The “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” combatting Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis has been the craze on social media the past few days with people being doused all over the country. I have done my part and made a donation and so have many of you. The Challenge has worked so well that ALS research has received over $40 million dollars! Last year their total for the year was around $2 million. Wow! What if we did the same for every dread disease? As a matter of fact, I hope that’s exactly what we do. I also hope that we will remember that we must fund faith-based ministries, because without faith and hope, we’re completely sunk!
Most faith-based ministries and churches have a “Summer Slump” in terms of people’s giving habits. The ministries are year round operations and have just as many or more expenses in the summer. Most churches stay in full swing during the summer with Bible School, Youth activities, music programs, Sunday School and worship services, but a lot of people are “up and down” in their church attendance – Up in the mountains or down at the beach! Unfortunately their money goes with them and sometimes it doesn’t make it back to the church.
With the heat that we’ve been having, helping agencies and churches need our support now more than ever. I guess what I’m trying to say, as nicely as I can, is don’t forget to catch up on your giving when you return from vacation and settle back into end-of-summer routines. Every church and similar organization needs systematic givers so they can do ministry year-round without missing a beat.
I read about a woman who called up the Butterball Turkey Company’s consumer hot line and asked about the advisability of cooking a turkey that had been in her freezer for 23 years. The customer service representative told her that it might be okay to eat it if the freezer had maintained a below-zero temperature the entire time. However, the flavor would have deteriorated so much that it wouldn’t be very tasty. Said the caller, “Oh, that’s what we thought. We’ll just donate it to the church.” The church has received more than her share of “old turkeys.”
No, we don’t need to give the Lord our leftovers. God has been good to us and calls us to be faithful stewards. I personally knew a man whose family discovered after his death that he had a life insurance policy just for the church. He wanted his church to have a legacy to do future ministry. The Great Recession hasn’t ended for most of us, but there are some of us who have been blessed enough to be able to share, in life and death.
As I ponder the “Ice Bucket Challenge” and all of our charitable giving it makes me assess just how we as Americans determine our self-worth. Do we count our value to society in what we have or what we give? Do we count it in salary or sharing our “widow’s mite?” Sure, I know that there are lots of ways that people give back and pay it forward, but do we come close to following what Paul said in I Corinthians 16:1-2? Paul wanted people to plan their giving and follow through on it so that he could stick to preaching and not money mongering: “Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his or her income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”
There was a guy who thought more about his salary and fringe benefits than helping others: Reaching the end of a job interview, the human resources person asked a young engineer fresh out of MIT, ‘And what starting salary were you looking for?’ The engineer said, ‘In the neighborhood of $135,000 a year, depending on the benefits package.’ The interviewer said, ‘Well, what would you say to a package of five-weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50 percent of salary, and a company car leased every two years — say, a red Corvette?’ The engineer sat straight up and said, ‘Wow! Are you kidding?’ And the interviewer replied, ‘Yeah, but you started it.’
All joking aside, will you be missed by the church or not? I have no clue what people give and never will! I do know, however, that we need to have our own “Ice Bucket Challenge” for churches and helping agencies! Who wants to go first?