Connected to the Stuff You Should Know (Part 4) post is the idea of the "Bargain Church".
The Bargain Church is all around, and everyone has participated in the Bargain Church.
When we participate in a food drive by giving the box of pistachio pudding we never made, the jar of pimentos we never opened, or the container of almost expired breadcrumbs - then we have fallen victim of the Bargain Church.
Rule of thumb - if we are not going to eat it, odds are no one wants to either.
If we have ever gotten an angle off an angel tree and then instead of getting the "Super Soaker" water gun or the Nike shoes we saw Dollar General had a sale and we were able to get a 20 pack of 'squirt pistols' or the "Nikeys", then we may have fallen victim of the Bargain Church. The fact of the matter most of the time people on the angel tree get hand-me-downs all year long, they have enough "Nikeys" to last a life time, they have a closet and room full of constant reminders that they are "other" and "second-hand".
Rule of thumb - If someone asks for something and we rather give them something else then we are putting ourselves before others.
When we think "beggars cannot be choosy" because beggars should just be happy with whatever they get, and so we give them clothes that are full of holes and tears, we may have fallen to the Bargain Church.
Rule of thumb - if we do not wear clothes because the clothes look like crap, asking someone else to wear them is dehumanizing.
Just because it is called charity does not mean that those who receive charity want the crap that we do not have the heart to throw out.
Rule of thumb - if we are really giving someone something that we just don't have the heart to throw away because we think they could "use it" chances are we are just trying to assuage the guilt we have in having owned the item to begin with.
When we are building a church or doing a ministry but fall into a conversation about how we could "get that cheaper", then we may have fallen victim to the Bargain Church. The institutions that change the world do not allow their big dreams to change the world become hijacked by those who are just looking to get a great deal. Billy Graham did not say, "yea we could pack out that stadium, but we should just go to a high school gym because they will not charge us to rent the space."
Rule of thumb - Dreams on the cheap are really just that, cheap dreams.
The Bargain Church makes a mockery of Christ's Church. It makes us feel like we are generous, but in reality we just brag about how much we were able to "save" in the quest of being generous.
Christ's Church must stay vigilant to the Bargain Church. While Christ's Church is built on extravagant generosity, the Bargain Church is built on a feeling good about ourselves for getting a good deal. Christ's Church is built with great dreams to change the world, the Bargain Church is cobbled together with the change we saved on all the great bargains we were able to get.
We know when Christ's Church is affected by the Bargain Church because the Church is never accomplishing anything. When you are bargain hunting you go from store to store and spend countless hours looking for that "deal" - time and energy wasted. Most of the time the bargain looks great in the short term, but name me a bargain that you have had for longer than ten years and I will show you an rare gem.
And this is the real danger of the Bargain Church. Every now and again it "works". We are able to get by on cheap and work the deal and no one is the wiser. And the Bargain Church lives and breaths when we have more satisfaction with getting a good deal than we are changing the world.