GA Agenda – Realignment of Resources – “Bean Soup?”

I will continue to confess that I am of the deep conviction that, in my opinion, the Church of God does not have a money problem primarily…it has a credibility and trust problem. It seems that holding that opinion may suggest being against any measure to reduce the burden of required financial contributions from local churches to the denomination. That is not true. I too believe we need a cut…and anticipate being very involved the “Realignment of Resources,” item on the agenda. But is our desperation setting us up…?

I feel the legalistic language in the preamble (or rationale) portion of the “Realignment of Resources” agenda item creates some sort of sacrosanct orientation toward the tithe of tithe…thereby rendering any consideration for reducing THAT portion as “undiscussable.” The implication that, “Due to scripture we mustn’t even consider dialog regarding the 10%,” is to me, manipulative at a minimum. I’m really sort of surprised it was presented in that fashion.

You know the old debate supposition, “Grant the premise…concede the conclusion.” In this case the conclusion would be: “The only thing really left for discussion is the 5% we have designated as “offerings” for World Missions and Evangelism/Home Missions, since from a scriptural and spiritual standpoint we can’t talk about ‘the other.'” That one really bugs me on several levels. I am prepared to neither, “Grant the Premise”…or to “Concede the Conclusion,” in this matter on what has been suggested as undiscussable.

I have recently rediscovered and been reimpacted by the incredible legacy and history of the Church of God. Part of that rediscovery was the spirit in which the COG gave birth to the designated percentages presently given to Missions. I guess it is the spirit of that that I am trying to hang on to. Maybe it’s a bad idea. I believe sincerely that the far, far greater issue on the table at this point in our history is one of organizational integrity for the COG.

This whole process right now is about recapturing honest dialog and ultimately credibility and trust. It’s about words and actions. It’s about preserving tomorrow’s “blessing.” I really feel the current “Realignment of Resources” measure as presented may very well leverage the financial desperation of the Ordained Bishops (and local churches) into accepting something …anything…that will satisfy the current financial hunger pangs that gnaw away at us. Unfortunately this may leave us bereft of the “blessing” that would be ours tomorrow.

For me…I don’t’ know that I am willing to surrender the potential blessing of regained credibility and trust …and dialog …and vision …and fellowship …and spiritual fatherhood. Someone else may set the current table of expedience…but I do not have to sit down and eat. A bowl of bean soup may be great at the moment…and may satisfy the hunger today…but the long range implications may separate us from the destiny that would otherwise be ours. Ask Esau.

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9 Responses

  1. Tom,

    I believe that you are on the right track with the “premise” analogy. If our starting point is not the same, then we will never arrive at the same destination. The issue IS one of trust in leadership; and as I referred to in a previous comment, perhaps that begins in our heart. There is a line somewhere between the protection that comes from submitting to the available authority AND THEN being seen as unsubmissive when trying to be an agent of change for the good of the movement.

    The problem is that even the “missions offering” has gotten so far off of what it was intended to accomplish that I don’t know if it even carries the ” ‘blessing’ that would be ours tomorrow.” Perhaps it does. Just as you believe that your posts are seen as a vote against the realignment for the “blessing” issue; I think that any question on the other side is seen as a definite vote for realignment. There is too much pendulum shift here.

    My hope is that the discussion (on this and the other issues) can be one without the constant perception of “us against them”. I appreciate your research and concern on this matter.

  2. Bobby,

    Great observation. And I agree all the way around.

  3. Lost in the debates of this already have our minds made up dialogue is the example of the tithe of tithe Biblically. We base our financial structure on an OT system where the people paid tithes to the priests, and the priests paid tithes to the High priests. What really needs to be done to correct the ‘trust’ factor among the ministry is to have the church pay 10% of their total income to State HQ … thus eliminating the slush funds and ‘church tithes’ from larger congregations and (dare I say it) pastors who serve on the Council of 18. 10% of all the funds should be sent to state office; 10% should be sent from State to General. Thus we put the necessary funds at the stae level where it is needed most, and downsize the need for more employees at the General Level.

    However, I doubt we will ever be able to get an honest discussion on this matter, since we seem to distrust Generals while at the same time seek for ways to circumvent the process of trust from the pastoral level.

  4. I am new to this site, and so far have simply responded with my thoughts on the discussions that I have read. In all honesty, my thoughts are most certainly colored by my current ministry, and the needs thereof.
    I do believe very strongly in the TOT. I have not, sadly, thought to look closely at it, until I read Bruce’s comment. It makes sence to me, I will follow the mandates of the GA, as I feel it is my responsibility to be in subjection to those over me in the Lord. However, I would like to hear more disucssion about Bruce’s thoughts on the TOT, I believe he is right.
    It’s not about us, it’s all about HIM!

