How Should We Talk About How We Spend our Part of the Phantom Trillion?

A second (in some cases third or fourth) thank you to everyone sharing and talking about the phantom trillion piece on Huffington.  Yesterday I asked people for ideas about mobilizing their share of the phantom trillion toward direct impact in places where it matters most and how to encourage others to do the same.  Brian Sun had this to share:

Initial thoughts about how to start change from the ground up:

I need to change first.

Meaning, the individual people who read, commented, shared, and agree that the phantom trillion from the Body of Christ could “feed everyone, clothe everyone, give everyone access to water, heal the land, clean the water, and clean the air in perpetuity” need to examine their individual lives’ and ask: Am I tithing?

If the answer is no (yet you still said amen to article), then why not? Then identify the barriers, talk to a friend about it, and make the next step towards giving a tenth part of your income. That’s change from the ground up.

If the answer is yes, then why? Then share why you’re tithing with one of your Christian friends who is not tithing. That’s change from the ground up.

Once we (Christians) understand “the economic power we possess and the practical implications of loving one’s neighbor as oneself, this phantom trillion would find its way to points of need.” The action step in this is if you’re tithing to your church: find out if you can be a voice in where the money is spent. Granted, the lights need to stay on, but “investing 10 percent of its (the Church’s) annual income to overcome the systems of injustice, hate, and other things we still call sin” is essential. That’s change from the ground up.

Or if you’re a Christian who is cool with tithing to charity:water, Compassion, World Vision, and other legit charities, tell your friends about them. That’s change from the ground up.

Now let’s get started.

These are important points.  Each starts with honesty in relationships.  Being honest with ourselves, being honest with friends about why we do what we do, being honest about our expectations that other Christians  wrestle with this issue (and come out on the side of ending poverty), being honest with church boards (or non-profits) and demanding honesty from them.

Immediately, I thought of tweeting something like “I just bought _X___ fruit trees and donated _$Y__ to the Most Urgent Need Fund through WorldVision. Will you match me?”  But there’s a whole lot of stuff that comes along with filling in those blanks with actual numbers, isn’t there?  On one hand, I’m of the mind that the time has long come to stop being polite about our expectations of each other.  Even so, there’s a thousand degrees of nuance I know should be reserved for that kind of statement.  Twitter is not a vehicle of nuance.  Neither are hunger or thirst or famine or war.  But using numbers invites the old charge that we’re doing this to show how good or giving we are, even though I’m saying the time has come to get serious because of how bad we’ve generally been.

I looked again at Brian’s comments, and I noticed that he said we ought to be sharing why we give.  He’s also implying, I think, some heavy one-one-one conversations where filling in those blanks isn’t boastful or embarrassing and might mean real encouragement for others.

In the context of WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc, I’d encourage everyone to talk freely about which campaigns they support and why they support them.  Tell us why you tithe or how you think about tithing.  Tell us if you believe that a tithe to charity: water, WorldVision, or Compassion International can (should!) take the place of a “church tithe” in your context.

In the meantime, I’m going to tweet my Will You Match Me? tweet with blank spaces intact.  And I’ll make a point of talking to my friends in person about why I think they should match me if they can.

No, this is not a master plan.  But we need to give with these intentions and share these intentions with others.  People already making a point of doing these things or who are just starting to also need each other for encouragement.  Please come share your experiences with me/the readers of this blog any time.

I just tithed 10 percent of my first paycheck as Director of Mission at First Prebyterian Church of Allentown, PA to buy __ fruit trees and give __ dollars to the Most Needed Fund through WorldVision.  Will you match me with a 10 percent tithe of your income this week?