Friday, December 19, 2008

Morning meditation - Money or the mission?

Their major concern appears to be hoarding their plummeting stock portfolio and so their values are perverted. I have been though this before with organziations who struggle with the dilemna of "the mission or the money", and usually the money people make a smart ass remark like, "without the money there is no mission" which just turns the participants in the organization into whores whose behavior is based strictly on the money and not other values.

For someone from my background and theological training this is one definition of sin when one's ethical compass gets perverted, diverted by mammon. It of course, is a form of idolatry and so the church has a Golden Calf, but the children of god have been marginalized and are left hungry and freezing out in the cold.

David Markham

I don't know if it is true that money is the root of all evil but Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to pass through th eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven.

And I have been in organizations who have fallen on hard times and the people who hold the purse strings come to be at odds with the people who are providing the services accusing them of being fuzzy headed do gooders and not practical and realistic enough. The money then becomes the primary consideration and it becomes worshipped as the primary consideration in the whole organizatonal enterprise. This does not bode will for the future because the mission and values which have driven the organization now become distorted, perverted and the service provision becomes prostituted on the altar of Mammon.

A mercenary attitude and value system is more acceptable in business and profit making enterprises but becomes a serious problem in human services where people, including staff, begin to be treated as objects and no longer as human beings worthy of dignity and respect.

At this point when the money becomes more important than the mission, whether it be health care, education, human service, and/or churches, these institutions and the people who are decision makers in them, enter into the realm of sin.

I have known many good people who have fallen into this trap and who have had their basic good sense and values corrupted by financial concerns. Jesus has plenty to say about this and most Christians ignore it focusing instead on sexual sins which Jesus says very little about.

Jesus drove the money changers from the temple and the curse of relgious institutions is their becoming overly enthralled with money. Good stewardship requires an accountability and good management but money is power and when it is hoarded and greedily misused, and people are hurt, ignored or abused, sin occurs.

My church is sadly in need of salvation because its values have become seriously distorted to the point where the mission has not only been distorted, it has been killed.

You can't take it with you so use it wisely while you are here. As Jesus points out in his parables tonight you may die and of what use will all your money be then?

Madonna, Material Girl, video lasts 4:44.


  1. I am one of the ones that love our building. It is the reason I came through the doors that first day. I find it interesting now that people were able to vote for the money to repair the roof. They could see the problem. The arches were crumbling. Now our church, not the building, is in equal disrepair. Our arches are crumbling. That is why we voted in 2006 to hire a minister. Maybe if the health of our church was as visible as our walls. If people could see that we are crumbling just as our walls were they would have understood and voted differently. In my minds eye I see it very clearly.

  2. Is it not possible that if money had been invested in more than just the physical structure of the church, then attendance, and in turn hopefully financial support, would have risen? In a sense, the new minister might have paid for his/herself. But that is merely a practical consideration.

    More importantly, what good is providing support to the physical structure if you are not willing to provide support to the people within? As you say, good stewardship is important, but it is too bad that the future of your church's money seems to be more deeply valued than the future of the congregation itself, the future of its people. The treasure onboard a sunken ship won't buy a thing.

  3. I like the saying "The treasure onboard a sunken ship won't buy a thing."

    The church is beautiful, but church is people not bricks and motar.

    Thanks for the comments,

    David Markham

  4. I still believe that resigning is not the answer. While it makes a statement about an individual's disappointment with the outcome of a vote, it denies the value of the democratic process, which UUs claim to believe in. I also think that applying negative labels to people with whom one disagrees only hardens the distance between "them" and "us", adding hurt feelings and anger and reducing the possibility of future harmony.

  5. Hi dd:

    I haven't heard anyone apply labels to the ones we disagree with. As Kelly Kh has pointed out, there is a difference between judgment and being judgmental. I also think that people should not mistake kindness for weakness.

    It is the judgment of some that this vote and the priority put on money at the expense of the people is a mistake in directing the future of the church. For the people with the control and power, they are free to do as they please, and as they judge to me correct. Others of us are also free to go. There is no obligation to continue to function with what is considered to be an incorrect policy.

    I have very mixed feelings about resigning as do many of the others. I think it is incumbent on the people remaining to reconsider their policy decision which has alienated so many people. If they are willing to do that there may be some hope, if not, I think the enterprise is doomed and the passengers and crew would be advised to get off the sinking ship.

    All the best,

    David Markham

  6. It seems that at PMUC the progressives were always fighting a headwind of resistance to change. It is hard and tiring to always run against the wind. I am no longer in my prime and need the wind at my back for the home stretch.
    Perhaps our leaving will inspire those who remain to work hard to succeed and build up the church. I hope so and would be the first to congratulate them for doing so. But I’m inclined to go where the wind carries me.