Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where Your Treasure Is

Since 815 cut the entire evangelism budget for the next three years I have been struck (and angered) by the fact that they budgeted over three million dollars for litigation in the next three years and this does not include moneys to support the "remnant" dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, and San Joaquin so that they can spend more of their locally raised money on litigation.

Jesus said that where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. It seems that TEC's treasure is in empty buildings and in doing nothing to fill them.

There are a number of issues at stake here. I think that the biggest issue is lack of Christian formation among both the clergy and the laity. Being formed to know Jesus means being formed to be an evangelist - to "proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ." We all promised to do that when we were baptized or when we renewed our own baptismal covenant at every baptism in which we participated. I doubt that too many at 815 can proclaim the good news of God in Christ because if they could, they would. The good news (gospell) is not that people gave buildings or money in perpetuity for the exclusive use of TEC. The good news is that God came among us as one of us to defeat sin and death and to pay the price for our own sins. We participate in that victory and as co-workers with God in His plan to renew (resurrect) all of creation by our baptism in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Thus our old nature is killed (and is being killed) and we are to be raised with a new nature. How can you know that good news and not work to help others understand that their struggle against sin and death has already been won and that they can work with God to continue the struggle among the rest of creation?

Also, I see the litigation and fighting to the death to own the buildings as one of the fruits of the decades long struggle. This seems to be to be the result of a "We won. You Lost. Get over it." mentality. This also belies a lack of Christian formation as this is the attitude of the political arena and not the attitude one should have with Christian brothers and sisters.

Since 815's heart is not with evangelism, but is with litigation, how can we change their hearts? I don't know that we can. But we can and should work to change the hearts of the people in our congregations and dioceses. We need to focus on teaching our people the fundamentals of the faith. We need to get them involved in Bible Study and Adult Sunday School. We need to get them involved in prayer, study, and ministry. We need to move them to an accountability group where they are accountable to each other for their Christian lives. In short, we need to concentrate more on making disciples than on adding members.

Phil Snyder


Dan said...

I'm not of your tradition, but happened by your blog by way of Google blog search. I find myself frustrated at times by my own tradition (baptist) because I see us spending money on things other than evangelism too. It's sickening really. Thank you for bringing it to light.

plsdeacon said...

Hi Dan,

Welcome to the Slant!

I don't mind spending money on things other than evangelism (staff have to be paid, land and buildings paid for, etc.), but I do mind not spending any on evangelism on the one hand and then turning around an sueing other Christians on the other hand. That strikes me as the complete opposite of what Jesus wants his church to do.

Anyway, stop by and comment as often as you like.

Phil Snyder

Tregonsee said...

The last thing which TEC can afford to cut is the litigation budget. Large as it is, it is ultimately a significant source of income. Their success rate is high, with only Virginia, for now, being a significant exception. When they are done, the rump parishes, and soon to be dioceses, are seldom viable. However the land many sit on is valuable, even in these times. The successful sale of even one large parish in California, Texas, or Colorado will pay for years of lawsuits. They are just taking the long view.

If you are looking for them to take the Christian view, you will need to look elsewhere. It is not in them to do so.

plsdeacon said...

the problem is that churches very rarely sell for what they are on the books or on the tax rolls for. The sales cycle for a church is rather long - especially for a "mainline" or "catholic style" church. The evangelical churches or mega churches all have an auditorium style to them.

So, the dioceses will have to expend quite a lot of money for maintenance of empty buildings and then will take a bath when they actually sell the buildings - particularly in the current market.

Phil Snyder

The Underground Pewster said...

What were they going to evangelize anyway? The new thang? The world might be better off without that.

Let's work on Christian formation and evangelism through a home schooling approach. I can think of only one required textbook.

Andy said...

Thanks once more for the insights Brother Phil. I fear that the TEC had their "jumping the shark" moment in this last General Convention. Now that they've voted down the Great Commission, they essentially have no divine mandate to continue as a church. I suppose there'll be a few more phyrric victories and then the last in the room will shut off the lights.

plsdeacon said...

Hi Andy,

Actually, I do think TEC is still a church - just one in very bad shape - much like the Church before Francis or Dominic - intellicutaly lazy, adicted to secular power and taking its queues from the secular world. But it seems that everytime the Church gets into this position, God raises up a prophet (such as Francis - who was a Deacon by the way) to call the Church back into relationship with her Lord.

That is part of what I am trying to do in my little neck of the woods - be that prophet that calls the Church back to her Covenant.

Phil Snyder

Andy said...

Amen Brother Phil! May our Lord raise a legion of Deacons to turn the heart of the TEC.


Joe Rawls said...

I'm definitely with you on this one.

Just Me said...

"In short, we need to concentrate more on making disciples than on adding members."

I just can't possibly think of a better suggestion!!

One of the blessings received in the parish I attend is that although we're kept aware of what is going on with TEC on a "national" level, we are kept focused on the Gospel.

An example used often is that when detectives are trained in recognizing counterfeit money, the focus is training them on recognizing real money. The more familiar they are with the real thing, the more the recognize the fakes.

That's where our focus is; learn Truth and the lies become easier to recognize.

May the LORD bless you abundantly to do the work He has given you to do, brother Phil.

Dale Matson said...

Dcn Phil,
Dropping the Evangelism budget is both a financial and theological decision. Andy is correct. TEC no longer has a vision or a mission as a church. What it is promoting is anti church. What you have said is true but God has given them over to confusion and darkness. TEC leadership is ashamed of Christ or it would honor His call to Evangelize. The irony is that God will honor this since it is God that adds numbers to the church and it is God who is leading folks away. TEC is like someone on a path of suicide. It is unwittingly driving others away.

joseph651 said...

Dcn Phil,
Only God can explain why folk like yourself are still involved with a ministry that has left the Chruch? Maybe if you revisit Exodus and see what God did to those who did not follow his commandments the Holy Word will get through all of you. You, or the layity can not change anything within TEC, all of them are on a higher level then you common folk. Please open your eyes and come back to Christ as the Bible tells us too.