Friday, February 20, 2009

Contemplating Consumerism...

My closets are full of clothes I seldom wear. My shelves are lined with books I will only read once. My fridge is so crammed with food, that expired sour cream and wilted lettuce is bound to create useless waste. Toys flow over creative (and expensive) storage units that grace my children's rooms in Pottery Barnesque style. Video games, movies, shoes, makeup, coffee mugs, curriculum... endless seas of home school curriculum, hot wheel cars, Lego pieces, dolls, cat toys, dishes, floral arrangements, seasonal decorations, boxed up art, unused scrap booking supplies... or card making.. or quilting..., AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

How much money has been spent on useless crap???????

I'm not against my kids getting toys, or buying myself a cute pair of shoes, but as I look at the grotesque amount of "stuff" we have accumulated, I am ashamed.

Our little church has a $3500.00 deficit. You know, $3500 really isn't all that much, but to them, it is huge. When I look around my house and see the THOUSANDS of dollars we have spent on nothingness, it makes me sick. SICK. While I can't come up with $3500 to give our church, I have somehow found endless $$$ to fill my home with useless junk.

My priorities have been wrong.

Oh, but I did tithe. For years and years I tithed to a big church that spent the money on useless junk too. Fake plants, granite bathrooms, special speakers. My last church spent $100,000 on a fundraising "specialist" who came in and tried to guilt us out of MORE money. Why? So we could build a coffee shop! Oh, and more granite and $400 silk fica trees.

I've had the "give to our church and you will be blessed financially by God" speech shoved down my throat more times than I can stomach. It was all about greed. Greed of the church (sorry folks, but taking credit card payments from it's members to put granite in a bathroom IS greed). Greed of it's members. Yes, I'll give money to the church bathroom beautification fund because I want God to bless me with MORE STUFF!!!

What ever happened to giving to your church because you believe in it's purpose? Because your heart wants to see the word of God spread? Because you know they will use the money wisely to help the body of believers? What happened to giving just for the joy of giving?

You know what I think? I think they can shove the prosperity movement up their ....

Now I stand at the doors of a modest church, and I have nothing left to give. I strongly agree with the principles of sowing and reaping. I have sowed tithes of greed into a corrupt church. I have sowed my finances into consumerism. Now a true place of worship lays crumbling at my feet,
and I feel powerless to do anything about it.

What should we do? We planted seeds of greed, watered it with a love of money, and now we as a nation are harvesting our own nightmare. Where do we go from here?

I look at Acts 4:34-35 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Is this how we will survive? Is this how my church will keep it's doors open? Who are the apostles? Who can we trust?

I am not hopeless. I sense that God can and WILL work in this situation. He is pulling the weeds out of my life as we speak, I imagine he is doing the same for much of the church. Maybe the church will emerge from this, ready to make an impact. A clear focus on Christ without ladies luncheons, super sound systems and sparkly bathrooms in the way.


javamamma said...

While I agree completely with where you're coming from, I have a few differences of opinion.

Coming from a church that has a newer building and is about to expand and buy yet another facility....all to reach more people (and they are). If the goal of a new coffee shop is to reach more people - the focus of souls and good Christian fellowship - I'm all for it.

That said, man's greedy heart can always taint what started out as a pure effort to impact and reach the lost.

Halfmoon Girl said...

hmmmm, good post, Karlie- makes ya think... I couldn't have peace in a church that fundraised for granite coffee shops by taking credit card payments either. Our church has a slot at the back for offering, so it is a private, between the individual and God kind of thing. I appreciate that. We raised money to buy a lot after the leadership prayed for direction, brought it to the congregation when they felt the answer was yes, and over 60 000 was raised in 2 weeks- no one HAD to give- we were asked to go home and pray about it. (that amount of money is a lot when you have about 100 regular attenders) When we are giving along with God's plan, He moves in miraculous ways. That is just some of my thoughts. Is that really your church? It is lovely, though a little worn looking :)

Truth said...

How did we become a people with so much stuff??? I guess none of us is above lust.

Becky said...

I, too, find it a shameful waste of resources when churches devote hundreds of thousands of dollars to build extravagant buildings to meet once or twice weekly, when simple, utilitarian buildings would be just as suitable, and the mega-bucks could be spent to fund actual missionary work and outreach clinics, homes for unwed mothers and AIDS patients, soup kitchens...things that help folks tangibly.

Our church has always operated with a pretty good savings account, but we recently had to repave our parking lot (which was a bit of a liability), and that took us down lower than our deacons and trustees felt was wise. They began praying about it before even bringing the problem before the church (my husband is a deacon which is how I know, lol).

While nobody asked anyone on the payroll to take a deduction in pay (nobody wanted our Pastor to feel he had to)...the rest of the staff (visitation pastor, church secretary and youth leader) went down to half-pay, and eliminated the positions of lawn maintenance in favor of having volunteers come in on a rotating schedule to do those things. (We are blessed to have several retirees that enjoy yard work). We also had an all-church work party to spruce things up, and an electrician and a plumber in our church took care of some needs for free. We also share our humble facilities with a hispanic congregation, and they, too, helped in all these projects.

The coolest thing was that we needed to do some backhoe work on the church property due to some flash flooding issues (which tend to be a problem in the desert during rainy season). After the church began to pray, the Lord provided for this need in an amazing way...our pastor was out getting the mail and saw a truck driving past pulling a backhoe. He flagged him down to ask about his prices (having been calling around for quotes that were out of reach), and the guy said, "I couldn't charge you a dime for it. I'm happy to do it for free, brother." And bless his heart, he wouldn't accept a nickel for even the gas for the backhoe. Just a fellow Christian (from another church in town) with a big heart, doing whatever he could for the Lord.

All that to say KEEP PRAYING. The Lord will reveal a good course of action.

Perhaps your church might consider an all-church yard sale on the church property? Bringing in a bunch of their 'stuff' to help raise the needed funds? Or maybe a dinner theater type thing...serve a good spaghetti dinner while folks come in and watch a play or a fun, friday night talent show type thing. We do a lot of stuff like this to raise funds to keep our Awana club going, and the Lord ALWAYS blesses.

Anonymous said...

I have plenty to say about this topic, however I will keep it to a minimum. The "bless me" gospel has aided in the crash of our economy. Many in the "church" bought the lie that more is better. Jesus never had coffee shops. He gave to the poor. I am sure the poor that are to be reached can't afford the fancy coffee. I am sure they would be more blessed with groceries. Also what about the 30,000 children that are dieing from preventable problems. We are told to take care of the widows and orphans. Those fancy building could probably build a lot of orphanages and feed many. I am starting, sorry. So I will end with this, "As the church goes, so does the country" hhmmmm wonder where we are headed???

EEEEMommy said...

What a great post, Karlie!! Such fabulous insight!

The thing that impresses me most when you write like this is that you're not just pointing the finger in judgment, but are starting with yourself. It's a very visible application of removing the plank from your own eye first. That kind of self-examination first, is what truly challenges me to do my own self-examination, where I find the same root issues lurking in my own heart. I've been sick lately over my own stuff!

The resulting clarity with which you then evaluate the issues within the church today, is a much needed wake-up call to those who have gotten distracted from the true heart of the Gospel and the Great Commission by granite bathrooms and fica trees. People talk of revival, which is much needed, but even more so, we need a reformation. I pray that the Holy Spirit would bring about both!

Grace and Peace,

P.S. My favorite part, "You know what I think? I think they can shove the prosperity movement up their ...." Love you, girl!! :)