Corporate Loving

This topic came up in a group conversation at the potluck after church yesterday. It was probably a response from the following thoughts in my sermon:

"Our goal as a church needs to be that when people in Antwerp are in any sort of financial, emotional, physical, or spiritual need, they think that Antwerp Community Church is the place to have those needs met. We need to be the light that is shining throughout Antwerp. Are we? We might be those types of individuals, but I think there is more to it than just that. Are we that type of church? Are we that way as a community of believers? Do people throughout Antwerp know they can come to us with their needs? Do we have the resources to meet those needs?"

Instead of writing something all over again, I thought I would just share an email I wrote about a year ago to the pastor, who has now left, of our church. After reading it, I realize I was never given an answer to my question and that I am still there although their is very minimal corporate loving.

I hope to hear what you think in the same way I was hoping to hear what other's thought when I originally wrote the following emails. Like always, these thoughts are a work in progress.

I just wanted to share with you my thoughts. I strongly believe that my family needs to become members somewhere. My hope is that this letter explains our hesitation at becoming members at ACC and will help reveal to us what God's will concerning our life is.

First, I want to say that our hesitation has nothing to do with you. You give wonderful and challenging sermons that help us to grow deeper in our faith. The music at the church is excellent and helps us worship God. Our struggle has nothing to do with what happens on Sunday.

However, the subject that makes me hesitant to become a member did come up this Sunday. Maybe the issue isn't as big as I think it is, but it is something I have an increasing passion for and haven't seen happening at ACC. The issue is helping people as often as possible as a church rather than individuals. The subject came up a little bit during our lunch last Monday, and I think you were right in that in a small town like Antwerp their isn't many opportunities to serve phsyically as a church. However, opportunities to serve financially as a church come up much more often. A church has to be designed to adjust to these opportunities, which Bob Nobody’s (I changed the name for the internet’s sake) need is.

Here are my thoughts. I wrote an email to a friend last fall explaining this because we tried as a church in Lansing to focus on giving corporately rather than individually. He didn't grasp it. This is a reproduction of that email. It was written in the context of my last church.


I thought I would write this email explaining my thoughts on the matter we have been discussing a little more precisely with the hopes that if you are right that you would actually take the time out to think out why and convince me.

There is one specific missionary that I have wanted the church to support. I have brought them up to the church twice and both times the church has refused. I would love to support them financially, but I can't do it in good conscience without the church leading the way. I hope you would help me have a good conscience in the matter if I were to do it.

I already explained in one of our conversations my one reason against taking from one's tithe and giving it away as one deems fit. I will clarify it in case I wasn't clear. It seems to be setting one's self up as the leader of a "Church of One" rather than submitting to the whole church in which an individual claims to be a part of. We have set up a structure where everyone can have a say in where the finances are going, so there isn't a heirarchical beauracracy where the leadership makes all the decisions. Everyone is involved. Consequently, this makes it so that any project or person an individual feels we should support can be brought up to the group in a quick and orderly fashion.

If one were to take the approach that they were going to give to whatever ministry they deem fit rather than give through the church, then it seems likely that it would logically result in that person only giving to the church when the church is doing something that fits the individual's set criteria of what is a good ministry. An individual would use his tithe for a greater need outside of the needs that the church deemed important any time he thinks it is appropriate. This he would do without any accountability whatsoever. This would make the individual a person who does not identify with the church but a person who identifies only with the parts of the church he likes. A stance that would make him not a part of the church in spirit; although, others might not know that. He is an individual Christian (if there can be such a thing) rather than part of the body of Christ.

The other reason that came to me as I was praying and seeking out God on this matter - although it could be wrong - is that it seems very selfish of an individual when they take the individual giving stance. They are robbing the one to be blessed of a larger blessing that they could receive if the church were involved. Even in a case where the need could be met by one individual, they are robbing others of an opportunity to be a blessing and receive all the reciprocal blessings from God that come along with it.

I think that is all that is on my mind. If I didn't share, I think I would go crazy. I hope I haven't offended you in any way. I would like to know the truth, and this letter is in hopes that I could come to the truth more fully.


That is the letter I wrote last fall and I think it sums up my feelings today.

I do have one additional thought that has come about from observing the way things work at ACC. If we give as individuals rather than the body, it seems a lot easier to fall prey to pride. "I was the one who helped Bob Nobody” mentality would make the people who gave think they are better Christians than those that didn't. However, if the church as one body helped, then the only entity getting glory is the church. And hopefully the church would give all that glory to God.

Special designated offerings would also fall into this issue. If a church believes an issue is important enough to let their members give to it, why don't they just make it part of the budget. I don't understand why they wouldn't. To me, it just seems like an appeal to people's tendency to not submit to leadership. If the leadership feels money in a church should be spent in a certain way, then by all means that is where the money should be spent. They are the ones that, hopefully, through prayer and fasting have been placed in the leadership by God.

During our brief conversation yesterday after your sermon, you mentioned that the church would help with Bob Nobody. However, you said we might not give all of the $125/month needed. I don't understand why we wouldn't. As a church, we are his family. Should we expect people that aren't his family to help? Or do we want the financial burden to be placed on individual members of the church rather than the church as a whole? I think our church should take it on ourselves and not expect individuals, even if they are within the church, to do the job the church was called to do.

I am just expressing things that I am uncomfortable with. I want to be honest about the reason we haven't become members because I am beginning to feel more and more like we should become members somewhere. I don't like doing Christianity alone.

I trust you and respect you spiritually; however, I can't in good conscience become a member to a church as long as things that I feel are destructive to being of one mind, body, and spirit are the norm. Maybe I'm making a mountain out of an anthill, but it is a mountain in my head. If it is an anthill, I hope God, through you possibly, will reveal that to me.

I am not trying to manipulate you into making the church what I feel it should be, but I do want to know what the church wants to be. My family needs to decide if we are going to stay at ACC or not, and this issue seems to be one of the most important elements of a church. If a church isn't going to love together, then all they do is learn together. I think both elements are essential to a healthy church.

I guess I want to know if this is something ACC wants because this is what my family is called to be part of. If not, that is fine. But for our decision making I need to know. God has laid this heavily upon my heart. It is one of the reasons, I feel, he called me to Lansing to start a church. It is what I feel I need to be part of for the rest of my life.

I hope I haven't offended in any way. It was not my intention to. I just want to know what the church wants because we have to decide, through God's leading, where we are to be.


Watch out for the potholes.