Thinking Out Loud

October 9, 2017

A Godless Generation That Doesn’t Give; Doesn’t Tithe

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:57 am

At a weekend family gathering, my nephew shocked me somewhat. We were talking about a situation in three neighboring towns where Episcopal (Anglican) churches are losing money at a rather alarming rate and there is some discussion about which which church should ultimately survive, as each feels great emotional attachment to their land and buildings.

I’m not sure what happened, but there was a transition in the conversation and suddenly he said, “I’m part of a Godless generation; we don’t tithe; we don’t give money.”

So I asked him, “What about secular charities?”

“No… Nothing.”

In the car on the three hour drive home, we discussed the implications of this for not only local churches but also charities which depend on the kindness of a donor base. What happens when those builders and boomers die off?

On the positive side, we know that while Episcopal churches are bleeding money and members, there are many megachurches that are packed each week, with the very demographic you might have expected to have given up on church.

Second, I look at North Point Community Church (Andy Stanley) where they’ve “kicked the bucket;” giving up on passing a collection plate/bucket/basket/bag because so many of their members have automated their giving.

(Before moving on, I think any church that struggles with support needs to look carefully at what’s working at North Point in Atlanta.)

I feel sorry for my nephew; he never gets to be part of so many good things that so many great people are doing in so many needy and hurtful parts of this world. He doesn’t get the reports of how the donations helped or read the letters from his Compassion sponsored child. He doesn’t get to share the pain of loss with hurricane victims or be part of facilitating the transplantation of a family in war-torn Syria to a place of peace in Canada or Germany.

Of greater concern of course is that he considers himself Godless. Quite opinionated about which Episcopal churches should close mind you, but involved only to the degree of an armchair quarterback questioning the coach’s decision to run a pass play when it’s fourth and fifteen.

My heart aches for him.

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March 10, 2016

Throwback Thursday

Recent comments by Dr. Russell Moore on how he wants to distance himself from the term Evangelical has sparked various discussions including one on this week’s edition of  The Phil Vischer Podcast about the rise of a new category, Progressive Evangelicals. I was reminded of a very lengthy post we did four years ago when a large controversy was happening over a book written by Rachel Held Evans.

We live in a time when battle lines are being drawn between conservative Christians and progressive Christians. I usually find myself standing somewhere in between, trying to build a bridge between both groups; trying to maintain doctrinal orthodoxy while at the same time recognizing that this ain’t 1949 or 1953 or 1961. It’s 2012 already.The world changed in-between; the world changed last year; the world changed last week.

We need to be mindful of the duality as we interact with the broader culture; as we live between two worlds; as we exist as aliens and strangers, having citizenship in another country; but having to live, eat, breathe, work and play in a world that’s not our permanent home. (See graphic below.)

To that end, we need authors and publishers who will translate our message into the vernacular of the day, or even the hour. We need books and book distribution networks that will illustrate Christian worldview in a way that people can understand.

In the end, the books we create should, at times, make us uncomfortable.

Christians Live in Two Worlds


If you’ve ever visited the blog platform Patheos, you’ve also seen that bloggers are divided into two categories, Evangelical and Progressive Christian (as well as Orthodox and Catholic, but strangely, not Mainline Protestant).  I’ve always felt that Patheos was ahead of the curve on this one in terms of making the distinction long before some had consciously considered the differences.


Another throwback: As I write this one of the many, many debates concerning Donald Trump’s aspirations to be U.S. President surrounds the idea of having someone elected to the position who is not a career politician, not a Washington Beltway insider. Some feel this makes Trump uniquely qualified.

Four years ago, we did a tongue-in-cheek post about a guy who is visiting a church and notices a board vacancy in the bulletin. He makes an argument for the refreshing perspective of someone who is not a congregation insider:

Dear Nominating Committee;

Visiting your church for the first time last Sunday, I noticed an announcement in the bulletin concerning the need for board members and elders for the 2012-2013 year. I am herewith offering my services.

While I realize that the fact I don’t actually attend your church may seem like a drawback at first, I believe that it actually lends itself to something that would be of great benefit to you right now: A fresh perspective.

