Take That, Rick Warren
You may have seen the news story earlier in the week about how Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church was short a bunch of money at the end of the year and how Warren appealed to the congregation to make up the shortfall. They needed something like $900,000 and the appeal ended up generating more than $2.4 million. Here’s the story, and I say good for them.
But I do take issue with a comment Warren made about the whole thing. According to the L.A. Times story, Warren said, “I say without fear of contradiction that I don’t know of a more generous church.”
Apparently Rick Warren does not know of Langhorne Presbyterian Church.
Our generosity may not be measured in the millions of dollars; it’s measured in toothbrushes and scholarships, books and meals, encouragement and care.
For the last month or so you’ve seen a pretty unassuming appeal for dental hygiene supplies – tooth brushes and tooth paste – that we can add to the stock of medicines we take on the mission trip to Guatemala. The mission team had hoped for 700 tooth brushes and 700 tubes of toothpaste. Even two weeks ago we were wondering if we’d make it. At this past Monday’s Mission Committee Meeting we heard that all goals have been surpassed. Take that, Rick Warren.
Earlier in the fall another low-key invitation was given for those who might feel called to participate in the child sponsorship program in Guatemala. We set a goal for a modest increase to 75 sponsorships. By the end of November nearly twice as many had been given. 140 or so poor kids going to school because of faithful giving among LPC folks.
Last summer we asked for books to help fill the shelves at Hunting Park Christian Academy in North Philadelphia. A pick-up truck full and more of books are now making a difference in the lives of a couple of hundred school kids in a tough part of town.
We pack thousands of Aid for Friends meals each year and prepare some great Saturday morning breakfasts at the Red Cross Homeless shelter.
Within the church family, we have been able to provide critical support to our young missionaries, Jonathan and Kristy, as they prepare for their year in Honduras. Just this past week we sent some of our young people to St. Louis for the Urbana Missions Conference and, as you will hear and see, the consequences are already nothing less than life changing. Those young people are well aware of the way a generous congregation has blessed them.
During this year of economic hardship, quietly, anonymously, families and individuals in the church have been fed, housed and supported in significant ways by our Deacons Fund and the generous gifts you give to it.
LPC is a congregation generous with its money and resources, no doubt about it. And since I don’t know much about Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, I think I’ll add, “I say without fear of contradiction that I don’t know of a more generous church.”
There’s another way that LPC folks are a generous people. I see it all the time. I see a generous giving of love in the gift of time and conversation, a listening ear and a caring spirit.
When it comes to generous love, I don’t know of a more giving church. But I guess I’d have to say that as generous as we are, we’re still working on it. There are still people in our own church family who are waiting for a listening ear and an encouraging word. Just a friendly, look-you-in-the-eye, “hello” and “how are you doing” at Coffee Hour some Sunday morning. Or maybe a call this weekend. “Just been thinking of you,” you might begin. I received one of those “just been thinking of you” calls this week, a generous gift from a member of a church of which I can say without fear of contradiction, "I know of none more generous.” It was the best call of the week.