Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The $25,000 Questions

Plural.

Because that's what it boils down to.

Backstory: Recently, Bellevue Baptist Church donated $25,000 to First United Methodist Church, a church in downtown Memphis whose building and infrastructure was savaged in a fire. Pastor Gaines suggested the idea of a donation to the Bellevue Finance Committee, and the result was a contribution to First United.

Some individuals who harbor an anti-Bellevue sentiment (and, quite frankly, some who do not) have questioned the wisdom of such a donation. After a good deal of prayer, personal reflection, and consultation with friends, the only thing I can condemn about the donation is that it just might not have been enough.

For those up in arms about giving money to a church with a female pastor, to a church that refuses to call people to repent of certain Biblically-defined sins (particularly those of a sexual nature), here are some questions you must ask anyone to whom you offer help in the future:

1) Do you believe in everything I believe in?

2) And not just the "non-negotiables," such as how to be saved--do you share all my doctrines?

3) If I find out later that you don't completely agree with me on everything, would you mind terribly if I pull the rug out from under you?

Keep in mind, these questions have to extend to everything from financial assistance to changing a tire to giving directions.

When we see people in legitimate need--particularly brothers and sisters in Christ--our job is to help, not to run a background check. When Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, it's worth noting in His story that the Samaritan didn't share all the wounded man's beliefs; he just did what was right.

--Mike

25 comments:

Psalm 43:3 said...

Yes, giving church funds to another church (whatever the denomination) who actively supports abortion goes against the convictions, not preferences, of most of Bellevue's members. I think it is amazingly clear where Dr. Rogers stood on the issue.

You are right in that you can be as pro-homosexual and pro-abortion as anyone on the planet and be a member of Bellevue, but why would you want to?

FUMC was fully insured. They did not need Bellevue's money and there were many other ways we could have helped them without giving them $25K.

Mike Bratton said...

Psalm 43:3 said...
Yes, giving church funds to another church (whatever the denomination) who actively supports abortion goes against the convictions, not preferences, of most of Bellevue's members. I think it is amazingly clear where Dr. Rogers stood on the issue.


So, sometimes it's OK to appeal to what Pastor Rogers said, and sometimes it isn't?

And again, if you're of this opinion regarding "church funds," you must--to be consistent--be of the same opinion regarding your own personal funds.

Visited Wal-Mart lately? Agree with everything they're giving money to?

How does Target behave as a corporate citizen? Are you 100% in agreement with them?

And how about Kroger? JC Penney? Logan's?

FUMC was fully insured. They did not need Bellevue's money and there were many other ways we could have helped them without giving them $25K.

Has First United seen any insurance company checks yet? I don't know. Do you?

And I don't disagree--there were a number of ways to be of assistance, but the Finance Committee chose this one. At the end of the day, it's the responsibility of First United to use Bellevue's contribution wisely.

--Mike

MKW said...

Another viewpoint, for what it's worth. Bellevue regularly supports the Church Without Doors ministry by supplying noonday meals and worship services on Sundays on a rotating basis. Many of our members participate in this ministry, and those who do so on a regular basis will be quick to tell you that they see the same faces, month after month, year after year. The life of the homeless, one none of us would envy, is characterized by regularly visiting the same "handout spots" on a daily basis, and FUMC's ministries provided one of those sources for these individuals. Before I deleted all of my comments from the NBBCOF blog, I had offered the comment that I am simply trusting (yes, I'm that naive) that NONE of the donation from BBC will be used to further Satan's agenda, but that every penny will be used as an investment in the lives of needy people who stand to benefit from it the most -- not necessarily from just another handout, but perhaps the sustenance that it will take to keep them alive until they DO hear the gospel in some other venue. Is it totally outside the realm of possibility, for those who see this donation as a mistake (and I do not) to simply pray for God's grace to cover that donation, direct it, and use it for His glory? "By His grace and for His glory ..." -- where have I heard that before?

Also, to the person who suggested that this donation would have been more appropriately directed toward IMPACT ministries if we "just wanted to help the homeless," the downtown homeless are a totally different demographic than the poor in Frayser. We should neglect neither.

