The Apostle Paul collected an offering for the poor – The Jerusalem Offering. There are folks, Paul knew, who are completely dependent on the provision of God. Without the support of the larger church, God’s people would fall between the economic cracks of society’s indifference to the voiceless and the marginalized.
We have come a long way as God’s people from the days of famine and scarcity that plagued cities like Jerusalem. Indeed, we can boast that we do more to address the economy of the poor than ever before. But there is still a need for The Jerusalem Offering. Why? Because there are still voiceless and marginalized people falling between the ecclesiastical cracks of our synod caused by a pastor famine. To put it as a question:
Should only those who can afford a pastor have one?
In a synod where we confess that we have more pastors waiting for calls to a church than are employed in them, Why are the poor and marginalized at a loss to find a pastor?
Unless the pastor is independently wealthy (do you know any?), has another job that pays the bills or is a seminarian compelled to jump through hoops in order to graduate, the poor in our most marginalized areas of the synod have no pastor. The reality is pastors have bills. Mortgages. Student loans. And the hard truth is if you can’t afford a pastor, you can’t have one.
What would happen if we imagined The Jerusalem Offering as a way to address this pastor famine? What if we imagined the Jerusalem Offering in our synod as a tangible expression of the interdependence of the members of the Body of Christ? (1Cor. 12:25-26) Click here for the vision
5 million dollars is a chunk of change. But God’s people give generously when compelling vision embraces urgent need. A compelling vision that is easy to understand with measurable outcomes. A vision that speaks directly to this synod’s desire to grow by gathering in all of the harvest. Deep inside, we have been waiting for a vision as big as our desire to be generous, right?
At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. (Romans 15:26-27).