Think about it — I don’t know any one of you by name, don’t know the history of the church and have no idea what previous issues you’ve wrestled with as a congregation. Furthermore, because I won’t be there on Sundays, I won’t have the bias of being directly impacted by anything I decide to vote for or against. I offer you pure objectivity.

Plus, as I will only be one of ten people voting on major issues, there’s no way I can do anything drastic single-handedly. But at the discussion phase of each agenda item, I can offer my wisdom and experience based on a lifetime of church attendance in a variety of denominations.

Churches need to periodically have some new voices at the table. I am sure that when your people see a completely unrecognizable name on the ballot, they will agree that introducing new faces at the leadership level can’t hurt.

I promise never to miss a board or committee meeting, even if I’m not always around for anything else.

I hope you will give this as much prayerful consideration as I have.

Most sincerely,

March 2, 2011

Wednesday Link List

  • We begin this week with a Sherman’s Lagoon panel from the weekend, and dedicate it to Pete Wilson and the spate of other Christian authors who released a book in 2010 with Plan A or Plan B in the title.
  • And now the link list. But links to what? Was there anything else in the Christian blogosphere this week besides Rob Bell? And to think, most of these were from people who haven’t seen the book. The number keeps growing. Just go to Google Blog Search. Type “Rob Bell” in quotation marks. From the margin on the left side, select the tab that says “past week.”  I’m guessing by the time you read this you’re looking at over 6,000 choices, right?  If you missed this blog yesterday, it’s got quotations from the actual book.
  • And speaking of hell, I had this link as a footnote to yesterday’s post here, but don’t miss John Shore’s video which — posted just a few days before all hell broke loose (couldn’t resist) in the Christian blogosphere — really defines the present controversy.
  • And speaking of books guaranteed to shake things up: Canadian Evangelicals have long embraced radio and television broadcaster Michael Coren as one of their own, though closer observation reveals he has been, for the past few years, a practicisng Roman Catholic. That all goes much more public on April 12 with the release of Why Catholics Are Right.
  • Andrew Jones is on location in Christchurch, New Zealand and gives us the skinny (couldn’t resist) on conditions following the earthquake.  Sample: “Thousands of people went to church on Sunday, many of them gathering at outdoor locations because their own buildings were either down, condemned, unsafe, or just because people felt safe meeting outdoors.”
  • The third short film in the video series BASICS with Francis Chan is releasing this month; the publisher, David C. Cook has posted a 90-second preview at GodTube.
  • Recognize this acronym: OSAS? Maybe you know it better as Once Saved Always Saved. Here’s an Arminian who suggests that the doctrine of eternal security isn’t helpful if it causes people to “abide in sin.”
  • Forget the Boomers. Numerically speaking, the Millennials now rule. Father and son team Thom and Jess Rainer deal with the impact of this on a larger society in a new book from Broadman & Holman. Here’s the book trailer.
  • Are you an aspiring writer? Frank Viola pours out his heart to unpublished authors in a lengthy piece giving 25 specific areas of advice.
  • It’s really not a new story. Another group of worshipers has parted company with their denomination, The Anglican Church of Canada, which of course claims ownership of the land and buildings. But what is the value of all this property to a denomination that is slowly dying?
  • Music clip of the week: Here’s an artist you may have missed out on previously, Jason Gray, who combines great music with insightful lyrics, found this week at the blog I Refuse To Play Church.
  • From there, we move to a musical selection a little less profound. I’m probably the last person in the world to watch this — it’s really old — but if you need a smile today, here’s Ray Stevens’ The Mississippi Squirrel Revival.
  • Here’s a bonus John Shore XtraNormal video, this time featuring Adam and Eve, after “God’s slight overreaction.”  “…I would wring the neck of that stupid snake if only it had one.”  I think John’s found a whole new medium, though purists will argue that his take is a little XtraBiblical.
  • Here’s the link to USAToday and MediaBase which publishes a weekly list of which Christian music songs are getting the most airplay in the U.S. Bookmark it for frequent reference.
  • I suppose if you kick off with Sherman’s Lagoon, you might as well end with Marmaduke and another picture familiar to many of you which was so similar that I wonder who inspired who.  Hint: This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Marm saying his prayers, so it could go either way.

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