Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I just wanted to share with you something that happened in my city that I believe sheds light on one source of peopleâ€™s dissatisfaction with the church and one of the reason that many urban churches are facing a wave of discontent and a general lack of regard.Â Now for all the holy rollers and Jesus freaks, you can stop reading now because I guarantee you, I am gonna piss you off.
Now, im not gonna talk about the latest bullshit Pastor and his helicopter or Bentley, 18 year old baby mama or Mega Church or Gucci wallpaper.Â Weâ€™ve all heard the stories, weâ€™ve been there, weâ€™ve seen that, weâ€™ve sat in the pews and whispered to each other.Â But this is another category of disgust in an ever expanding litany of disgust-inducing behaviors by the Chuch. ( no typo)
It was a Sunday morning like any any other.Â The urban church show was in full swing.Â Mostly unaccompanied women and gay men trickled into the pews. The churchâ€™s favorite time-filler â€œPraise & Worshipâ€ went on at full volume.Â I usually try to get to church AFTER that damn Praise and Worship part.Â Â Its annoying and I never know if Iâ€™m supposed to be standing up.Â Anyway, service starts, blah blah blah.Â Turns out itâ€™s the First ladyâ€™s birthday.Â So out comes offering plate #1 and everyoneâ€™s supposed to give an offering for her birthday.Â Â Unless she was born inÂ the manger with Jesus,Â I donâ€™t know why I should care. Â I donâ€™t know her and she sure as hell didnâ€™t get meÂ shit for my birthday.Â ButÂ you let that ride.
So more church stuff, some singing, holy ghosting, touching your neighbor and what not.Â Now out comes offering plate #2, something called a Love Offering.Â Now a Love offering is something that no one is actually able to define.Â Even those within the church begin to stumble and stutter when asked what exactly is the purpose of a love offering.Â The best explanation Ive heard is that its an offering to show appreciation to the Pastor and his wife.Â Not Jesus, but the pastor and his wife.Â Chileâ€¦ appreciate these.
OK, more wafer eating, grape juice drinking (coming off of a night of drinking, its so yummy!), more neighbor touching, singing and some announcements.Â Say it aint so, Offering plate #3.Â Now this is the â€œregularâ€ offering.Â The offering that one is used to and expects.Â The one that sends your hard-earned money (that you have given out of guilt because you just couldnâ€™t bear to pass that plate by without putting anything in it) into some locked office down some back steps you never go down.
Now here comes the big mama, the RUFKM moment.Â This church, going into hour 2 announces there will be another offering.Â Offering #4, will be an offering to help the church bring down its debt. Apparently they know that we all got wise to that fake ass building fund and they now talk about debt reduction.Â The Pastor had the unmitigated gall and colossal nerve to ask this church, whose members are generally middle and lower income urbanites, to give $1000 to help reduce the churchâ€™s debt burden.Â Altogether now, RUFKM?
Now this is the same church that did an altar call a little while back and asked all those who had aÂ home that was in danger of foreclosure, to come to the front.Â Hundreds of worshippers went to the front of the church that morning. You know what he did for them?Â Prayed.
Â This is the same church who sits in the middle of an urban center whose unemployment rate tops 15%.Â What in the hell would Jesus do if he knew that his chosen ones were asking their flocks for $1000 in the midst of a recession?Â What would Jesus Do if he knew his Chosen ones were asking those who may be homeless in 30 days to help service the churchâ€™s debt?Â What would Jesus Do if he knew they were passing around an offering plate four times in communities they knew had few means to support their own families.
What happened to churches who were responsible and reacted to the needs of the communities instead of using us as an ATM?Â Instead of asking for $1000 to service your churchâ€™s debt, shouldnâ€™t you be asking for money to start a fund to help keep people in their homes?Â The offering for the First Ladyâ€™s Birthday could have probably gotten 20 families current on their mortgages.Â Even my pagan ass would contribute to that.Â That cause is something I would happily put money into the plate for.
Just the insensitivity and lack of empathy with their supposed â€œflocks.â€Â Arenâ€™t the churches supposed to take care of us?Â Not the other way around.Â It isnâ€™t our fault you went and built some mega church you could barely afford.Â We were all just fine in the old building.
Â Is there any wonder that the churches have become obsolete in the broader movement for social causes?Â We are facing the biggest crisis in a generation, we need more than some second hand clothes and new backpacks in September.Â Why cant you use the offerings that we make without fail, every Sunday, to help us in our time of need?Â It reminds me insurance companies, you pay and pay and pay into it and then when you really need something â€“ they donâ€™t want to give you anything.
Churches are about service, not self-serving.Â We must get away from the Church version of American Idol, where every church wants star status.Â Where every Pastor longs for gators, a long ass suit jacket, and a TV show.Â Somewhere along the way we forgot about the real mission of the church which was service to humanity.Â Â Â Â Oneâ€™s relationship with their church shouldnâ€™t be one-way.Â There should be a symbiotic relationship where the church supports the community and the community supports the church.Â However, too many churches take take take and then drive back to their Mc Mansions in the suburbs, leaving the flock to fend for ourselves.
Have they become so disconnected from the communities they â€œserveâ€ that they would really believe that asking for four offerings in a service is acceptable?Â Do they really think that asking a lower income congregation to donate $1000 to service the churchâ€™s debt is Christ-like?Â Â Â Have they become so out of touch and so used to free money that theyâ€™ve forgotten that itâ€™s a GOD-damned recession?Â I sure hope not.Â I want you to touch your neighbor and say, shame on you.
Now Iâ€™m not condemning all churches â€“ Iâ€™m sure there are churches out there that are filling necessary voids in social services and providing support to needy families who are down on their luck.Â But to the rest of you churches who are just acting as leeches on a community who is already low on lifeblood, I hope you think about your true calling and I hope your congregations begin to hold you accountable for your lack of service to the very communities that support you.
Â And serving is not just offering Sunday school or watching peopleâ€™s kids while they are in church.Â Â Â How are you gonna offer a potluck dinner for $12 a plate?Â And just where the hell is all the Bingo money going?Â Maybe we donâ€™t need another bus trip to a casino.Â Give us something we really need like food, clothing, shelter or a mortgage payment.
As we brave an economic crisis that is hitting our communities hardest, this is exactly the time where the church should be taking a lead role in the providing of social services.Â This is a time when we need our churches more than ever and I implore you churches to get your acts together.Â You have the opportunity to be a lifeline in the storm for so many, and really, isnâ€™t that what Jesus would do?