September 20, 2017

Jesus Shaped Compassion

Comments

  1. Good for them. Still, though the Oprah stuff is not typical, what church doesn’t give away money? Most churches, liberal or conservative, including the one I’m in, give to those in need in the congregation, at their doorstep, in their community (often through a ministerial group) regularly. How does my church give, I don’t know, never kept track. That does not include the charity that occurs individually through members.

    Its a news story because a larger church is giving away money, against the stereotype – but I’m sure that if you dug further you would find many fine ministries and churches in the Dallas area that do as much, maybe more.

  2. Churches do a lot of giving, and individuals in churches do a lot of giving. I’m not implying others don’t or anyone reading doesn’t.

    I am not saying other churches in Dallas don’t give or anything like that.

    I still think the story is notable for three reasons:

    1. How it started.
    2. The amount.
    3. The local focus.

    “Giving” to local causes is quite a bit more difficult in some churches than it ought to be. Giving to the denomination or to missionaries is acceptable, but single moms, the unemployed, etc are often not seen the same way, esp in some conservative churches that I have served.

    I also affirm that a lot of churches do combined local ministries with other churches. It’s all great. I’m not criticizing anyone in this post.

  3. sue kephart says:

    I don’t find this unusual. When I was involved with a mission congregation (church planting) the first thing our pastor asked our small gruop of folks was what outreach are we going to do? We didn’t have a building like this guy (on the video) or much of anything, old donated worship books, so on. Some thought we shouldn’t be “giving away our money” before we met our own needs. That’s not Christian we were told. So we choose to buy school supplies for several children we didn’t even know. I was brought up in a church with people who met others needs with out aknowledgement. In fact they would be embarrased to be pointed out.

    Last night at my women circle meeting we were desiding on a new service project. We already have several helping the needy. Friday my church will have a Ubi Caritas concert. Donation go to the local food pantry. Then there is our giving to the ‘big church”, ie world hunger and so on. And our pastor’s love fund to help those who come to the church to get help. I could continue because there is more but you get the drift.

    This is a church it is a big part of what we do.

  4. What?? Feeding the poor? Giving to those in need?? What a radical concept — maybe Jesus should have thought of this in the first place!

    The sad thing is that we’ve come so far from what we were meant to be that this sort of thing is considered news.

    Imonk is right — there are churches out there who give. Our church has fewer than 75 members, but we routinely pay bills for people who are out of work or give them groceries or help them get car repairs, whether they attend our church, another church, or no church. Most of the churches who do that sort of thing just don’t make a lot of splash about it, so they’re put under the same label as the big flashy churches who spend all their money on themselves.

  5. Wow, it does my heart good to hear this little report. Thanks for posting it, IM.

  6. Good to see a church getting positive coverage.
    Seems all we get today is mostly coverage of the scandals.

    It would be great for KDAF to do a follow up story showing in one lump sum, the amount given by all the churches of Texas to the poor of Texas (and the world)…

  7. Scott Pierce says:

    Putting our money where our values ought to be…

    Ryan’s right, of course: lots of churches give to their communities. This one is about the scale and the emphasis of the giving. Also, a really good idea to distribute the money indirectly, through the congregants themselves, who are closer to the action, so to speak.

    It’s a telling reminder of why centralized planning and disbursement is less effective, less meaningful, and less efficient than decentralized and (dare I write it?) market-driven initiatives.

  8. Being a church employee, I was struck very strongly by the pastor’s quote: “If I’m not being taken advantage of, I’m not being like Jesus.”

    I feel maybe sometimes I go too far to make sure I am NOT taken advantage of. How do you guys feel about that quote?

  9. The Church of Acts in our day. I love the idea of the 50.00 giveaway…what a blessing. I have been moved lately to look at local needs as well as missionary needs. Our city aches with need!

