As a Christian who has attended tons of Christian churches, I've heard it over and over again: Give to the local church, pay tithing, donate to the building fund, give out of love for God, out of your faith in Christ, and your love for the church. Give sacrificially, give joyfully, don't be greedy, and don't worry about making ends meet. When you give more, God will give you more in return.
Give, give, give.
The Christian is called to give until they can't give anymore, and even then, they are called to give "sacrificially" and beyond their means, because true Christian giving means being completely selfless. Right?
When churches have materialistic dreams such as a bigger, nicer building, new band equipment, or special lighting and fog machines for the worship service, they need you to give it to them.
When they have bills to pay and salaries to satisfy, they need you to pay them.
When they have summer camps for the kids, conventions, conferences, and other events to put on, they need you to fund them.
And when they want to open businesses like coffee shops and bookstores in the church to make even more money, they need your donations to open them. It's all funded by you, churchgoers. They don't exist without you, and they can't survive without you.
I'm not telling you this to guilt or pressure you into giving more. No way. I'm telling you this to make you think, and consider perhaps doing the opposite.
Think of the government. It's a similar situation in one particular way. They don't exist without the taxpayer just as the local church doesn't exist without the tithe payer. Only when the government takes our money, they use it to provide us with free (taxpayer-funded) services in return. Roads, schools, police officers, firemen, libraries, and so forth.
When the local church (most of them, not all!) takes our money, they use it to open businesses that charge us more money. Bookstores, thrift stores, coffee shops, cafes, and so on. They pressure you to give for the Lord's work and spreading the Gospel, then they open businesses with that money to make money for the church, but they charge you (the tithe payer who funds that business in the first place) more money to benefit from them.
Do you see the difference? Do you see the problem?
Local Christian churches have been thriving financially on the generous and selfless donations of God's people for centuries. Since the Great Depression, it's been nearly a century. And now we have the Coronavirus, which has already sent millions of Americans home and will undoubtedly destroy our just recently thriving economy. Not to mention all of the lives that will be lost to this viral illness.
The stock market has plummeted, millions of people have lost their jobs, and the government has already put together a stimulus package to help American families, workers, and businesses financially survive this crisis. When you pay your taxes, you get government help when you need it the most: right now.
What are churches doing? Well, most if not all of them are praying for us all to survive this pandemic, all of them have closed their doors because of social distancing requirements and demands from the government, and some of them are doing all they can to help their local communities in this time of need. But also, many of them are doing as little as humanly possible to help.
While some churches are actually ignoring the government's orders to close their doors and risk spreading the virus even further, most have closed their doors and have switched to putting their services live online.
To help those who have supported their existence for decades? Well, let's see. Some churches have volunteers delivering groceries to the elderly, doing their shopping for them so they can avoid social contact at the store, and donating tons of food. Some churches are sponsoring blood drives to donate to local hospitals (which probably doesn't cost them a dime).
But giving back to those who have paid their tithing or given to the church in freewill donations? So far, I haven't seen any kind of "stimulus" package for the Christians who have given selflessly to their church for years. Nothing like the government is doing by putting cash right in the pockets of American taxpayers. Nothing for the "widows" and "orphans" who are struggling even more than the rest of us right now.
In fact, from what I've seen not only are they not giving back to their congregation, but they are insisting that church members continue giving as they always have, despite the fact that millions of Americans are now out of work.
SMCC (South Mountain Community Church) sent out an email a few weeks ago asking their members to continue giving "as normal," and continues to ask for money at the beginning and end of their online services as well.
A tiny minority of churches have added resources and links on their websites to allow for people to ask for help, while most haven't changed a single thing. Almost every church continues to pressure giving to the church, providing several opportunities and ways to give money, while practically hiding the option to ask the church for financial help.
CAMPUS Church is Giving Back
Of course, there are exceptions to this norm, and as usual, CAMPUS Church is a big one. Pastor Shawn McCraney has gone on record saying they will liquidate all of the church's property except for what is needed to continue their online streaming teachings, and give it to anyone in need. Anyone, church checkers. That includes atheists, Mormons, Christians that don't attend CAMPUS, or any church at all. If CAMPUS can help, they will.
On the other hand, if you go to virtually any other church in the Salt Lake metropolitan area, you'll be told that you must be a member of their church in order to receive help. You must volunteer at their church, or go to one of their Small Groups, or attend the church regularly. You must be worthy to receive their help.
If you know of a Christian church that's actually putting their money where their mouth is, let us know. We want to encourage Christians to support churches that are giving to the needy, not greedy like the churches we've spoken to.
An Atheist Podcaster Is Less Greedy Than Most Christian Churches
In other related news, a popular YouTuber and podcaster by the name of Stefan Molyneux made an interesting statement last night during one of his live streaming shows. My husband and I actually watch this YouTuber on a regular basis for his helpful content.
Stefan is a self-proclaimed atheist who speaks on philosophical, political, and social issues, and he was demonetized by YouTube last year, losing over 90% of his income as a result, so even before COVID-19 was an issue for workers worldwide, this guy was struggling. When asked by someone in his live chat how they can donate to him in the chat, at 5:45, he says:
"...I have of course hesitated to ask for support, donations are down enormously of course because of Coronavirus. I have been really hesitant to ask for your support. I am continuing to work and spend money because, you know there are people who...um...are facing a loss of income in other areas so wherever I can spend on the show I legitimately will....if you can support the show, I know it's a tough time. Please, please don't, of course, provide anything that makes you uncomfortable or anything that you need for food or ammunition or whatever the heck is going on..."
Here's a link to the video itself if you're curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkvVLxnCwGM&t=3411s. He makes this statement at about five and a half minutes into the stream.
Stefan then provides ways people can donate to his show, but the preceding comments really put things into perspective if you think about how relentless local churches are continuing to be in their pursuit for more money.
In addition to this comment, Stefan Molyneux also offers to pay for counseling and mental health support for complete strangers, which you can hear for yourself by watching some of his call-in shows. He's even done this after losing most of his income to help those who have severe mental problems caused by experiencing abuse earlier in life.
If an atheist podcaster who would never claim to have the Holy Spirit within him has the moral capacity to know that asking for money in a time like this is distasteful, why don't our local Christian churches? If an atheist podcaster, who's already lost most of his income over the past year and is struggling himself can understand the struggle of his supporters, decides to pull back on asking for donations, why aren't our local Christian churches?
It's insane, people. In. Sane. Of all the people in the world, Christian church leaders, who preach giving without ceasing at all times, should be the most generous and supportive people to their communities in a time like this. Yet, all we find is more volunteer work opportunities in the church.
If there is a church willing to divulge how much money they've actually given away, I'd love to see it. I don't mean work that volunteers in their church completed without pay from the church. I don't mean food that was donated by the congregation, and I don't mean money taken out of a "benevolence fund" that's paid for by the congregation. I mean money that the church leaders spent to help those in need from their own pockets. Real sacrificial giving from the local church to the needy.
Can you find me one that I haven't already? I'd like to see it.