Pastor Alois Bell, Applebee’s and Tipping Waitresses
This week Alois Bell, a pastor in St. Louis, wrote on her Applebees receipt how she felt that giving 18% to a waitress was unjustified when she gives 10% to God. After finding that the receipt had found its way onto the internet, Pastor Bell demanded that the waitress and all the Applebees management be terminated. The story and it’s sordid details can be found here:
In regards to this, I have some thoughts on money and tithing…
What would happen if families that lost their source of income could count on the church to keep a roof over their head and keep their children fed? (What if the church at the same time wouldn’t pay for their cable bill, cell phones and internet?)
What would happen if nearly 100% of the offerings given to God on Sunday’s were in the form of food and clothing? How long would it take for a few churches to provide every child in their community with a coat and mittens? How long would it take for every family to have a healthy dinner every night?
What would happen to a community that had a few of these churches? Would people in the community drive by the church and wonder what it was there for, would they have to throw away those lame evangelism mailings or would they actually be thankful for the presence of Christians?
Some statistics that may shock you… in the United States churches own 430 billion dollars of real estate.
The cost to feed all of the impoverished people in the world for one year? It’s been estimated at about 30 billion.
Rather than looking through this perspective, our churches work in an entirely different manner. To be a leader you pay tuition and go to college; then you are interviewed, then offered a job. You are hired, paid a full time wage, and you can be fired.
Then there’s the ministry; people won’t want to be Christians unless they are entertained by good music and a great stage show. People also need to buy lots of Christian things (we are a consumerist culture after all) so we need a book store in the church and have alot of church Bible studies that require everyone to buy things for.
Churches also have tax statuses, and have to obey city laws concerning their property; and with so much funding going here and there, there has got to be an official budget and a church accountant.
Churches have to provide services to their congregants and to their community, and a church is defined as being successful based off of how many people attend and how much revenue they have. Some pastors are even profit sharers, like Joel Olsteen, and can become millionaires.
Because of all of this, churches need to have big buildings for all the people to fit into; these buildings should be comfortable and welcoming with high tech sound equipment and theatrical lighting and TV monitors.
See, churches in America are based off of a business model. Don’t believe me? Go through what I’ve written thus far and count how many times I used a business term. We don’t even blink an eye when talking about “interviewing” and “hiring” a pastor. Really, I’d say that churches are actually closer to business entities than they are charitable organizations.
Here’s a few crazy thoughts…
I propose that rather than giving money to a church that congregants give food and clothing. After all, this matches all of the Biblical precedents. Tithes were givin from crops and livestock; and when money was given it was always used to care for the poor.
I propose that every church leader also has a job in the community; and that they receive no income from the church. How is this possible you say??? Well, the New Testament model for church has nothing that resembles a “senior pastor,” rather the church was lead by a group of overseers, say 6 to 12 people. When you have 6 leaders, you don’t have a single man who’s got to figure out a sermon each week; the workload and the responsibilities are shared.
Rather than being a part of the “Spiritual Elite,” what if pastors were normal people just like everyone else? What if being “missional” to them meant handing out that Happy Meal with a smile and buying extra food for customers that could only afford the dollar menu?
What if not every pastor needed to go to seminary? What if we all admit that knowing the lexical and etymological significance of a few Hebrew and Greek words rarely increases our spiritual maturity?
What if church money wasn’t for sound equipment, lighting and salaries? What if Christians no longer tried to evangelize with glossy fliers and slick marketing but simply gave to their community and sought to meet the basic needs of every member?
If change was really happening in your community because of the actions of a local church, don’t you think you’d hear about it? Or do you really need a flyer to know that such and such church exists???
What if we really lived as a church community, rather than met at a “church building” once a week?
What if each one of us was given a check by the church… “here’s the tithe we received last week, split out evenly among you, go and bless others with it, feed the poor, care for the widows.”
What if we were all priests together?
What if being a Christian is more about giving a good tip to a waitress than about giving 10% to God?