  10. Miguel — Jesus was frequently taken advantage of. It never stopped Him from giving of Himself.

  11. I think it’s great and wonder if it helps that this church is nondenominational.
    I attend a Lutheran church that’s part of a synod that’s millions in debt. The church earmarks tens of thousands for the synod each year and then gives even more specifically to help pay down the synod’s debt. So why isn’t the synod selling off some of its assets?
    I guess denominations have their place, but I wonder if the structure doesn’t cause churches to be much more inward-looking than they ought to be. The main reason for synods is to run debt-ridden seminaries that produce debt-ridden pastors for, eventually, debt-ridden churches. What happens when the parishioners also run out of money?
    We’re so busy paying off the consequences of bad past decisions that we can’t afford to adequately help the poor around us.

  12. In college, we went around the dorms one day with cleanser and toilet brushes and cleaned everyone’s toilets. The looks on the faces were priceless

  13. …miguel..i know what you mean about first being sure im not being taken advantage of….i struggle with this EVERY TIME someone ask”s me for spare-change or a dollar which is happening so often now that i believe God is sending them directly to me to test me…i WANT to help them but i question HOW the money will be spent…should i EVEN concern myself with that??…should i just be obedient and give?…….im not sure what the ‘right’ answer is…i just follow my heart at the time……

  14. Tom Huguenot says:

    I don’t want to appear hyper-critical, but I had very mixed feelings when I watched this video.

    It’s certainly a good thing for this church to help those who are struggling financially, but, after all, it’s a minimum. How much did their sancturay cost, BTW?

    The other problem I have with this kind of local initiative is that it fails to consider the big picture: the capitalistic system and its flaws. Unless we do it, we’ll maybe have “compassion” or “charity” but certainly not social justice…

  15. ….by publicisng their generosity did they lose their ‘reward’?..are there hidden motives involved?..can giving ever be for the wrong reason?..are my reasons for giving sometimes more about me than i care to admit?…when im “guilted” into giving does that count? ….i have come to realize that i do many GOOD things for the wrong reasons…i find myself constantly examining the motives BEHIND my intentions..sometime i dont like what i find and i hear the words of Jack Nicholson saying to me “YOU CANT HANDLE THE TRUTH”……

  16. sue kephart says:

    I like Thomas Merton’s term, “disinterested affection”. A service that that does not ask to be paid in return.

  17. instructing people to take from the collection plate if they need it. That’s a new concept to me. Takes guts for a pastor to do that. That’s real sharing from the community, to the community.

    very interesting.

  18. sue kephart says:

    Maybe this is a bit worldly but thinking about what phil_style said I wonder what this churches tax status is? If they ever audit their books. Also (I’ll be a bit of devil advocate) but it reminded me of the government buying me with my own tax dollar.

    Of course we can’t know someones motivation but I wonder if some of this is to build this guys church. Some might say good if it brings more people to Christ but sometimes I wish we had an ego meter.

  19. The pastor said, “If I’m not being taken advantage of, then I’m not being like Jesus.” Those are beautiful words. Living here in Mexico, people are facing financially hard times that most Americans could never identify with. I’m confronted by people daily who are in great need of money. Some of these people are creating their own jobs and others have only the skills to beg. The other day my wife and I shared at a church in another city. After the service I approached a gentleman to talk to him. He told me about the way God had transformed his life in the church, the illnesses he and his wife are facing, and he made it clear that he needed money. I don’t know this man from Adam. I don’t know if this man attends this church regularly or if He truly has a relationship with God. I don’t know if his wife really has diabetes. But I do know that Jesus taught us to walk the extra mile and to give others the clothes off our backs. Was I taken advantage of? Maybe. But Christ never said not to give to the poor because they might use it to buy liquor. He never said don’t give to the poor because they might be lying to you. He simply said, “Give.” Were that more of us were willing to be like Jesus.

  20. I have been In quite a few church families, never once was I a member of a group that did not give to the poor, members and neighbors. I guess from the publicity this is rare or something?
    I must live in a kind neighborhood, I can’t think of a denomination that does not serve the community.
    Pastor Slough says it best, “it is not an event, it is a life style.”

  21. ….ok josh..what if they are honest and up-front and tell you point blank that they need a drink or a “fix”..does it then become “wrong” to give to them?…are you then perpetuating their problem?….if they told you they were going to buy a rope..would it be any different?…is there ever a time when turning your back becomes the right thing to do and therefore supersedes the actual “literal” words of our Christ about giving?….W.J.D. ……..

