Some comments on the money thing from Frank Dorian:
I'd like to share a few stories. The first is from Tony Campolo. If you know anything about Tony you can picture his gruff New York accent. "I teach sociology at St. Davids. One year I had 8 Jewish students in my class. By the end of the year they had all given their lives to Jesus. One night there was a knock on my door. Two of those Jewish students had come to visit me. When you're at my house we don't get too far before we start talking about the church. Anyways these guy's asked me, "Mr Campolo, do you have insurance." I said "of course I do." They continued, " How do you line up insurannce with Matt 6 when it says take no thought for tomorrow." "Well, I protested, I have a wife and family, If I don't take care of them then who will." These two new converts to the living Christ simply said, "The church." How do you tell two new and excited Christians that the best you can expect from the church is a 50 dollar gift certificate from the deacon's board."
Churches everywhere have money for million dollar structures, to pay for Sunday school materials, for pastor's salaries, for conferences but so very little for those who are widow's, those who are hungry, those who are thirsty, those who are homeless..... and so on. Any church I have been to never had money in their budget for the poor.
The second story comes out of the 40's from Clarence Jordan. It seems that a certain church had an extra $25000. They had to decide what to do with it. In that same town half of the residents did not have running water. They decided to build a revolving fountain on their church lawn. "I was thirsty and ye built me a revolving fountain."
If you look at Jordan Cooper's site he has a picture of a 193 million dollar Roman Catholic building. Jordan Cooper wonders what 193 million dollars could do for the poor in L.A.. If the site of such a building does not sicken you than I guess nothing else will. I ask you this question. Has Jesus or Paul asked us to build any building (Let alone $193,000,000 structures) to house us. Did Jesus instruct us to feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, shelter the homeless the orphan, care for the widow. You know the answer. Then why have we turned it around? Why does 80-95% of our money go into these very things........ and very little to the poor.
Now there is a teaching that Jesus gave that answers the question to radical giving. He was talking to the rich man about selling his possessions. the rich man couldn't do it. The disciples asked a startling question. We have left all and followed. What do we get. Jesus said, "He who has done that will receive many brothers and sisters and lands and farms and animals and cars and houses in this life and the world to come." This was not a teaching on prosperity gospel but on community. This is how we live in a more radical manner. Our trust is not in people nor community but in the living God Himself. But God gives us community to help and sustain and encourage us.
Finally If the church does not begin to see itself as a community of faith, a community, family and continues in it's institutional ways we will continue to focus in on the minors like church buildings and will continue to ignore the widow, the orhan...........
Tom Sine: The earl believers did not view church as somewhere you go to once a week. It was a living breathing community that met from house to house, breaking bread, felowshipping all centered in the worship of the living Christ.
A quote from one of my articles: God creates a community of people that love, serve and worship him, but man always creates an institution for us to serve.