Friday, June 30, 2006

Church Options - Day 2

Yesterday I started a series of post based on the Peace, Unity and Purity (PUP) report, as approved by the General Assembly of the PCUSA. Many churches and individuals feel that the Assembly made a major mistake and that the approved report will seriously harm the denomination. This series focuses on possible courses of action these churches can take.

Second Option A – Fight with Your $$$ “Light”

The PCUSA has long used its financial investments as a way to influence the actions of major corporations. The PCUSA will not own Boeing stock due to Boeing’s contract work for the military. Local congregations have followed this lead and have withheld their financial contributions to the denomination when a church’s Session disagreed with denominational policies. Typically, “mission dollars” are withheld. The church then gives their mission dollars by “designating” where those dollars are to go. A church that uses this option (Fight with Your $$$ “Light”) could “designate” their giving to Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly mission causes based on the beliefs of the local Session.

Positive Aspects of this Option

1. The local church is using the same “strategy” as the investment group of the denomination (MRTI).

2. The church still supports “mission” in the PCUSA.

Negative Aspects of this Option

1. The “mission” of the church suffers—not the agencies of the denomination!!

2. There is no assurance that this option will be effective.

Second Option B – Fight with Your $$$ “Hardball”

In this option the local church again tries to influence the denomination with their dollars. This strategy is design for MAXIMUM impact. If this option is employed in a wide-spread, denomination wide effort by groups opposed to the PUP report it will have a catastrophic impact on the PCUSA. This option would have the local church giving NO MONEY to the PCUSA—period! The congregations would not give Per Capita or mission dollars to PCUSA entities (this would include Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly). Congregations could give their “mission” dollars directly to mission causes that they support. Imagine the impact of this option if affinity groups (such as the Confessing Church Movement, New Wineskins, Presbyterian Coalition, Presbyterians for Renewal, etc.) were to implement this strategy. Presbyteries, Synods and the General Assembly would be financially crippled. The pressure on General Assembly to change their decision on the PUP report would be overwhelming. A special meeting of the Assembly could be called to reverse the PUP decision. Failure of the Assembly to act would result in wide-spread layoffs at all levels of the denomination.

Positive Aspects of this Option

1. Once again, local churches would be using a strategy that our denomination uses with its investments.

2. I believe that it would force the General Assembly to act ASAP. The General Assembly would find out that the local churches will not tolerate Assembly decisions that move the denomination in particular directions without allowing the Presbyteries to vote on the changes.

3. Failure of the Assembly to act would show that the leadership of the denomination is truly out-of-step with the people in the pew.

Negative Aspects of this Option

1. Churches and groups that implement this option could be viewed in a very negative way by the “middle” of the denomination.

2. Good people will lose their jobs.

3. Missionaries will still experience financial difficulties; however, those difficulties could be shorter in duration than in the “light” form of this option.

Option B (either “light” or “hardball”) would only be effective if implemented in a wide-spread manor throughout the denomination. I just don’t see this happening.


At 6:05 PM , Anonymous Larry said...

Fighting with $$$ "Light" is a non-starter as the receiving entities can equalize a church's designated contributions.

Fighting with $$$ "Hardball" is the only effective way to reform the mess.

1. Yes, the churches on the left will be upset and call us nasty names. Martin Luther put his life on the line when he opposed indulgences.

2. Yes, some good people might lose their jobs. But before we get too sympathetic, it would be important to list the names of those "good" staffers. Facts are important. Who would make the "good" staffer list in Louisville?

3. Most of the now less than 300 missionaries would be protected as their funding comes mainly from the endowments and trusts that have clauses designating the income only goes to missionary workers. Also, there are many missionaries not doing missionary work, but are political activists disguised as missionaries.

4. Yes, Presbytery driven New Church Developments may need to be put on hold. Given the dismal track record of NCD's, that might be a good thing to do anyway until new models of NCD are introduced. For example, if a church stopped sending $100,000 to the denomination, that church could create a satellite sanctuary in their community with intentions of being the mother church to new offspring every 10 years or so.

5. Churches have been sending money to presbyteries, synods, GA and GA Special Offerings for the past 40 years and what have they received in return. Nothing. The people who received and used that money have overseen the loss of 50% of the membership and there is no end in sight. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting better results that do not happen is the definition of insanity.

At 8:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I concur with Larry.

For now, I am advocating for this particulat, 'starve the beast' strategy.

We will see how many will actually do this and if it works....

At 9:33 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a missionary in the field, I am appalled at how uninformed a choice this is. We are working hard here--NOT AS POLITICAL ACTIVISTS but as teachers, pastors, counsellors, and many other support jobs. For very little money, in US terms anyway. What you are proposing is in effect cutting the support staff, leaving us stranded in the field with no one to go to in an emergency, no support if we encounter a tough situation or a crisis, and no funds to do our jobs.

Maybe you should visit the people in Louisville before making judgments about them. I'm tempted not to do the same for you because I found your comments to be so vitriolic and uninformed. if you are pastors, I am ashamed of the pastorate in our church.

At 10:18 AM , Blogger Pastor Lance said...

Dear Anonymous,
My intention IS NOT to harm the mission folks around the world. I advocated sending our $$$ directly to the mission agencies around the world.

What would you suggest that we do? I don't understand how General Assemblies can continue to vote in ways that are directly opposed to what the VAST MAJORITY of folks in the pews believe about the Bible, Christianity, ordination, etc. This time they changed the rules through an "Authoritative Interpretation" that we can't even vote on! The only thing they seem to respond to is the withholding of $$$. If you have a suggestion please let me know.

One of the missionaries our church supports worshipped with us a couple of weeks ago. When he heard of the GA decision regarding teh AI he was appalled. He said that there may be good folks "behind the wheel" of the General Assembly but that their decisions are going to cause our denomination to crash.


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