), pronounced “JIF,” was designed by CompuServe and the official specification released in June of 1987.”