29 said...

mike,

Sometiems in order for a church to spiritually or doctrinally "heal" they need the love of other Christians. Which is more likely to draw dialogue from the methodest church, cheering the burning of their church or helping them? Strange, some would feel better giving their money to the world than to confused Christians. By helping a hurting church (hurting in more than one way) Bellevue is building Bridges that may one day be very valauble to the Kingdom.

If any of the church's in Revelation 2-3 had burned down, would it have been wrong to help them? no. because we belive God redeems and never gives up on His church.

Anonymous said...

LIFE CHOICES RESPONDS

The time has come for the Board of Directors and staff of Life Choices to make our position clear regarding the recent gift of $25,000.00 from Bellevue Baptist Church to the First United Methodist Church. Although we are non-denominational, many of our staff, directors, volunteers and donors are members of Bellevue. Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that statements speculating about our position have been made on the web and in conversations around the church community.

On Friday, November 17, 2006, leadership representing the staff, the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, and the Advisory Committee of Life Choices, who are also Bellevue members, met with leadership from the church to express our deep disappointment and concern regarding this unfortunate decision. We sympathize with the members of the church that burned, and we acknowledge that they minister to the underserved in our community. However, we cannot support the decision to give this money based on what we know of the positions that the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church takes that conflict with our beliefs on issues that are at the heart of our ministry.

It is our hope that in the future the leadership of Bellevue Baptist Church will be more thoughtful and prayerful when making decisions of this nature.

Life Choices, Inc.

Anonymous said...

Visited Wal-Mart lately? Agree with everything they're giving money to?

How does Target behave as a corporate citizen? Are you 100% in agreement with them?

And how about Kroger? JC Penney? Logan's?

Are you seriously suggesting that making purchases at any of these establishments is the same as giving a tithe? Because it seems to me that any person who [out of love and obedience to God] gives back TO GOD that first portion of their earnings -- and does so through the local church they have chosen to be a part of...that they shouldn't have to worry whether or not they money they've given will be used to support abortion or homosexulality or any other thing they don't care to support, being that they have alligned themselves with a body of believers [okay - lets just say it : Southern Baptists] - whose governing tenets would not in any way support those things. I'm sorry, but enTRUSTING your tithe to the Church to be used for God's work is not the same as purchasing toilet paper or buying a burger. In the first scenario, there's a relationship - a mutuality of belief and conviction has brought various people together to form a body of like-minded worshipers -- working together to help effect change in the world and in their community. Where there is such trust, there should also be accountability. Your gas station, grocery store, mechanic...[etc.] doesn't fall into that same category and cannot be held to those standards.

Mike Bratton said...

Are you seriously suggesting that making purchases at any of these establishments is the same as giving a tithe? Because it seems to me that any person who [out of love and obedience to God] gives back TO GOD that first portion of their earnings -- and does so through the local church they have chosen to be a part of...that they shouldn't have to worry whether or not they money they've given will be used to support abortion or homosexulality or any other thing they don't care to support, being that they have alligned themselves with a body of believers [okay - lets just say it : Southern Baptists] - whose governing tenets would not in any way support those things.

The check given to First United was not--let me stress, not--drawn from tithes and offering, but rather from the Benevolence Fund.

And the money was not given to "support" any of the things you've listed, whoever you are. It was given to be kind.

I'm sorry, but enTRUSTING your tithe to the Church to be used for God's work is not the same as purchasing toilet paper or buying a burger. In the first scenario, there's a relationship - a mutuality of belief and conviction has brought various people together to form a body of like-minded worshipers -- working together to help effect change in the world and in their community. Where there is such trust, there should also be accountability. Your gas station, grocery store, mechanic...[etc.] doesn't fall into that same category and cannot be held to those standards.

Then tell that to the people who want to boycott Wal-Mart because they've given funds to a group representing homosexual employees.

And the comparison wasn't about tithing, but rather about the difficulties involved in complaining that church funds are being disbursed in error, yet not managing personal funds with the same standard.

--Mike

Anonymous said...

