Thoughts to Ponder are my musings regarding community, things of the Spirit, and living as a Christ-follower. I don't offer the words of a professional or an expert; just a fellow traveler and explorer. Please don't take my musings more serious than I do. I've discovered a long time ago that I do not hold the keys of knowledge or wisdom. If I did, I misplaced them somewhere...typical.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Stopping Church Theft

by Dustin Bagby
The Evergreen Community

(Darryl's note: When I came across this article it really hit hard! Mr. Bagby gives a very timely bit of advice to all of us!)

Church theft is an epidemic that has been plaguing the Church for decades. You may think I’m making reference to the occasional theft of the church offering. But the theft I’m more familiar with is a different kind of robbery that happens week after week all across the world. This is a heist that I personally been a part of!

We have a unique situation at Evergreen where we have an environment where people are able to hang out in a non-threatening setting, hear about Jesus and heal from the pains of life. There is nothing wrong with taking that time to get your bearings straight and take the time to hear from and wrestle with God. But at some point there comes a time to step out to serve with and in the community.

The problem is: it is easy to get comfortable in enjoying what everyone else brings to the community and never take the next step of contributing yourself. This is church theft! You will never see a church thief signed up to help set up, teach children, tear-down, serve the homeless, etc...I don’t want to rob others in the community of what I could offer through my unique gifts and abilities and I don’t want you to rob others of all you could offer.

I’ve heard people say several times in the last 10 years as they search for a church, “I just want to find a place where I can be fed.” I think we’ve all been in a place temporarily where we do just need to receive from the community and have very little to give back. But sometimes when people say this, what they mean is that they are there to mine the goods out of the church and have little desire to ever give back to the community. I think this misunderstanding happens when we confuse the means by which one grows. It is not simply by sitting back and consuming expository sermons and listening to uplifting music (although it is very easy to get that idea from the contemporary church). Growth happens through actively serving others and through sacrificial investment in the lives of those in the community. When we rob the church, we are ultimately robbing ourselves as well.

The times that I have caught myself saying, “I’m just not getting anything out of church”, I can now look back and realize that it is because I didn’t put that much into the church. I didn’t give my time, my money, my energy, my emotional investment to the people in the community and I suffered just as much as they did.

Don’t rob the church! Make the investment into the community by actively serving and participating. Be a part of the body, give back to the community, and you will receive more than you could imagine.

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