I just saw an advertisement on Twitter that struck me kind of funny. This advertisement was a promoted tweet, where a Christian resource company—they sell curriculum, books, and other stuff was having a huge sale on all their stuff...
"How generous of them" was my initial thought. Then I said to myself, we (the church) don't have a lot of money so I won't even look and see what they have... Then I remembered that for the last six and a half years I have been on staff in some large churches, and now at a small church where the cash-flow was or is not flowing. We really were not able to buy curriculum and other stuff that we deemed necessary to run effective ministry/programs—we wanted to spend what little dollars we had directly on people, meeting their tangible needs or just pay the bills.
We learned to do ministry with almost a zero dollar budget or on a shoestring. It's funny, because during this time, Lars Rood wrote a book entitled "Youth Ministry On A Shoestring: How to do more with less, but we couldn't afford to buy his book...Haha.
We experienced frustrating and difficult times, but we also saw the generosity of the church engage in ground level ministry—when we needed doughnuts, people brought doughnuts or alternatives, instead of the paid staff buying them with ministry budget dollars. And the examples could go on and on... People became more invested in the ministry and the mission of the church, instead of being just consumers.
We also saw creativity expressed in ways we hadn't seen before. We couldn't buy curriculum, so we were forced to write our own. Paid and non-paid people all contributed to the edification of the body.
People stepped up—they worked and lived through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. People grew and matured in ways that money can't buy or fabricate.
Not having a lot of money can actually be a good thing. It causes us to really dig deep down and find out what really matters, especially when it comes to the church. Having a ton of kick-butt programs with all the bells and whistles that go with them, and having paid ministry specialists for every ministry program can be necessary to some degree. But when all of this get's in the way of the church being the church—it should cause us to pause and reflect on what really matters to mission of Jesus.
I am not against Christian resource companies and I am sure I will buy some stuff from them, once I have some cash flow to do so—it's just that I am beginning to wonder, out-loud, if you will allow me to do so—what would discipleship look like if we didn't have all these resources at our fingertips...