Mike
Someone maybe you need to point out to the governing body of life choices that they are sooo wrong to oppose Bellevues gift to Fumc.
It appears you needd
to set them straight.
After reading about you Walmart logic maybe we should not fight against abortions at all, because as you have so brilliantly pointed out,if we shop at walmart,sams,target or any store we are supporting abortion, gay marriage ect. thank you Mike for setting the entire world straight

Mike Bratton said...

After reading about you Walmart logic maybe we should not fight against abortions at all, because as you have so brilliantly pointed out,if we shop at walmart,sams,target or any store we are supporting abortion, gay marriage ect. thank you Mike for setting the entire world straight

I quote myself thusly, and like so: "And the comparison wasn't about tithing, but rather about the difficulties involved in complaining that church funds are being disbursed in error, yet not managing personal funds with the same standard."

--Mike

Anonymous said...

what is your opinion about the life choices decission disagree with the gift are they misguided too

Just My Opinion said...

I am surprised at your compassion for FUMC where the leadership takes moral positions which most at Bellevue would disagree. But you have no compassion for some fellow believers at Bellevue of which you disagree on policy positions. Is policy more important than morality?

Mike, it is more important to do right than be right....your postings are all about your attempt to be right. You've taken the wrong side of this issue but yet allow your pride to strengthen your hold. I could easily paint you as a pro-choice supporter as you paint your broad brush of fellow believers with colors of anti-Bellevue.

Anonymous said...

Just my opinion
I could easily paint you as a pro-choice supporter as you paint your broad brush of fellow believers with colors of anti-Bellevue.
----------------------------------
Your opinion is subjective and wrong, thus you are not entitled to it.

Mike Bratton said...

Just My Opinion said...
I am surprised at your compassion for FUMC where the leadership takes moral positions which most at Bellevue would disagree. But you have no compassion for some fellow believers at Bellevue of which you disagree on policy positions. Is policy more important than morality?


Your mischaracterization derails your post, whoever you are.

I "have no compassion for some fellow believers at Bellevue"?

That is a lie.

Mike, it is more important to do right than be right....

I believe I already made that point. Thank you for agreeing with me.

your postings are all about your attempt to be right.

And just as I told someone on the Forum who committed a similar faux pas, attempting to psychoanalyze those with whom you disagree is poor form.

You've taken the wrong side of this issue but yet allow your pride to strengthen your hold.

And you have yet to illustrate, via discussion or debate (hey, that rhymes!), what the "right side" is.

Is every recipient of assistance from the Benevolence Fund, whether institution or individual, supposed to be doctrinally vetted before receiving help?

I could easily paint you as a pro-choice supporter

You could try.

You'd fail miserably and be accountable to God for your knowing distribution of falsehoods, but you could try.

as you paint your broad brush of fellow believers with colors of anti-Bellevue.

One.

More.

Time.

I quote myself thusly, and like so: "Bellevue Baptist Church has been used of God for over a century in ministering the Gospel to those who need to hear it. I would suggest it is possible to be dissatisfied with the way the church has been, or is, operating without engaging in behavior that damages the church as a whole. Such behavior as we see is anti-Bellevue, though I seriously doubt the heart of anyone engaging in such behavior is."

Again, whoever you are, I have never referred to an individual as "anti-Bellevue," but to a mindset. It's a simple distinction to make, and to understand.

--Mike

Anonymous said...

what is your opinion about the life choices descsion disagre with the gift or are they misguided too

Mike Bratton said...

Anonymous said...
what is your opinion about the life choices descsion disagre with the gift or are they misguided too


I'm researching their statement, thanks.

--Mike

Anonymous said...

what is there to research??
just read their letter. of course knowing you you will disagree with them simply they disagre with SG and you could never disagree with him you believe in blind loyality

Mike Bratton said...

Anonymous said...
what is there to research??


Facts.

just read their letter. of course knowing you you will disagree with them simply they disagre with SG and you could never disagree with him you believe in blind loyality

As opposed to slurs.

--Mike

Bellevue Friend said...