  22. SearchingAnglican says:

    Geesh, I think a few of the comments are a little cynical about the reason for and intent of the publicity, and about “megachurches” in general. I too take issue with the stewardship of fiscal resources at any church, but megachurches with their shiny large campuses and large staffs in particular. However, when I think of how much money goes to the hierarchy of my church that could be used for mission and outreach, my heart aches.

    In looking at their Web site and the pastor’s blog, it does not appear that the church did not go looking for this news coverage. But who wouldn’t use the opportunity to share the radical Good News of Jesus Christ?

    In light of the recent Discipleship series here at IM, it is interesting to note that the church’s second priority, after the Word, is relationships. I wonder how this works in practice, but from an outsider’s view, it all seems rather aligned to me.

    If you’d like to see what some of those families have done with their $50, check this out:
    http://sayyesgod.crosstimberschurch.org/walk-across-the-street/

  23. some of you people are amazing.

  24. MAJ Tony says:

    Tom Huguenot: It’s certainly a good thing for this church to help those who are struggling financially, but, after all, it’s a minimum. How much did their sancturay cost, BTW?

    How much SHOULD it cost? I come from a religious tradition where the physical building of a Church is the “Domus Dei” or House of God, in English. Such a structure SHOULD be a “Grand Edifice” that shows permanence of presence, like a great cathedral. Having said that, I make two notes or caveats: First, a church building should SCREAM church, and not secular auditoreum, regardless of size. Second, most historic facilities took decades if not centuries to build, at great cost, but didn’t necessarily break the bank, as the scope of the project and the time that it took to build were often “pay as you go” affairs. Someone on a Catholic blog commented that it would be perhaps difficult to get $2 million for a “space ship” church, but possibly easier to get $10 million for something on a more classical line. People will pay for what they believe in, and may be more willing to take the time to do it right.

    The other problem I have with this kind of local initiative is that it fails to consider the big picture: the capitalistic system and its flaws. Unless we do it, we’ll maybe have “compassion” or “charity” but certainly not social justice…

    I don’t think socialism is a better answer. Bigger government just seems to compound the problem, and cause others, such as the foundering of entrepreneurship. Social justice is best practiced by you and me doing what we should to help those misfortunate. That doesn’t just mean handouts. WE are called to ACT with justice, not just pass laws giving that task to a secular government. How will “they” see the good that we do and give Glory to God if we just pass the task to Uncle Sam?

  25. Boethius says:

    Knowing where the money is going and how it will be used, i.e. if the need is real, is being a good steward of God’s money. It also requires us to get involved in someone’s life in order to know the needs. Proper giving requires relationship which fulfills God’s will for our lives and the lives of others.

  26. While we should be charitable and giving, God also gave us brains. We should be wise and good stewards. We should give even though we may be taken advantage of, but if we can find a better way in which to give and not be taken advantage of we should pursue that. After Jesus fed the five thousand a bunch of those folks got in boats and followed him. He did not feed them again. He gave them some hard teaching to the point that only His disciples remained. John 6. I agree with Boethius above. And I add that we should look to give to our family members in need first, then those in our church family before we need to look for strangers to give to. That is the Biblical model.

  27. Tom Huguenot says:

    To MAJ Tony:

    “How much SHOULD it cost? I come from a religious tradition where the physical building of a Church is the “Domus Dei” or House of God, in English. Such a structure SHOULD be a “Grand Edifice” that shows permanence of presence, like a great cathedral.”

    if you want to…we have thousands of beautiful and empty cathedrals here in Europe, and it’s not really a problem. Those buildings belonged to the “Christendom” era, and are not adpated to our new ways of being Christians. This being said, the American Church is not wasting money on buildings only…

    “I don’t think socialism is a better answer.”

    I do not think I have mentioned Socialism, only “social justice”. This being said, I am a Christian AND a Socialist voter, but I do not confuse the two. I just wanted to remind you that capitalism has been denounced by the Social Thought of most decent Christian churches (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Mainline Protestant).

