The 4 Reasons People Give to their Church

During my 30 years in ministry, I’ve discovered that people give to their church for 4 primary reasons.

1. Obedience-because the Bible teaches it, they believe and practice it.

2. Challenge-some are motivated by big vision and challenge.

3. Reason-it costs the church money to run, so some give because it makes sense.

4. Compassion- touching their heart through a need motivates others to give.

What other reasons have you seen that motivates Christians to give?

I’ve unpacked these motivations in the post below. It’s a rather long post.

When Faith calls out from a Pediatric ICU

The frigid temperature caused me to catch my breath and I squinted as my pupils adjusted to the intense lighting.   After hearing the respirator’s rhythmic sound, I glanced into the room to my right. I felt the sadness of two red-eyed parents as they gingerly held their child’s hand.  My heavy heart became heavier still as I entered the rarified world of a pediatric intensive care unit.

The surgeon had just completed my youngest daughter’s third brain surgery.  A few weeks prior, Tiffany had memorized a Scripture that she claimed for this surgery.  As a result, my wife and I soon received an unforgettable lesson in faith.

As we approached the curtained cubicle to our left we found Tiffany bundled under several white hospital blankets.  As I viewed the clear plastic tubes protruding from her head, nose and arms, my eyes filled with tears.  As she awakened our eyes locked.  Then in a pained, raspy voice she whispered these words: Fear not, for I am with Thee, the theme verse she had chosen from Isaiah 43:5 (KJV).

Those spontaneous words of simple faith from a five year old indelibly etched themselves into my heart.  My faith has never been the same since.

This incident occurred over 15 years ago. Tiffany has undergone another brain surgery since then as well as several other surgeries. She lives today and is a testimony to God’s grace.

Do Pastors Wield Too Much Power?

Recently during our weekend services I realized how much power I wielded as a pastor. I’ve served in vocational ministry over 30 years, and I knew intuitively that my position brought with it power over people, but not until recently did I understand a unique power my position carried.

When I say ‘power’ I don’t mean destructive power seen in high profile mega-church pastor melt-downs or in the abuse cases in the Catholic church. Peter eloquently reminds us in the following verse not to misuse our position.

1Pet. 5.2 (NLT-SE) Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.  3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.

Rather, I mean power to bless others. These simple interactions I’ve recorded below helped me realize this influence I carry.

  • In one Saturday evening service as I chatted with a couple with two young daughters, out of the blue the mom said, “You want to hear my daughter quote the names of the presidents of the United States?” I replied, “Sure.” As I knelt down, the kindergartener quoted them. I replied with, “Wow, that’s super. Good job.” The following Sunday the grandmother beamed with pride as she recounted that brief encounter. Her kids had told her about it.
  • That same Sunday as I talked with a single mom, she said, “My daughter made straight A’s this year. She’s one of the top five students in her school.” I looked at her daughter and said something like, “Way to go. Keep up the good work.” I could tell that my simple affirmation encouraged that mom, and the daughter as well.
  • The same weekend during my improv class get-together on a Saturday, I complimented several in the group on how well they performed. Most of those in my class don’t go to church and they all know I’m a pastor (and they still like me). Yet, I could sense that my genuine compliments meant a great deal to each of them.

As I’ve done the proverbial “put two and two together” I now realize more than ever that our position gives pastors a power to bless others in a unique way. Although everybody has that same ability, I wonder if other people give greater weight to our blessings (or lack of) than they do others. If that’s true, perhaps we should bless others a lot more than we do.

What do you think?

  • Do pastors wield this kind of beneficent power?
  • Am I overstating this influence?
  • Do pastors use it enough?
  • Can and do pastors misuse it for their own ends?

I’d love to hear from you.

What this Twit-a-holic learned when his account got SUSPENDED!

Account Suspended

This account is currently suspended and is being investigated due to strange activity.

________________________________________________________________

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this message from Twitter!

Me, Charles Stone, who loves puppies, drives the speed limit, and secretly wants to be a Wal-Mart security guard to catch people really doing bad stuff… had my account suspended for STRANGE ACTIVITY.

Over the next several days I went through the process of grief that included …

  • denial (this can’t be happening to me, I’m a pastor) to
  • guilt (what did I do wrong, I’m a pastor) to
  • anger (how dare they, did I say I’m a pastor) to
  • depression (how can I make it without reading about the mundane details of total strangers) to
  • loneliness (how can my several thousand followers whom I’ve never met and never will make it through a day without hearing about important details of MY life like, ‘I’m eating an Asiago cheese bagel in the third booth on the left at Panera Bread restaurant”) to
  • acceptance (I will live; I can always post on Facebook) to
  • hope (my social networking guru friend John Zimmerman with eRocketFuel assured me that Twitter would restore my account after a few days).

So, my life is now back to normal since I’m back on Twitter.

I’m sure all you Twitterers in Twitterland have been agonizing since I’ve been gone. Have no fear … I am here. I’m ok. You’re ok.

Here’s what I learned.

  • Life does go on without Twitter.
  • Getting suspended is not a venial nor a mortal sin.
  • I should be grateful for the free service Twitter offers.
  • I must be careful about churning–added and unadding followers too quickly
  • The suspension helped me realize I was hooked to Twitter
  • When I get hooked, I waste precious time that should be spent on other more important things.

If you’ve been ever been suspended, I’d love to hear what you learned.