With respect to the money given to the Methodist Church, I believe that benevolence money given by God's people to Bellevue should be distributued to organazions that hold to a similar Biblical World View.

While I agree that it was intended as an act of kindness, it also supports a Church and Pastor who in many key Biblical issues, wiullfully stand in stark contrast to cherished and deeply held Biblical convictions of Bellevue's people!

The Methodist Church of 100 years ago would be very similar to the Bellevue of today.....but sadly not now.

A_Peasant_in_the_Pew said...

Mike….it is hard for me to believe it, but finally we agree on something! I applaud the $25,000 donation to First United Methodist Church. Did I miss somewhere in the Good Samaritan story that we are supposed to ask if he is a Baptist in good standing before offering help!

Thank you, Pastor Gaines, for making the recommendation, and thank you to the Finance Committee for acting upon his recommendation.

Now, before we get too warm and fuzzy, let me say, we still have some issues to deal with but I pray that as the worms are exposed, the apple will be purged!

FinanceGuy said...

Peasant,
Your and Mike's analogy with the Good Samaritan falls apart quickly under scrutiny.
If this were that story in the Bible, the Good Samaritan wouldn't have been able to reach the helpless man because of other people tripping over themselves to help. This community response as whole, as well as FUMC's insurance company, has been overwhelming. They did not need our money.

We should have shown our sympathy and support in other ways, LIKE WE ALREADY DO by supporting the Church Without Doors ministry!!!!!
This donation was insensitive to a lot of conservative, Bible believing Christians. Based on conversations I've had with people involved, I'm sure we will hear an apology in the next week or so. Question is, once that happens, will you and Mike both still stand by your statements?

If we want to be the Good Samaritan, there are plenty of people who truly have been beat up and left by the side of the road, with no insurance company to help or TV coverage to generate sympathy. Let’s help them with that $25,000. Why are Sunday School classes being asked to adopt families from the Impact center for Christmas at their own expense while the Pastor passes out God’s money willy-nilly to a church where the female pastor takes stands in opposition to what those same Sunday School members believe the Word of God teaches?? Those people are the people Jesus taught us to help, without of course first giving them a pop quiz on the Baptist Faith and Message.

Anonymous said...

"The check given to First United was not--let me stress, not--drawn from tithes and offering, but rather from the Benevolence Fund."

Bro Mike, if you could take a moment away from reading your dictionary and tell me where the money in Bellevue's Benevolence Fund first enters the doors of our church if not from the pockets and checkbooks of its members.

Anonymous said...

Mike -

You continue to make me laugh. Though I don't agree with a lot of what you say, I do enjoy reading your thoughts....

More importantly, you have the integrity NOT to hide behind a "blog name".

Steve Rivers

Anonymous said...

mike since you support the 25k gift to a church thats supports that abortion .that makes you a supporter of abortion,thats a label you can live with

Mike Bratton said...

Anonymous said...
mike since you support the 25k gift to a church thats supports that abortion .that makes you a supporter of abortion,thats a label you can live with

8:03 PM, November 25, 2006


Speaking of slurs, that one just inspired a change in the way I run this little slice of the Internet.

And also inspired a post.

--Mike

church_musician said...

Mike-
I went back and forth about the donation and sought wisdom on the matter. A good question that was posed to me was whether or not this was a church that we wish to get back on its feet? Possibly these people are better off in a position to seek another church? While I would like to restore their homes to them (if they had burned, for example), I would not wish to restore to them their building. Is this even a church according the biblical paradigm? Isn't is more like a social club? I wonder that helping out Katrina victims is different from restoring a building that has burned? Katrina victims are people. Giving money to the building fund for this church could be construed as support of that church and even that ideolody? What would seem more like biblical love would be to meet with the people who were members of the church and go from there. Rather than say, "Here is $$. Rebuild this place of worship. We support what goes on here." I know I am reading into it, but...??? I dunno. As far as I know, no one was burned in the fire. If they were, I would say indeed, let us help. But I think we love them better by leaving them in a position to find another church. Perhaps a biblical one.
Thoughts?