If you could pinpoint the primary goal of the church you attend, what would that goal be? Why do churches exist? Is it for the increasing numbers on the church roll? Is it for the money? Are we, as the Lord's church, giving our world a false impression for our existence?
Churches may be to blame for this, if they are more interested in the numbers than they are in being used by God to cultivate disciples. That is when we come up with churches full of members who have an altered concept of spiritual priorities. An example of this can be seen in the number of church members who feel like, "the church only wants my warm body to fill the pew on Sunday, and my money to fill the collection plate." Lord, forgive us if that is the way we have made people feel in your church.
The church's stance on warm bodies filling the pew on Sunday should be in line with the biblical pattern of Christians joining in a fellowship of worship and praise. It is actually saved people getting together to encourage each other and glorify God. It's not about what we wear or what we drive to church. It's not a social club where our presence will make us recognized as a vital part of the community. It's not a place to be seen to promote our business income. It's a place for God's people and other sinners to gather and experience the presence of the Father while giving him praise for his love and grace.
As far as the collection plate is concerned, yes, churches need funds to operate and pay the bills. They need dollars to maintain the physical structure of the church as well as those invisible things the church does in support of missions, teaching children, counseling the hopeless, and numerous ministries to serve the community and world. And when are we going to get in through our heads that everything we have and everything we are already belongs to God anyway, and the gift we put in the plate on Sunday is a demonstration of our love toward him and our neighbors?
If you are familiar with the biblical region of Macedonia, you know those people were poor. Long before entitlement programs people who could not afford to live, usually died. Paul describes them in 1 Corinthians 8:2, "They have been going through much trouble and hard times." But Paul continues his description of the Macedonians, "their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing in the gift for the Christians in Jerusalem." How do people with so little give so much? Paul answers that in the following verse.....and that's the lesson we all need to learn.
"Best of all, they went beyond our highest hopes, for their first action was to dedicate themselves to the Lord and to us for whatever directions God might give them." 1 Corinthians 8:5 (NLT) When we are truly dedicated to the Lord and to his work, God blesses us with the resources to accomplish his will.