In Part One (May 21 issue, page 26) the author said he had spent a sabbatical in 1974 visiting six thriving congregations in the western United States. He studied three in detail: Our Heritage Wesleyan Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, Calvary Chapel in Santa Ana, California, and Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California. The others he observed were Hollywood Presbyterian Church, the Mariners Church, and Grace Community Church of the Valley, all in southern California. He found three broad principles common to these congregations: they take seriously the Scriptures, the Church, and the Holy Spirit. These principles are reflected in five areas of church life. The first is church polity and leadership, and he discusses the other four in this part of the article.
A second distinctive characteristic of these churches is the way they handle finances. Without exception, money is not emphasized; there is no enlistment, no extensive appeal for funds. Needs are made known in a very quiet way. In one church there was not even the normal passing of the collection plate. Most do not have a budget in the usual sense of the word.
Most of these churches are heavily committed to mission giving. Half of the giving at Our Heritage goes to mission projects. Giving in these churches is an individual matter based on commitment to Christ. Stewardship is an integral part of the theological teaching rather than a separate item to be emphasized at a particular time of the year.
Nor is tithing promoted. This was never formally explained to me, but the impression I had was that tithing is considered an Old Testament principle and that the church is to live by the kind of giving suggested in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians—one is to give over and ...1
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