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February 18, 2012

Comments

Mike W. McVey

Thank you for the article, Greg. One fear I always have is that I may someday become a Christian celebrity... though based on my track record, it is very unlikely.

Leighton

Marketing is a practice too, designed to impose on people's attention to try to extract their money. Megachurches et al more subtly impose on parishoners' finances in order to extract their attention. Thus American churches have managed to turn the ambient culture upside-down while reinforcing the worst flaws and excesses of capitalism. Genius. It's as though they took the parable of the seeds less as a reminder to sow on fertile ground and more as an exhortation to carpet-bomb every square centimeter of land with seeds.

As much as I try to avoid theology, I have to admit that churches that don't view preaching as a Dungeons & Dragons style magic compulsion spell seem not to fall into this trap as often. If you actually have faith that God automagically changes the hearts of everyone (or a critical mass of people) you recite the right collection of syllables in front of (read: you have faith that God will forever shield you from the consequences of not giving enough of a shit about other people to get to know them), there's no reason not to model your ministry around what has worked to enrich the shareholders of the world's most exploitative corporations.

M. Corley

Leighton,

When I went to church, we always had a mini-sermon about the importance of tithing before the bucket went around. I was often troubled by this; the idea of a mini-sermon was appealing, but I did not believe that it should always revolve around the same subject. I know that my church wasn't the only one to follow this practice.

Joshcrain

Greg, I really appreciate your point of view here. I'm a pastor who believes Jesus was about the restoration of all creation and not just any individual's personal salvation. I believe the call of Christ is a call to participate in a much bigger story than what we typically hear taught in Western Evangelical circles.

But that story is more nuanced than the Roman Road or the 4 Spiritual Laws. Which means it takes investment in the lives of others to tell it, show it, live it, be it, and act it out. Our church has chosen not to make Jesus into a divine commodity. It's good to see that people outside of the church understand how important this is.

Thanks for your authenticity, Greg. I always enjoy reading your thoughts.

Leighton

I don't know that I'm suspicious of tithing in itself - any corporation (if a church owns its building, it will have incorporated) has bills to pay. It largely depends on what the money is used for. Cutting-edge AV equipment, bandwidth and campus expansions don't exactly build better communities.

I never liked the idea of having a ceremonial assembly for anything. If you're teaching a class, great. If you need to have a planning meeting, fine. But Catholic and Episcopalian rituals are as meaningless to me as the three-song-and-a-prayer routines of the CofC. But I'm an outlier there, as far as people go; most people see some point in enforced boredom shared experience that I have never been able to.

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