Care for the Poor
Gary Moore is founder of the Financial Seminary and author of six stewardship books, including Look Up America!
No, but a nuanced "no." Stewardship theologians have to be as balanced as the economists about whom President Truman famously complained, saying he wanted a one-handed economist because his economists' advice began "On the one hand … on the other."
On the one hand, Jesus did immortalize the widow who gave her last mites in the temple. But on the other hand, that was more about her amazing faith than her choice of beneficiary. Someone explained once to a gathering of stewardship officers that Jesus did not say to sell what we have and give it to the temple, or even for the gospel, but to the poor. Neither did Malachi say to bring the full tithes for the operation of the temple. The storehouse was for the needy.
Those ideas, though, are not often pointed out. The church is a mostly human institution, particularly when it comes to money, and human institutions, whether governmental, corporate, or ecclesiastical, can be quite self-centered. My friends John and Sylvia Ronsvalle (emptytomb.org) have long studied how churches use donations. The Ronsvalles have a passion for giving—particularly for getting America's affluent churches to open their hands to those around our world in the greatest need. Their most recent report is not encouraging for the Christlike faces of the poor, thirsty, and naked.
The report shows that congregational giving has not kept up with our rising incomes, and benevolent giving to the poor, including denominational support, has suffered even more. I've been the board president of two affluent mainline churches and discovered ...