GoFindMe – who and where are the “little people” laid off from Mars Hill Church?

Generous giving

I notice that there was no scramble to set up a GoFundMe campaign for any of the 30 to 40 employees of Mars Hill Church that recently got laid off from their jobs.

There has been no GoFundMe fund for restitution to Paul Petry or Bent Meyer for the pain of their firings and loss of income because of the slander that was used to discredit them.

There was no GoFundMe set up for the loss of income supporting the Agathos orphans when Mars Hill Church cut off support after Mark Driscoll threatened to destroy that ministry after the 2007 trials.

As heartwarming as it was to see many of us put together $105,000 for the four former elders (link, link), I note that there are clear biblical guidelines for who the church should raise money for. I hate to see so many lose their jobs at Mars Hill Church in the wake of the numerous scandals that have resulted from the actions of the elders and leadership of Mars Hill Church over the years that is recently coming to light.

It would be fantastic to generously help all who have been plunged into crisis as a result.

As we look at how to help going forward, and before I lay out some biblical guidelines, I must say that I love the generosity displayed to the handful of former elders, and, as an immigrant to the USA I am always amazed at the generosity of Americans to almost any crisis. I see this regularly around the fire where several brothers that meet weekly will rise up and support fellow brothers that are struggling financially. It is true Christian charity at work.

Having said that, there are clear biblical guidelines for the church when providing financial assistance to those in need both outside the local church and for members within the church. We are clearly told who we should give to.

FIRST, give to the orphan and the widow.

This is the most basic directive regarding our Christian charity. Without question or hesitation it should be to the orphan and the widow.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  — James 1:27

Note that we are not to give to all orphans and widows, but only to those that are in distress.

SECOND, give to those in crisis.

Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me. — 1 Corinthians 16:1-4

The Apostle Paul’s collection for the Jerusalem church occupies significant portions of his letters (1 Cor 16:1–4; 2 Cor 8:1–9:15; Rom 15:14–32). He was willing to put time, effort, and risk into collecting money for the church in Jerusalem which was in crisis. When there is a crisis, it is totally appropriate and biblical to raise money for those in crisis, and to risk one’s life to make sure the money gets into the hands of those in crisis and meets their critical needs.

This was the first time we hear of weekly giving in the church. It was not to support the local church, but to support the poor brothers and sisters in crisis in Jerusalem.

THIRD, give to support the widow in your church.

Paul addresses supporting the needy widow in 1 Timothy 5. He teaches that even truly needy widows in the church must first look to their own families before the church kicks in. This is not to be mean, but to be biblical. The first order on God’s civil structure is the family. Therefore the family of the hurting widow should be writing the check and caring for their own widows.

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. — I Timothy 5:3-11a

This list of which widows should receive help can seem quite harsh. Imagine if you were the widow who had lost her husband and was struggling. Some friends of yours go to Timothy and the other elders and suggest a GoFundMe campaign for your plight. Timothy, while moved with compassion at your loss, remembers the words of the fatherly Paul, and asks you about your family. You have family who are able to take care of you, and the GoFundMe idea is scrapped, allowing your own family to enjoy caring for you.

FOURTH, give to the poor.

Numerous passages talk about being generous to the poor. This should be the core of a person’s generosity. The bible verses to this end are too numerous to quote. While it is clear that every member of society should be productive, and the man who will not work should not be rewarded, generous care for the poor should be the hallmark of every church and every Christian’s budget. This should be Generosity 101 in the giving curriculum of every Christian church.

FIFTH, give generously.

There is no biblical injunction against simply being generous to anyone. God lavishes gifts on his children, even though we do not deserve it. We can give gifts out of love. We can give gifts out of thanks. There is no biblical prohibition to an individual from giving gifts to whomever he pleases.

SIXTH, give when restitution is required.

When Zacchaeus was convicted of his sin, he paid back to his victims fourfold. Biblical law always had restitution in mind where the actions of the offender had impacted the victim financially. To fail to do this permanently robs the victim of that which is rightfully his. That is why, when slander is exposed, in most cases there is financial recompense as the slander robbed the victim of his name and therefore his ability to earn.

IN SUMMARY THEN….

  1. Give to the orphan and widow in their distress.
  2. Give to those in deep crisis.
  3. Give to the widow in your church. a. Only to those that are in need and have no family to support them through their crisis. b. Only to those that are known for good works c. Only to those that have cared for her own relatives. d. Only to those who have been faithful to their own husband. e. Only to those well known for her own good deeds. f.  Only if she is not young (over 60) and not capable of working or finding a husband.
  4. Give to the poor.
  5. Give generously.
  6. Give when restitution requires it.
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2 thoughts on “GoFindMe – who and where are the “little people” laid off from Mars Hill Church?

  1. For a year I gave my time to help the volunteer coordinator at the Union Gospel Mission extract critical data from their volunteer database.

    At a later date I spent about half a year on the medical floor of that Mission.

    What I found there was that all executive staff had come up through the ranks of the mission. From prison to mission in a few years. Perhaps some more years to make it there to the executive level.

    Missions are very hard to staff. No one wants to serve there. Of course if your “Mission” is overseas…

    I also found out that most who enter the “new life” style programs there never finish them. Look at the graduation levels compared to the “in the program” rates and then look to the number in the program at a given time and see how the faces change over the year(s).

    Many if not most that do graduate end up on staff at the mission.

    I ended up on the medical floor because a chronic disease forced retraining. While living in a poor neighborhood I was severely assaulted and robbed by a man who had been recently released from prison (he was serving for murder and robbery committed in 1987). He was now hungry and hopped up on crack and so attempted to repeat his crimes with several others and myself.

    There are few if any re-entry programs from the state that I am aware of. Guys at the mission told me that the Missions were the only “re-entry” facilities that they knew of.

    So if you get sick and end up living in a poor neighborhood I guess you can expect some crime related medical down time.

    The stress of the whole thing exacerbated my chronic disease and frustrated it’s treatment. When the 2007 hostile take over of Mars Hill Church occurred mercy from there, which I desperately needed at the time, ended and so they pushed me out on the cold streets of Seattle near Christmas time.

    It seems that if there are poor in the congregation a million and one social engineering tools come to bear to force the “right there local” person out. But many churches “give to the poor” overseas. I suppose that helps a person or two overseas and does give a nice adventurous vacation option or at least a nice feeling with no risk (and no true heart benefit).

    It would be nice to see a bit of compassion return to the church in Seattle.

  2. Galatians 6:9-10 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, [a]while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (NASB)

    James 2:15-16 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, [o]be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (NASB)

    1 John 3:18 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in DEED and TRUTH.
    These are scripture that are always overlooked in a larger church, because that is the scripture that tells us to be servants to one another. These are the ones that are low profile because of the nature of helping of a brother or sister. And “nice people” don’t want to soil their hands. They only want to sing about it soiling their hands. (NASB)

    Some boards would rather spend the money for a birthday party for the Senior Pastor and deligate a program that gives dented cans of food to help around Thanksgiving and Christmas, than encourage helping the ones in pain in a meaningful way. They forget the Greek word for Deacon is not protector of leadership, but servant to the brethren. And that is what Yeshua taught us.

    I challenge my brothers and sisters to sit with a hurting soul and just listen to them for three hours. Be one of those saints that get that call 3 AM in the morning from a wounded brother or sister. No you won’t get any recognition. But soon you will find yourself closer to Yahweh and rather be with the “not so perfect” crowd. I find it a higher honor to cry with the hurting than be with the crowd who are flawless in the culture of Churchianity.

    Good Post.

    Humbly,

    Frank
    Sheep and recovering Pentecostal

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