Sunday, December 02, 2012

Home Is Where The Heart (and Money) Is!

Guy Muse, a missionary to Ecuador, asked a question this morning Do you know how much the average Baptist gives to global missions per year? and the answer is troubling...

While the amount varies from year to year, the best I have been able to ascertain is the annual capita giving swings somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.00 on the low end, and $8.35 on the high end.

Of course there is a skewing to this as there are a small number of Southern Baptists who give much more to mission funds and many, many who give zilch and using the raw numbers of Southern Baptist "members" horribly overstates the actual numbers but the point is that in the SBC, a conservative and self-described evangelistic denomination, the per capita giving for global missions is negligible. I would guess that the same is true for domestic mission groups.

Meanwhile as I have written before (see my post Speaking of haranguing the institutional church ) this same denomination has tens of billions in church property that requires untold tens of millions in maintenance each year. So by and large American church goers seem quite content to put checks in the plate (in return for a tax deduction of course) to buy and maintain the comfy buildings they go to a few hours a week but can barely be bothered to give the equivalent of a super sized meal at McDonald's to reach the lost overseas.

I wonder what Jesus would have said about our tendency to keep our giving where it is of the most benefit to ourselves? Or maybe we don't need to wonder...

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

1 comment:

Tom Lutke said...

Arthur, you pushed my button on this one. I think the Southern Baptist numbers that you refer to are actually on the top end of missional giving by American churches.

The numbers that I have read are that the average church in America gives only 6-7% of their budget in ways that do not in somehow benefit their members.

I am a proponent of ending the tax-exempt status for religious institutions. Churches are akin to health clubs; they are simply spiritual health clubs that exist for the benefit of their members and therefor should not receive tax exempt status.

Perhaps such an action would end the institutions emphasis on opulent buildings.

It might not increase giving to missions but I don't see how such giving could get much worse.