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Week Five: Giving Its Love Away
Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom S. Rainer

Chapter 5 begins with: “When you conduct the autopsy of a church, you must follow the money. For where the money of the church goes, so goes its heart.

I once heard of two churches that received a very large amount of money from an estate. It was in the amount of seven figures each. As you can image, both churches were overwhelmed by the generosity of the giver. The vestries met to determine how the money should be used and the outcomes were interesting. Over the years one church put its money towards the infrastructure of the building because it was old and had some long overdue maintenance. They also endowed their music ministry. The word was their choir’s performances were the best in miles.

The other church also put some of their money towards the facilities and the rest was given to the needs of the community, such as housing the homeless and the poor.

Fast forward many years. The first church has the best choir in the city but few communicants to hear the magnificent music. Over the years their numbers slowly declined with deaths and transfers to other churches and beyond. The second church, however, is different. Their pews are full and their faith is strong. My observation is because the second church is giving beyond their four walls. They are active in the broader community, not just themselves.

Jesus calls us to give away our second coat, our second pair of shoes, our food if need be to those most vulnerable. Most importantly Jesus calls us to give away the love we have received from God thereby being like Jesus. When we give in such a way that brings us into community with the other, as the second church, our message becomes Loving, Liberating, Life-giving. God is given to the world, face-to-face with our neighbor.

Is your church giving its love away or keeping it for a rainy day?

Brave journey,
The Rt. Rev. Morris K. Thompson, Jr.
Bishop of Louisiana

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