Support Your Local Church First

August 21, 2003

I am angry! I just heard something on the radio that made my blood boil! No, it wasn't the pornographic lyrics of some new rock-and-roll song; nor was it news of the continuing deterioration of morals. I could understand that. In these last days I expect to hear news of deteriorating morals and accounts of man's inhumanity to man. To me, all of these things point to an intensified need for the mission of the church and the message of redemption.

No, it was something I heard on a so-called Christian program on a so-called Christian radio station that made me so angry. I can't recall the exact words of the preacher, but in his closing remarks, this is approximately what he said:

"The time has come to speak frankly. Some of you are giving all your tithes into dead churches, and that is just throwing God's money down a rathole. God wants me to tell you that you should be supporting this Gospel radio broadcast. Now in a moment I am going to give you our address where you can send your tithes and offerings…"

Now perhaps you don't know why that made me so angry! Let me explain. First, this so-called Bible teacher maligned the Body of Christ under his blanket insult. Second, that preacher exalted himself and his own ministry as being more worthy than the local church.

I sat down immediately and wrote that preacher a postal card at the address he gave, and I told him what I'm about to tell you. This is something about which your own pastors might be reluctant to speak, but as the head of a Faith Mission, I feel a moral obligation to tell you that, when it comes to giving, you ought to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CHURCH FIRST.

It's true that there are churches that have departed from the place of faith so that they could be called "dead churches." If you belong to a church which you feel is unworthy of your support and wholehearted involvement, it means the time has come for you to seek God's will in finding a new church. It doesn't mean forget the church and find substitute causes that you feel are more worthy.

How can you know a good church? A good church supports many causes besides the ministry it provides for you in your community. A good church usually has a worldwide missions program, a program for local outreach, and a program to support Christian education and the education of ministers. A good church is not self-centered, and most of you who receive our newsletter already go to good churches that fit the above description.

You, dear friends, are over-and-above people. You do right to support your local church first. Then you seek to do more by supporting other Godly causes as well. BEWARE of those who insinuate that orphans will starve or some calamity will overtake their ministry unless they receive money from you. That is simply not the way God works. God's work done in God's way will never suffer any want. You can count on that!!

When you so cheerfully give over-and-above to Jews for Jesus, you enable us to carry on our mission. A faith ministry like ours has many needs and many opportunities, and I promise you from the bottom of my heart that, with the last bit of strength I have, any donation you give Jews for Jesus will be faithfully husbanded, and we will do our very best to extend the Gospel with whatever monies have been given. BUT do not give to us unless you have first made provision to give to the local congregation where you regularly worship.

I also want to address myself to those of you who haven't sent in a donation to Jews for Jesus. Please don't feel guilty! We know that many of you are just not in a position to give financial support, and we believe that you do support us in prayer. That, too, is important to us. And if you do have only a little to give, please support your local church first! The attitude toward your donation must be according to what the Apostle said in Philippians 4:17: "Not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account."

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I disagree. I notice you gave no scripture for your point. Consider 2 Cor. 8- 9, the giving chapters. The "where" of giving here is the needs of others ouside the "local" church. The institutional form of church (I.C.) has a systemic flaw. In the typical I.C., 75 - 85% of the giving goes to buy stuff for the people who give the $. That's pooling not giving. There is a kind of church where 100% of the giving goes beyond the giver as the Bible teaches. The I.C. has refused to understand Paul's clear teaching AND example on "refusing the right to be paid", or "ministering free of charge". See Acts 20, 1 Cor. 9, 2 Thes. 3, etc. Pooling "giving" to fluff the comfort zone of rich believers is a long standing "sacred cow" that needs to be addressed with good Berean study.
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