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October 04, 2009


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"Obviously, the church believes in what the Bible is saying or they wouldn't make the offer, would they?"

Or they could believe in people's lazy nature and assume that people a) Wouldn't bother making a claim or b) wouldn't have tracked things well enough to make a claim.

I tithe a full 10% am not convinced that this promo is a good idea. I think tithing has a lot to do with faith and obedience. While this promo may promote obedience, leaving yourself a huge way out seems to greatly diminish the faith aspect.

I agree with Anon, I think that this would promote obedience but not faith. Not being a christian myself, but having been raised in a christian household (I didn't follow in the family faith because I have trouble with the whole believe and don't ask any questions bit) I think you should give because you want to and because it makes you happy to know that you are helping to make a difference in the world. The donations you give to your church help keep the church running, they pay for the building and utilities, it's where your pastor's salary comes from (my grandmother is a pastor so I know a little about how the church budgests). If you like your minister, like what the church provides for you and your community...give. If you don't, first I suggest either finding another church or another spiritual path that you do like and that does make you feel good, and give to that. If none of those appeals to you, give to a charity your trust and that matches your beliefs. And remember, sometimes the best gift you can give is the gift of your time to an organization or individual that needs it.

As an atheist, I am going to take the analytical view of this topic and ignore the belief / non-belief point that you raise: the church is offering people a deal in which the church can't lose. They get new tithers and the only downside is that they would need to return the money upon request.

Put a different way, they are asking for new donations, and they are willing to return these donations upon request of the donor for a period of 3 months. What's their down side?

Weird offer, and uncomfortably close to the "prosperity" heresy preached by some of the mega TV churches. As in: if you're a good Christian, God will make you rich, and if you're poor, obviously you've been bad.

I've always disliked the heavy handed way some churches beg for money, laying on the guilt in various ways. Because many people just can't afford to give money, and would do better to focus on supporting themselves and their family.

And because too many churches tend to spend what they receive on things of dubious relevance to spiritual practice--it seems like they mainly want the church look fancy and to keep up with the other churches. Like new choir robes, remodeling & new buildings, advertising, radio broadcasts, and mission trip overseas travel junkets for college kids.

If the parishoners can't afford to remodel their homes or travel, it doesn't seem like they should be encouraged to give so the church can do it.

Maybe they've read some of your "psychology" posts about people's inability to cash in rebates/use gift cards before the use-by date/etc ;)

The responses are very interesting. Our pastor preached on giving today. I have found that most people that have issues with these sermons are those that are being convicted about not giving or not giving with the right attitude. He used the illustration about the widow who gave all she had. In comparison, it was nothing compared to what the others were giving. In reality, it was far more because she gave all. That is they type of person I want to be- willing to give all and trust God to provide. If you aren't a Christian, it makes no sense. It's not supposed to.

My response to the church is if you aren't willing to stand behind God's Word, what good are you? God promises us that He will provide. Tithing is the one area He tells us to test Him. (Malachi 3) It's a gutsy move, but I believe if the pastor and leadership's hearts are in the right place, God is going to do something HUGE in their church. I'd love to be a part just to see what God does!

This seems to be taking the passage out of context. The promise is to the nation of israel, not to modern-day super-wealthy american churches who insist that they are clearly the center of the universe, so God must honor and apply all promises of blessing that He made to his "chosen people" to them.

Also, how convenient it is that people automatically associate blessing with cold, hard cash. God supplies our *needs* according to His riches, not necessarily our wants. I hope this church is telling people to look for all the blessings we enjoy that aren't legal tender.

In my opinion, the church making this offer is simply betting on the faithfulness of God to honor His word; an act many of us bet on everyday. I recently gave someone $1,000 just to read the Bible from cover to cover (no-strings-attached). I am betting anyone who does this will be the better for it.

The "product" being sold (God's promise) costs the curch nothing to produce, so this promotion is probably quite profitable.

I also think most people would be quite embarrassed to ask for their money back in this situation.

While discussing the topic of saving, I've often told people that if they're not tracking their expenses, I bet I could pull 10% of their net pay out of their monthly income and they wouldn't notice it at all. They always disagree of course - they couldn't possibly live on a penny less than they make now without a catastrophic drop in standard of living.

I think what this church is really doing making the same bet - if they tithe 10% for three months with the assurance that they can get the money back should their world to collapse around them, then they will realize that it's possible without making them paupers. They really do fear this amount will be unbearable, so giving them a guarantee that they can get the money back while they try tithing out is a smart decision on the church's part.

Now they just need to keep the participants engaged and informed. Make them feel like they are members of a select group (which they are). Perhaps weekly meetings where participants can discuss any challenges or successes amongst themselves, followed by a member of the clergy leading a discussion about an area where their money is benefiting the church and/or its mission.

Done right, I suspect many will continue to give after the three months are over.

"If you aren't a Christian, it makes no sense. It's not supposed to."

I'm pretty sure that the beliefs of Christianity are supposed to make sense. Maybe I misinterpreted your meaning there.

Jim --

I think you did.

What I believe is being said is that many of the teachings (i.e. "give and it will be given to you") of Christianity are contrary to "reason." As such, if you're not a Christian (don't believe in Christian principles/what the NT teaches), then much of these principles or the way life works seems like foolishness.

I'm uncomfortable with this idea. Too prosperity-gospel oriented. "God's blessings, guaranteed--or your money back!" is not only presumptuous, it appeals to motives that aren't a good basis for a choice of congregation.

(By the way, it's not even win-break even, it's win-win; the church will have the use of that money for those three months regardless.)

On one hand, I agree with Shadox. From a purely monetary standpoint, it's a no-lose promotion for the church. They can't lose. The worst that can happen is that they have to return all new contributions received through this promotion, leaving them in the same position as before.

On another hand, I agree with Jason Stell. The promise was made to Israel, not to us. Under the new covenant, we are commanded to be generous. We are to give without reservation, since all our money is God's anyway. We are just stewards of God's money. However, there is no commandment of giving 10%.

Now certainly, God may convict you to give 10%. I think God has certainly convicted FMF to give 10%. But I think that anyone who says one should give exactly 10% (or even at least 10%) is being legalistic. It's a heart issue. Are you dependent upon your own hard work to get you through life, or are you dependent upon God.

Personally, I give a small amount -- around 3%. But I don't get greedy and spend selfishly. I save most of my money and invest actively in the stock market. I figure that in a decade or two, I'll have millions of dollars that I can give away generously to important causes.

What a load of nonsense. Put the 10% in a 401K pension. Pay yourself first.

this is basically a ponzi scheme!!!

I didn't know about it. But when did God started hiring marketing managers?

What a wonderful idea - the money back guarantee that is! It really is a wonderful marketing idea.

Yes, now pastors increasingly tell preaching is akin to marketing. Now, I know it is totally marketing. I don't have anything against marketing. And, money back guarantee is one of the sharpest weapons in the arsenal of a marketer. However, I fail to recognize from when do God wants such marketing techniques.

Yeah, He sure asks you to test him in this one. Never thought, He'd appoint someone to offer money-back guarantee to test this product called Tithing.

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