    Thanks Bruce
    John

  5. Bruce,

    To me, what you have targeted is the credibility and trust problem we have across the board. But those in leadership do have a responsibility to act redemptively toward (and in) any situation. I don’t see enough of that happening.

    Regarding 10% of TOTAL giving….I would buy into that as long as a significant portion was dedicated (mandated) to be spent on missions and missional pursuits.

    Great thoughts.

  6. The focus seems to be on the lack of trust in the current format as it pertains to accountability at the state and international levels. Is it possible that we are using this issue to mask a desire to act independently (selfishly?) of the chain of command? God has made it clear that while 100% of what we have is his, he is content only to ask for 10% back. If God can build his kingdom off that 10% why does the COG require 15%? Furthermore, if any pastor is “cooking the books” to redefine what their actual tithe is in order have to give less such a person is a disgrace to the office and should have the decency to surrender their credentials posthaste! I for one would not relish having to explain to the Lord at the judgment my reasons for robbing his house.
    Missions to me has always been a seperate budget item from administration. No good can come from trying to combine the two as they are actually at cross purposes. My vote would be to reduce the TOT to 10% and fund the missions program seperately through monthly donations from each congregation. If a pastor can’t “sell” missions giving to their flock then they are in the wrong ministry.

  7. James,

    A couple thoughts:

    1. We send in 15%, not because I believe it to be the biblical prescription for denominational support found in the Scriptures. I think we’d truly be hard pressed to substantiate our practice with Scripture as a Scriptural mandate. I see people providing that conclusion without providing the conclusive Scriptural path. We simply send it in because we have made the commitment to the General Assembly, our highest governing body, to do so. We are in covenant with the Church of God. It will be and is sent in gladly.

    2. Pastors shouldn’t cook their books and circumvent the Minutes by misreporting the Tithe. Likewise, state offices should not be spending the 2.5% designated for “new field work and small church assistance” on anything but those activities. If a pastor should resign for cooking his books and a state overseer were to resign for spending EHM money on items other than “new field work and in emergency, small church assistance,” we’d lose some good pastors and practically all of our state overseers.

    3. For me, as one who does not see any support for a TOT to support a denominational system, it is easy for me to make the following statement. If given the choice to send in mandated monies to denominational administration or to World Missions activities, I will choice the mission critical activity of Matthew 28:19-20 as best expressed by our denominational entities in our World Missions department.

    Before you dismiss my conclusion, I’d love to see anything other than free will offerings being given to the Apostle Paul by the local churches. Please show a singular instance where Paul requires a 10 or 15% fee being sent to him while he was in prison. In Philippians, it would seem that he indicated that the only ones that had really even given him anything was the church at Philippi. It was not mandated and it did not detract from the mission of Jesus in that city.

    With that said, I’d like to get to a more biblical 10% as opposed to our 15% we are currently at.

    Your thoughts?

  8. […] We didn’t sell our inheritance for a bowl of bean soup. […]

  9. Maybe I’m too trusting. My thinking may be a little old fashion, after all we are in the age of Blog and instant message.
    Maybe the Church of God does need some changes. Maybe administrations aren’t using the funding wisely. Maybe we need a revamping of the entire system. No! I don’t think that for a moment.
    I believe the Church of God has grown because of good godly men that have filled offices of General, State, and local. I believe it has grown because of World Missions and the funding alocated by the %5.
    By the many missionaries that have traveled the country and raised $5 here and $5 there, and ask any missionary if it is easy to fund their budgets and you will hear them say it is difficult.
    I am not a second or third generation minister raised in the church. I came out of an independent church. Most independent churches see no need for organization and wouldn’t fund an organization with tithe of tithe. As a matter of fact I have to contend with the remark, ” we don’t answer to a headquarters”.
    I have had a difficult time funding my ministry and still do.
    Without the tithe of tithe the Church of God wouldn’t be able to exisit as an organization. State and General offices wouldn’t be able to function for lack of funds.
    Send them an offering would be a joke, how could you squeeze an offering from a pastor who complains about sending 10% .
    I don’t support every program when the General Headquarters sends me a letter. I find it impossible to do so.
    We do support missions and I feel disappointed that there would be a discussion to eliminate the 5%, but if the General Assembly and the General Officals see the need I will abide by their decision.
    But I am no longer independent, I left the land of independence 33 years ago when I took membership with the Church of God and as long as I live and remain a member of the Church of God I will support the Church of God and not complain about the tithe of tithes. If I didn’t agree with the teachings of the Church I wouldn’t be a member. But even then I’d still have to pay tithes to someone.
    I pray that the leaders appointed can help bring about a unity, and that God will continue to pour his blessings on the greatest denomination on the earth, the Church of God.

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