Mess of Pottage Blog

Luke's "Pro" Blog

High-Percentage Tithing “Accelerators”

Here’s an article about some things that are found in Presbyterian churches with a higher-than-average proportion of people who contribute a high percentage of their income to the church.

(Did you get that? These are factors that, when you find them in a church, give you grounds to predict that the church will have a more high-giving contributors than average churches. The article calls these factors “accelerators” but that suggests causation, as if these factors somehow stepped on the tithing gas pedal. From my reading, a better term would be “predictor.”)

Anyway, these “accelerators” are as follows:

  • More conservative worshipers.
  • More people who attend at least weekly.
  • More (i.e., a higher-than-usual proportion of) men.
  • Larger congregations.

It’s interesting to speculate what the connections are (besides statistical anomaly) between these factors and higher giving.

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“A little help!”

The NRSV has a strangely bland translation of Romans 15:24:

when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while.

The bland part is where it says “to be sent on.” That’s a unfairly wooden translation of the Greek word propempto. Literally, the word means just that: pempto (“I send”) plus pro- (“forth”). But what it really means is to help someone go forth.

To send someone that way sometimes means to accompany them. That’s what it means in Acts 21:5, where Luke writes that “all of them, with wives and children, escorted us outside the city,” and Acts 20:38, when the Ephesian elders brought Paul to the ship.

But more typically, especially in the Epistles, to send someone forth means to provide them with material support for their journey. This is particularly clear in Titus 3:13, which tells the recipients to send on Zenas the Lawyer and Apollos, “and see that they lack nothing.” BDAG offers this definition: “to assist someone in making a journey, send on one’s way with food, money, by arranging for companions, means of travel, etc.”

ESV is better, if still a little awkward:

I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.

NIV is better still:

I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.

The problem with the NRSV’s bland translation is it disguises what Paul is doing: asking for money. In Romans 15:24, Paul is saying he wants the Roman church to help him get to Spain. In 1 Corinthians 16:6, he says he doesn’t even know yet where he’ll be going.

By disguising what Paul is saying, this failure-to-translate hides the implicit teaching, that this is what churches do: provide support to people who are doing ministry beyond their immediate neighborhood. And worse, it fails to teach people (e.g., pastors and elders) to ask for such support, the way Paul used to.

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What Do You Want From Life?

“What do you want from life?”

Everyone answers that question differently. What I mean is this. Everyone wants to be happy. There are things we want to accomplish. We want financial security. We want to be in relationships with other people. But we’re all unique, so we all want these different things in different proportions.

Proverbs 14:4 goes like this:

“If there are no oxen the crib is clean, /
But a rich harvest comes through the strength of the ox.”

We Americans have to pause a moment to decode it, because so few of us are involved in farming. The point, however, is clear: the things we want most generally can’t be had by themselves. They come when we do other things that move us toward our real goals.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Does anyone still have a Hi-8 camcorder?

Does anyone has a Hi-8 camcorder I could borrow?

I’ve got some old tapes I’d like to convert to DVD. Our Hi-8 camcorder is busted, so there’s no way to play the tapes back, and that’s step one of any conversion.

I don’t want to pay a service to convert them. I’d rather borrow a camcorder and do it myself. I’d even buy one, if the price weren’t too horrible.

If you can help, comment on this posting. (You’ll have to set up an account, but then you can comment on any posting.)

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