Dollars & Figures – could we really solve some problems?

Here is my take on church budgets and when I researched I was quite amazed at the kind of cash we are dealing in as a church society.

Giving in 7 National Churches (Canada)

Alliance Church – $22,537,661 (possibly including more countries)
Lutheran Church – $10,924,620
Mennonite Church – $3,420,000
Evangelical Church – $3,836,882
Christian Reformed Church – $9,835,920
Free Methodist Church – $768,900
Pentecostal Assemblies Church – $8,830,044

Total: $60,154,027 (based on giving about $5.00/month for each member)

Some Examples

(1) Alliance Church: Has 429,000 members that raised $22,537.661 – each person was giving approximately $53.00 a year (or almost $5.00/month).

(2) Evangelical Lutheran: They have 182,077 members and if each gave $5.00 a month they would raise $10,924,620 in a year.

(3) Mennonite Church: Has 57,000 members and of each gave $5.00 a month they could raise $3.420,000 a year.

(4) Evangelical Fellowship: They have 15,000 members (and families) and they managed to give $3,836,882 in 2005.

I took all my statistics from each Canadian churches official website – for member counts and some even had annual budgets posted. I found out that churches are raising a heck of a lot of cash – the majority of it is being used by the churches for various projects – for the Alliance those projects mainly include the ‘mission field’ (money leaves country) and for others very similar projects – some of them even addressed poverty.

My question is this: can this kind of cash help to re-define the Christian stance on poverty? Can we develop new programs to address needs within our inner-cities? Do we have to power base and resources (people/money) to handle those programs? Let’s say we gave more than $5.00/month in these churches – what would be the end result? I wish I was dreaming these numbers but ‘hey’ while we got Capitalism as a system – let’s use it for some good – the kind where we address the the ideas in Matthew 25:35-40.

‘I have a dream…’


I Wish We All Were Ready – for this type of message!

“I would agree – there is no justification for me hoarding what I own – to another’s demise. The way I see it is quite simple – if they ask, and I do nothing – then I am not listening to the voice of God or even following a single teaching from Jesus (break one – break em all). I have forgotten to love the other as much as I love myself – apparently I have healthy love for myself – but loving myself just seems selfish after awhile.” (SVS)

“I have a warm house when there are plenty of others that don’t and that I’m allowed to have a library of books amongst other things while there is even a single death from malnutrition or starvation (not having enough), there is no justification possible for this. Reasoning like, “I am a good steward” or “I can bless others with what I have” or even “I and my family are entiled to a little something” ring extremely hollow to me when I can save lives by giving even a fraction of that to others. People are dying because they need and do not recieve the things I have. I am responsible for these deaths, I have murdered the other, broken the command “Thou shalt not murder” and killed my neighbour.” (Heinini)

“Levinas points out that this isn’t simply stabbing them with a knife, there are many ways in which we murder, and all of these are “self-ish” pre-occupied with self, justifying self, perpetuating self, always at the expense of the other.” (Heinini)

“In essence I agree with you about the ‘have’s’ and the ‘have nots’ and learning to go back to when we played as kids – and sharing. The idea is not an extremely hard one to understand from the gospels and Christian writings – it’s there in red and white a lot of times. So in essence, I agree with the concept.” (SVS)

“I think we need to develop programs and ideas that will get people to think along these lines – programs that find a way to use what ‘we have’ to help the people that ‘don’t have’…I can see the power of the point of view – working with one another is of the highest importance. Many people are so heaven-bound they forgot about their responsiblities here.” (SVS)

‘To Hell With It All’ – Commentaty on Hell?

“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! Luke 12:4-5” (Bible)

“This teaching is hard to accept but after some serious thought and prayer it makes sense to me. And I am not just focusing on the requirements and warnings of the faith, I have found a better realization of the blessings also.” (Ken)

“A man holds a gun to his wife’s head and says, “Say you love me or I will shoot you.” What could it possibly mean for her to say she loves him? Is that love? A god holds the fires of hell beneath humanity and says, “Love and believe in me or you will spend eternity in the fire.” What could it possibly mean for humanity to love that god? Is that love? I neither love that god nor believe in him. He never existed except in our own masochistic thinking.” (John)

Oh the fires of hell are raging for this topic…does hell exist and if so, why? What is your take on the ‘hell’ that is mentioned quite a bit in the gospels – how do you deal with interpreting things like ‘gehenna’ and ‘brimstone’? Inquiring minds want to know – and some even want avoid it.

When Communism meets Capitalism

I just finished reading an article in the BusinessWeek ( magazine about Chinese factories and American companies – the meeting of Capitalism and Communism. The magazine focused on factory work conditions and American investment – 3 points came up as ‘obstacles to reform’ within those factories (concerning work conditions).

(1) Price Pressures: American’s expect to pay less for the goods they recieve and since 1996 prices on many articles (ex: clothes, toys, and games) has been dropping – Americans have become accustomed to paying the low prices.

(2) Few Alternatives for Manufacturers: Other low wage nations enforce their codes of conduct more stringently but China is very efficient in workforce, infrastructure, supply base, and massive ability to manufacture so much in so little time. Problem is China doesn’t enforce codes of conduct as efficiently.

(3) Worker Demands: The Chinese workforce is quite alright with getting as much hours as possible and not making overtime pay (3-4 hours OT a day on a 5 day workweek) – however this is not what American companies endorse yet they never use their leverage to change the situation.

The problem with the whole scenario is that these Chinese factories are breaking all the American rules for ‘code of conduct’ in an effort to keep American business on their soil. The problem really lies with the ‘pricing’ – most Chinese factories admit that on order to meet American demand for what a product should be produced for (ex: $0.64/hour) they have to not pay overtime – and there isn’t much they can do to change that (since Americans demand a low price on a lamp or sweater).

The Chinese ‘doctor’ the accounting books during audits to make it look like all is fair – they only get found out during routine visits by American companies visiting those factories first-hand. There is even Chinese companies willing to help ‘doctor’ those books for the factory – as a help to keep them in business. All the while, even when the American companies know some of the discrepencies (ex: no OT or underage kids working) rarely do anything since that’s a Chinese thing to deal with – again, bottom line is the focus for both sides. The end of the article even states this is still an ‘economic reality’ – so this is still happening (right now as I type on a Dell computer).

So next time you shop at Wal-Mart, Target, Nike, Adidas, Eddie Bauer, Nordstrom, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Motorola (owns a literal factory), General Electric (owns a factory also), McDonalds, Walt Disney, Home Depot, Sears, retailers under ‘Young Sun Lighting Co., and J.C. Penney – remember they all do business with China so you can ‘pay less’ for their products.

Of an even greater note, we can’t solve the inequitable problem in China but we can learn this simple lesson – with all the money we save for buying at these outlets on all the products we buy each month – possibly we can use that money we save to help someone struggling here with poverty – although the Chinese still will be worked to death – let’s not let their sweat go wasted on a Capitalist machine that also forgets it’s poor here.