Friday, September 3, 2010

Churches and charity, part 2

Yesterday, I posted the comment I put up in response to this blog in which I said basically, I wouldn't look to the church for fundraising tips; church fundraising is often abusive and plays the "God wants you to" card.

On the other hand, the author does have a point that what churches do have is a platform week after week for making the case for charity. The tricky part is, are we making a case for donations, or are we making a case for becoming generous people in everything we do?

Of course this isn't an either/or. One problem, though, is that I think the two tend to get conflated: "If you give generously to the church, then you are a generous person" kind of a thing.

And it's understandable because there is the inherent pressure in any organization to come up with the funds to keep it running; people who provide more of those funds are of course going to be perceived as more generous in a way that, say, the widow putting in her mite is not. Sometimes generosity is hard to see.

What I am wondering is if there is a way to tease out the work of fundraising from the work of training people in generosity. The way our churches are currently configured, it's very difficult. The weekly passing of collection plates and elevation of the gifts strikes me as tricky because it currently suggests that that the money we give to the church are our gifts.

What if we encouraged people week by week to include in the collection not only money but also messages expressing how they were generous that week, what gifts they gave to people in need, what other charities they supported, what they did that made a difference. People are generous in so many ways; I think it would be wonderful to create a way for us to acknowledge all the gifts the people of God give to God.


it's margaret said...

Our collection plate is stuffed with prayer requests, confessions, offerings...... and other signs and symbols of our life and labor... some I keep, burn and add to the ashes for Ash Wednesday.

LKT said...

You are so fabulous!

Anonymous said...

As I mull this post over in my mind, it seems to connect to some past discussions about the role of size in evaluating the success or failure of congregations and other church communities. Numbers can be easy to get, but they don't always tell us what we want to know. How do we count the uncountable? Assess the intangible? Thank God for what we cannot see as well as what we can?