the weblog of Alan Knox

Sharing with those who have needs

Posted by on May 9, 2008 in blog links | 7 comments

I couldn’t help but be challenged and encouraged when I read Sarah’s (from “accidental blog“) report called “An Inspiring Financial Report/Budget” about HOME PDX, “church for those who live outside” in the Portland area. Apparently, this report originated from Ken, who received $2500 in donations. What did this group of believers do with these donations?

A partial rundown:

$700 for our friends who were burned out of their squat. Backpacks,shoes, pants, gear

$1,300 (and counting) for our young friend in a tight spot with lung cancer. Transportation, medical supplies, chewing tobacco (come on, it’s better than having him smoke), food, living expenses, etc.

$180 for a young man new in town. Sleeping bag, back pack, cell phone. (He’s indoors and has a job now.)

$280 for tools and cell phone for a carpenter with hepatitus B. He’s indoors, is healing up. He’s also connected with the carpenter’s union now.

$89 for a bus ticket to Boise for a young friend who had a job waiting there for him.

$60 to a friend in prison for toiletries (you have to buy your own soap,washcloths, shaving stuff, etc. in there)

$350 for other cell phones. It is nearly impossible to get a job or housing without one.

As I read this report, I couldn’t help but think about these passages of Scripture in which Luke describes the church immediately after Pentecost:

And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. (Acts 2:45 ESV)

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 4:34-35 ESV)

And, since I’m studying the Book of Deuteronomy for a seminar, I was also reminded of this passage:

At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do. (Deuteronomy 14:28-29 ESV)

Of course, this is not what we’re usually taught about tithing. How would the “church” ever have any money in the bank and how would they pay their employees if we gave our money to those who were in need… those who couldn’t give back in return? (Of course, some may suggest that the church employees are the equivalent of the “Levites” in the Deuteronomy passage. My response? Do we ever see that connection made in Scripture?)

Honestly… the report of the church giving away all of the donations that were given to them is very refreshing. I wonder what would happen if every church started giving away their donations to those who were in need…


7 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-9-2008

    Another great post.
    This concept is one of the many reasons our ‘church’ has taken a simple or organic model, no overhead.
    We are all able to give 100% of our giving directly where it is needed. It has been great to help people in need directly with out an extra offering.

  2. 5-9-2008

    Thanks Alan for spreading the word about Ken Loyd and HomePdx. Ken is a friend of mine and one of my heroes. For more glimpses into his street level community click on HOMEPDX stories under Labels at my blog.

  3. 5-9-2008

    Alan,

    You asked, “I wonder what would happen if every church started giving away their donations to those who were in need…”

    Because Christians, AT LAST,were SEEN to be what they SAY they are,unbelievers who know them would faint.

    Unbelievers would see LIP SERVICE become PEOPLE SERVICE which would cause them to be able to believe that Christians were truly authentic, and interested in them AS PERSONS,and, as a consequence, concerned for their spiritual welfare.

    Unbelievers would realize that REAL Christians aren’t Bible bashing scalp hunters looking for numerical and financial heads to hang on the wall.

    Unbelievers would be astonished to see the LOVE, which drove CHRIST to a cruel cross, is reflected in real Christians who genuinely love, BECAUSE God loves them.

    After they recovered, unbelievers would begin to listen more seriously to THE GOSPEL shared by people who, on the whole, loudly SAY Jesus is first, others are second, and self is last, but demonstrate something quite the opposite.

    Genuine Christians would be disciple makers, disciples would be made, and, “day by day continuing with one mind in the Body of Christ, and breaking bread from house to house, they are found sharing meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    That’s enough to get this old feller excited!

  4. 5-9-2008

    Regarding the passage from the Law… if you are going to choose to live by the OT covenant, then you cannot pick and choose the passages based on preference. It is an all or nothing Covenant.

    That being said, I think the idea that the church caring for the needs of Her people is something we have missed in the example of the early church. It something that has inspired my actions in planting a church that will be this kind of compassionate community that shares in our blessings and needs.

    None of that excludes the other clear NT practice of supporting those who gave their life to the teaching/overseeing of the church.

  5. 5-9-2008

    Oh, it just occurs to me Alan as I was reading your bio. Sometime when you get the chance, I would love to have you post your thoughts about how a post like this plays out in your personal life. How does it influence your giving?

    Also, if your post seems to suggest that it is wrong to have paid clergy. So if churches go this route and do not pay for “professional” pastors to go to our “Christian” universities (also another concept not in the Bible because people were certainly not paying professors to teach them the Bible.. that was done freely by the Apostles and Elders),… where would that leave you and other professors? I assume most people who are in your class are getting paid by a church, or plan to get paid by a church once they graduate. Do you ever feel like the institution of Christian education is propping up the institutional church? When pastors get paid by their churches to pay your school which pays your salary, do you ever feel like you are taking money from local churches that should be going to this like what you are posting on? The money that goes to educate pastors in Greek could certainly be used to distribute among those who have greater needs locally.

    What are your thoughts? Again, you don’t need to answer now, but a post on how Institutional Education and Professors have taken us away from the NT church would be interesting.

  6. 5-9-2008

    Jason,

    We’re not to the point of no overhead, but we do have very low overhead – $25-40 per person per month. Because of this, our family is able to help people in need much more.

    Pam,

    Thank you for the additional information about HomePdx.

    Aussie John,

    Wow! What a comment! I agree that if the church actually starts loving people – that is, not just saying that they love people, but demonstrating their love for people – believers and unbelievers alike will take notice.

    J.R.,

    I mentioned the passage in Deut. to show that God always intended for his people to care for those in need. I agree that if we begin to try to keep the law, we have to keep the whole law – and we cannot and will not do it.

    As far as the seminary/institutional church question, you’ve asked some great questions. I think the seminary system and institutional church system feeds one another, and depends upon one another. As for me, I make a distinction between my vocation as a web developer and teacher, and my calling to make disciples. I do not equate education with discipleship.

    -Alan

  7. 5-9-2008

    Thanks for making that clear on how you are using the passage.. and I agree it does reflect God’s heart of compassion.

    I think you are also right that education is not discipleship. If you ever decide to post your thoughts on the other parts of my comment, I will read with great interest.

    Thanks brother!