James :27 (HCSB)
Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
In the business world, outsourcing is common feature of corporate life. You take something that is not your businesses core competency, or maybe you can’t do as efficiently or as cost effectively, and send it to someone else for a fee.
In the corporate world, that is fine. But what happens when this mindset starts to infiltrate our churches and personal lives?
What I have been thinking about recently is how involved, really, am I in the commission of Jesus and the commandments of God? The answer, unfortunately in some areas, is that I have outsourced my responsibility. As a whole, I think our churches (not all, but many) unwittingly encourage divorcing ourselves from much of the commission of God, by setting up programs that will ‘manage our involvement’ for us. Sure, many of these things can be more efficient, more professional, or more committed, that instead of having 500 people commit an hour, they take 10 people and give them full time jobs. But then the 490 other people are maybe just ‘throwing money’ at something, rather than being involved.
Timeout. I am NOT saying that giving to any organization, that does good in the world, is a bad thing. Don’t call up and cancel your giving right now, but instead, evaluate what you are doing and take action. Many of these organizations ARE doing good work, and that should continue.
So where am I going with this?
We need to be more personally involved in the mission of God. We need to be more personally involved in our giving, where it is going, who it is supporting, how much of it is reaching those in need and how much is being ‘eaten’ by overhead.
Let me give you a concrete example. In a previous church I was a member of, we had a ‘missions fund’ that some of the churches giving went to. So, be default, by giving to the church, I was also giving to global missions, reaching out to the poor, and preaching the Gospel to all people. Great in concept, except there is no way I could tell you who any of the missionaries or organizations were this went to, where they were, or what they did. I had happily outsourced my responsibility but retained my spiritual pride in giving.
Recently my wife and I have become much more involved in our giving. Instead of the above, whilst we still give money to the church to support the ministries there, we also look out for other ministries and opportunities to be involved personally in. Maybe we still only send a donation there, but now we know where that went, and what it went for. More than that we are able to develop a relationship with those people. We are able to pray with those people. And we are able to see that the money goes directly to those in need. Rather than ‘random money in a bucket’, with giving we are much more involved with others in the body of Christ who are doing what God has called them to.
And really, money and giving is just one step.
This can also apply to so many other areas. Instead of just arriving at church and sitting in a pew\chair\bench (and outsourcing your worship to the band and your brain to the preacher) you could be involved, be part of God’s ministry. Instead of just ‘throwing some money’ at a ministry, pray for them. Call them. Ask them if there is anything more you can do to support them.
Maybe, just maybe, it will mean rather than being inactive in the Kingdom, keeping a pew warm, you start to look at going out to the mission field yourself…
So I encourage you. Don’t outsource your Christianity, but be involved. That is the essence of the ‘church’ – the community of believers who are doing God’s will on this earth.