Leadership Courage Series # 24

Here’s a final look at the 80/20 Rule and its connection to the culture of cowardice in the North American Church.  And, it may be hard to hear.

Could it be that a distorted substitute for biblical grace has taken the Church?

Consider how little the Church asks of Christians… in the name of “grace”.

And, consider the abundance of resources we make available to Christians who are expected to contribute next to nothing in return.  Churches, in general, are so transfixed with providing for their own that they have little time, energy, and resources with which to be “the Church” to the unchurched.

Think about it:  Baby dedications.  Baptisms.  Child care.  Mom’s nights out.  Children’s ministry.  Youth group. Relationship counseling.  College and career ministry.  Pre-marital classes.  Weddings.  Marriage counseling.  Divorce recovery.  Grief counseling.  Financial management seminars.  Debt counseling.  Bereavement care. Memorial services.  Our churches provide cradle-to-grave services to the saved— most of which are free of any call that the recipients contribute their time, energy, or money to the community of faith from which they take, take, take.

Is it any wonder that fewer than 10% of church-dwellers tithe?

Ever attended a church while it undertook a major capital campaign?

What happened?

For a capital campaign to succeed, two things have to occur: those who already give must dig deep and give more—usually a lot more—and they often do. And also, those who rarely give and who only gesture at giving are called upon to sacrifice as well—and there’s where the commotion commences…

Doesn’t it?

A capital campaign–like the claims of Lordship that Jesus so clearly articulates–calls each of us to painful sacrifice.  In Matthew 10:38, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, and 14:27 the gospels record Jesus’ clearly: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Yet, in our commitment to be visitor-sensitive, we communicate in dozens of ways that such cross-bearing is optional.   Not expected.  And, certainly not insisted upon.  And then, when we finally call our people – all of them – to get in the game in a sacrificial way, many of them pack up and leave for another church.  Or, no church at all.

Don’t they?

And, look where all this visitor-sensitivity has got us.  Do you see maturing disciples all around you?

Do you?

My friends were approved by Habitat for Humanity a number of years ago.  Working the graveyard shift in a manufacturing plant, driving a cab, and doing odd jobs whenever he could still wouldn’t provide the down payment my buddy would need to own a home. Habitat, however, had a pathway to home ownership.

Richard and his wife Jackie, donated their time – lots of it – to help other Habitat recipients build their homes over a period of months and years.  Then, when the time came to work on their home, dozens of others were there to help out.

Many of us who love them pitched in as well. It was a blast.  Rewarding.  Resourceful.  Empowering.  Richard and Jackie had “skin in the game”.  They got far more than a home.  They invested themselves in their home in a way that changed them.

Why doesn’t Habitat just hand out homes?  They could.  They could use a lottery system to select the fortunate few who’d get a nice new Habitat house for free.  But they don’t.

Know why?

Because, getting a house for nothing doesn’t change people. Doesn’t develop character.  Strengthen confidence.  Shift one’s self-perception.  Not really. Not like Richard and Jackie’s did.

Pastor, if you’re in the disciple-making business then you’re in the business of changing people. Changing people into the image of Christ.  Provoking people to live and love and give and care and serve the way Jesus did—motivated by what motivated him.

And, that rarely happens when you keep handing people fish.

You might have read, back in installment # 16 of this Series, I was struggling my way through a character-development workshop in Honolulu with Dan, my trainer and mentor.  Dan’s life-changing counsel:

Kirk, we’re not here to give people fish.

We’re not here to teach them to fish.

We’re here to provoke their hunger.

Are you?