Friday, February 15, 2013

The Church Needs Tithing - and Fast Offerings - and a Corporate Component

There has never been a "successful" organization of ANY kind in the history of the world that wasn't successful at raising enough money to continue its existence. There has never been a successful church that didn't "fund raise" in some manner. With any organization that has philanthropic giving as part of its mission, cash influx must be greater than cash outflow in order to be successful in carrying out its mission to give.

I have no problem with disagreements about "how" the Church uses its money, but I can't complain about it having a corporate component - especially if that corporate component allows it to use its members' donations to fund meetinghouses, temples, colleges, missionary work, etc. and to feed, clothe, house and otherwise bless the poor and suffering. Frankly, and this is just me being me, I also want its corporate component to be profitable - specifically so it doesn't have to tap into its donations during difficult financial times simply to survive.

One last thing just for perspective:

Many people use the failed bank attempt of Joseph's day as "proof" that he wasn't really a prophet (since they believe God would have helped a real prophet know how to invest the Church's money successfully), while many of those same people use the Church's current financial success as "proof" that our current leaders aren't really prophets (since God would use the Church's financial success differently or not allow it to be so successful financially in the first place). In this case, the issue isn't the Church's financial condition; it's the outlook of the people evaluating it.

That alone is worth recognizing and considering.


Matthew said...

For me, the issue is that the church is an organization at all, let alone one worth tens of billions of dollars.

Perhaps I am reaching for more than we are ready for, but if one imagines the US government seizing all the assets and properties of the church, leaving the institution penniless, the Restoration could quite happily continue along with nothing more than people's willingness to continue to believe.

I think that we conflate the corporate church with far too many other things these days, and I wonder if it is to our detriment. At the end of the day, the functional value of tithing (minus a priestly class to feed, such as the Levites) is to accomplish the Lord's work - bringing to pass our immortality and eternal life. Whether that tithing is given to the church, to other organizations, to those in need directly, seems to me to be mistaking the messenger for the message.

In any case, a thought provoking post, Ray.

Papa D said...

"the issue is that the church is an organization at all"

Yeah, at the risk of sounding heretical to some people, there is a difference between the LDS Church and the Church of God as described in places in our scriptures - and the Restoration of the Gospel is very different in important ways than the Restoration of the (organizational) Church. I'm not saying the Gospel could have been restored without the creation of an organizational church through which the Restored Gospel could be taught, but they still are different from each other.

"At the end of the day, the functional value of tithing (minus a priestly class to feed, such as the Levites) is to accomplish the Lord's work."

Amen, Matthew.

ji said...

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but I am not a member of a corporation. The pastoral church (stakes and wards) is wholly voluntary. The general church does use corporations to carry out the work of the church, but those corporations ARE NOT the church -- the church is far bigger and separate.

Officers of the general church organize corporations to own land and buildings and so forth, but those corporations ARE NOT the church. The authority of the First Presidency in ecclesiastical matters is wholly disconnected from the Corporation of the President (which collects the tithing). The ecclesiastical authority of the Presiding Bishop is wholly disconnected from the Corporation of the Presiding Bishopric (which owns the meetinghouses in the U. S.).

Yes, if the economy collapsed and the government collapsed and all corporations became meaningless, the pastoral church would still exist -- if a ward lost its meetinghouse, it could still meet in homes or other places -- the priesthood of the bishop and stake president would be unaffected by a corporation failure.

The corporations are needed -- to manage the money and own the land and employee the curriculum workers and so forth -- but the corporations are not the Church.

Papa D said...

ji, just curious:

Do you think this post disagrees with your comment?

That's a sincere question, since I'm not sure.

ji said...

No -- but so often we conflate the corporation with the church (and we err in doing so) and your posting was good to read.