In the mountains of western Massachusetts the Lord has built a foundry out of which are cast all manner of instruments for His service. These hammers, these nails - these scalpels and swords were fashioned from metals made molten by the crucible of confrontation, study, independence, and community. This experience and environment is unlike any other and has provided its products a peculiar ethic and a wonderful worldview. Those of us tempered in this foundry are a league of useful soldiers and in the kingdom we are the Lenox Order of Saints.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Healthy Discontent

The practice of tithing seems to be going the way of the gray flannel suit, the top hat, and the diagrammed sentence - "nice and proper and all but. . ."  Why do you suppose the younger generations aren't signing up for a regimented program of giving that involves forking over a percentage of their pay?  Is it the ascendancy of the secular values of personal peace and affluency as Francis Schaeffer warned?  Is it the despairing of ever seeing any appreciable return on their investment?  is it a conscious or subconscious protest against the traditional institutions?  Have we just lost our nerve?

Whatever the causes - as the infrastructure of our church's income crumbles so will its actual brick and mortar construction begin to crumble as well.  When the herd is thinned over the next fifty years and most of the little steepled buildings have been sold and "repurposed" will our children find a home in the megachurches that alone remain standing?  I doubt it.  Where, then, will they meet?  How will they meet. Why will they meet at all?


  1. If our culture controls the movement of the church (in general), I doubt they will meet at all. In trying to connect the essence of church as the body of Christ, maybe not being tied down to a single building (which often has the feel of an institution) is such a bad thing. Meeting as fellow believers though, is absolutely essential! I feel your discontent.

  2. I echo the thoughts and questions in this post.

    Hopefully (and prayerfully), instilling the importance of tithing and giving in our children along with reading them the Scripture mandate will help future generations (and us as well). There are a couple of things we do in our family to show that tithing is important (and we didn't come up with them on our own, but I don't remember the source. Sorry.).

    (1) We have a "God" jar along with their piggy banks. When they complete chores that have a designated amount associated with them, they are expected to give part of what they earn to the God jar that will be put in that Sunday's offering plate.

    (2) I remember growing up seeing my parents put a check into the offering. In our church they have the option of "E-giving" where they will deduct an amount designated by the giver weekly or monthly. While this would be really convenient for me instead of writing a check and then remembering to take my checkbook to church, I think there is something to be said for children observing (and participating) in parent's regular giving/tithing. So, we have one of the kids (on a rotating basis) put the check in the offering plate.

  3. Thanks for the thoughts and insights here. Having pastored for the better part of the last fifteen years - I've begun to see the profile of the tither (the one who gives at least ten percent of their income) become older, more isolated, and more despairing. In my experience, nearly everyone gave from time to time; but the practice of tithing was seen by the same majority as a good spiritual discipline but nothing close to an obligation. With the sermon on the mount making the question of tithing a moot point given the higher challenge to the cheerful giving of all we have - it's more difficult to make tithing an imperative with a "Thus saith the Lord". I suppose I really see a crisis of giving in the years to come exacerbated by our commitment to and investment in the Sunday morning service. Buildings and salaries make up more than fifty percent of most church budgets and more than seventy-five of a whole lot more. I'm just wondering is all - wondering but not wandering!