Theologizing on Seth Godin’s mini-essay in the “What Matters Now” project – “Generosity”

“When the economy tanks, it’s natural to think of yourself first. It turns out that the connected economy doesn’t respect this natural instinct. Instead, we’re rewarded for being generous.”

It might be said the American Christian church is suffering a form of “tanking”. While this is somewhat general and broad, it might be argued the Christian voice in America has been diluted by American exceptionalism, patriotism, individualism, consumerism, and several other ‘isms’ to the point that for many Christianity and American are almost interchangeable. The Church has lost its vision and focus and identity in many ways, and we are ‘tanking in many ways.

The declining of church membership and people joining “religion” can be seen and has been argued that the American Church is tanking and this has resulted in many faith communities looking inward. As Godin states, this is natural, but this ‘natural’ instinct is actually perpetuating the thing many faith communities are looking to reverse. As we look inward to meet our needs, we are not reaching out to meet the needs of our neighbor. This inward focus works like a spiral moving churches further and further downward until the church reaches the point of irrelevance or non-existence.

Rather, the Church needs to look outward. I know this is hard. I know this means those of us in the Church may have to stop doing ministries that feed only ourselves. We have to be willing to do ministries which there may not ever be a “return on the investment”. We may have to go into debt in order to help lift others out of the hell they are in.

I think the question that this sort of generosity asks is this: Is the Church for the people in the walls or outside the walls?

Let’s face it no church can walk this line perfectly and meet needs for BOTH. Every church will focus a little more on either those inside or those outside the Church. If we are going to focus a little more on those in the church then our inward spiral begins and slowly moves our churches into non-existence. So we cannot afford to only focus on the insiders only a little more than outsiders. Churches have to put the focus on those outside the Church.

And when that outward over inward focus happens, when that generosity happens, we will be moving toward the goal. Just look at the life and actions of Jesus.

Jesus was an outward focused person.