DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

September 28 , 2007

                                                           

                                      

Intangible Religious Benefits

Just like everyone else in Dublin Community Church , I received a statement, which detailed my giving to the church thus far in 20007. I opened it and looked it over to see if I had given each week. I wanted see if I had actually kept my pledge.

As the minister of the church, it is pretty difficult NOT to attend on Sundays, save for a few weeks in July and August when I am on vacation. I pretty much know where I am going to be on any given Sunday morning. Occasionally I will forget my pledge and then the next week give double. Before vacation weeks I will pay ahead and I always try to make sure that my monthly giving is complete so the church’s monthly financial report can reflect that giving.

So I, like you, received my giving-statement through August 31. Truth be told: I missed one week, August 26. I guess I had other things on my mind. But I looked through my checkbook and see that I doubled my Sept 2 giving. I am current.

While none of that is particularly interesting, it is relevant to know that your minister pledges and gives just like anyone in the congregation. I am a member of Dublin Community Church and I give for the work and mission of the local and larger church. But there was something that was much more interesting on the accountant’s tally sheet that we were sent. Did you read ALL of it? To the very end of the sheet?

Someone on the Stewardship Committee put a personal “thank you” near the bottom. As a minister, and as a member, I like knowing that my giving is noted and appreciated. But, farther, near the bottom it said this:

**Other than ‘intangible religious benefits’, no goods or services have been received by the donor**

I’m not sure what to make of that. Yes, I know it is a legal designation and one that our accountant must put in there because the government and IRS require it. I know that it means that I did not get a lamp or food or clothing for my donation. I received nothing tangible that I can touch or eat or wear. I also know that I often talk and write about the “non-quantifiable” things that a church does. But, I was struck by the notion that what I do; what you as the church do; what we do collectively as Dublin Community Church can be summed up in three words, “intangible religious benefits.”

As a minister, it is interesting to realize that the work I do day in and day out can be summed up in three words. I suppose if we consider the complex legal wording of any government document or any lengthy speech by a Senator or Presidential candidate, we should appreciate that the work of the church has been neatly summed up in only three words. I can just imagine Jesus saying, “Go ye therefore, into all the world, dispensing to all intangible religious benefits.” Or, “God so love the world that He gave his only Son and some intangible religious benefits.” Or, “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit intangible religious benefits.” I suppose I will get some calls for making light of that, and I am the first to appreciate that at least, our government gives us a break on our taxes and shows respect and acknowledges that there are “religious benefits,” from church going. So I reviewed my daily calendar to see just what it is that we do that is so “intangible”.

 

By the time September is over we will have baptized two more children. The children were all tangible, as was the baptismal water, but the experience was intangible; for you can’t really describe it in human terms. It was religious. I trust that for the parents and this church, there was a benefit for all. I certainly loved the moments of baptism.

September was a month of meals after worship. We celebrated Ruth Moffit’s 100th birthday on one Sunday and sat down to brunch on another and sat in the sun for a grilled-out hamburger picnic on yet another.  The food and the people were tangible. The fellowship experience was intangible by its very nature.

I made home and hospital visits. You taught Sunday School and Youth Groups. The choir sang songs, the bell-ringers rang bells, and committees did their usual work of the church. So did the Church Council. All intangible. All worthy of our time and effort.

I remember the first night I spent in Zambia many years ago, as I was preparing to teach at the boys’ boarding school for the next three years. I remember thinking to myself and wondering what I would know after the next three years; what experiences I would have in my life and what sort of things I would learn. The experiences were real and yet they were all intangible, (save for some of the nshima and kapenta meals served at the boarding school dining hall…believe me they were very tangible.)

This church-stuff that we do is fascinating. We all see it in such different ways. I think it is important. I think it is foundational to our lives. I believe that learning and following the life of Jesus makes for a better life and I face each day with energy. There is a lot going on around here and I pray that if it is intangible…it wraps around your heart and soul and gives you strength.

“Intangible religious benefits.”

The phrase is fine with me. I hope you read over your tangible Giving Statement and gave thanks for the opportunity to be a part of Dublin Community Church . I hope you signed your tangible “Pledge Card for 2008” and sent it in. We in the church need to deal in tangible things once in a while…fill it out with a tangible pen and put a tangible stamp on the tangible envelope and send in your 2008 Pledge.  It’s just one way to ensure that you get a Giving Statement next year reminding you of your “intangible religious benefits.” The other way is to get your tangible self into a tangible pew on Sunday morning.

Peace,   Bob