    “Social justice is best practiced by you and me doing what we should to help those misfortunate.”

    Yeah right, and I have heard this kind of statement for years in the mouth of my American Conservative Christian friends. Now, please tell me: if your neighbour has diabetes are YOU going to pay for his monthly treatment? Or if has cancer? Are YOU going to pay for his chemiotherapy?
    Again, a systemic problem can not have individual solutions.

  28. ATChaffee says:

    The Didache, while commanding generosity, also places limits.

    Didache 1:6
    Yea, as touching this also it is said; Let thine alms sweat into thine hands, until thou have learnt to whom to give.

    Didache 11:12
    And whosoever shall say in the Spirit, Give me silver or anything else, ye shall not listen to him; but if he tell you to give on behalf of others that are in want, let no man judge him.

    Didache 12:2-4
    If the comer is a traveler, assist him, so far as ye are able; but he shall not stay with you more than two or three days, if it be necessary.
    But if he wishes to settle with you, being a craftsman, let him work for and eat his bread.
    But if he has no craft, according to your wisdom provide how he shall live as a Christian among you, but not in idleness. If he will not do this, he is trafficking upon Christ. Beware of such men.

    http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/didache.htm

  29. MAJ Tony says:

    To Tom Huguenot:

    Catholicism has NO dogmatic position on capitalism. There is no dogmatic teaching for or against capitalism. In fact, Rerum Novarum, the encyclical by Pope Leo XIII, states regarding charity:

    there are many who, like the heathen of old, blame and condemn the Church for this beautiful charity. They would substitute in its place a system of State-organized relief. But no human methods will ever supply for the devotion and self-sacrifice of Christian charity.

    Based on your statements, one might question whether you had more faith in God (charity) or man (man-made law). Your implied solution to the systemic problem is for man to try to engineer a fix, which may just exacerbate the problem (the costs of reduced productivity=more expensive goods). God’s solution is to us to do right by our neighbor. THAT is evident from the time of Cain and Abel.

    We don’t need “socialism” but a Christianized capitalism that doesn’t commoditize people/labor. Of course, we can hope against hope, and that’s no excuse to not try to do something to rememdy the problem, but did not the Lord say we would always have the poor with us?

  30. …im with Huguenot here….i personally have evolved to the socialist view after many years of contemplation/observation…and after all of the government intervention into the “Free Markets” i would think the American people would see that capitalism doesnt work over the long haul…in the immortal words of the secular Prophet Bob Dylan..”The Times They Are A Changin”………

  31. “If I’m not being taken advantage of, I’m not like Jesus”

    Amen.

  32. Tom Huguenot wrote
    “I don’t want to appear hyper-critical, but I had very mixed feelings when I watched this video.

    It’s certainly a good thing for this church to help those who are struggling financially, but, after all, it’s a minimum. How much did their sancturay cost, BTW?

    The other problem I have with this kind of local initiative is that it fails to consider the big picture: the capitalistic system and its flaws. Unless we do it, we’ll maybe have “compassion” or “charity” but certainly not social justice…”

    Tom, first of all let’s talk about their sanctuary. I was a member at Cross Timbers when it was built. It was the cheapest structure we could get that would seat about 1200 people. It’s not a solid metal/wood/concrete structure. It’s a stretched membrane building with aluminum frame. We used to jokingly call it the big top or tent.

    It was somewhere between 1.5 and 2.0 million if memory serves me correctly. Instead of building more, they have three services there on weekends – and two of the services are pretty full.

    As for the issue of capitalism…that’s not their issue. Their issue is the Kingdom of God and they are doing what God said to do. Yes capitalism has flaws as does socialism, communism and any other human instituted economic system.

    Are other churches doing great work and giving? Yes they are. Cross Timbers didn’t go looking for the publicity, but somehow Channel 33 got the story and ran with it. On anonther interview, Toby said they didn’t originate most of these ideas, others have been doing them.

    I no longer attend Cross Timbers but I am extremely proud of them.