Closing, in Jesus’ name, the Promise Gap can provide hope for children dying two a minute, and the church and society in U.S. hungry for adventure.
It’s time for the church to stop letting Hollywood have all the good lines.
So says the 29th edition in empty tomb, inc.’s State of Church Giving series.
– Documentation of the overall slide in giving as a percent of income to churches, and in membership as a percent of U.S. population, between 1968 and 2017. With 70% of the population self-identifying as “Christian,” the trends describe a broad range of denominations with a Christian identity.
– Five chapters look at giving and membership patterns from various perspectives.
– Chapter 7 analyzes U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey. Americans report 69% of their charitable contributions went to “church, religious organizations,” with 81% for the Under-25 age cohort.
Chapter 6 changes focus from the downward trends to potential giving.
Proposed Solution in Chapter 8:
“Can-Do” attitude secular and church examples include the Victoria Falls Bridge, and the church changing Western culture from might is right to might for right.
The church has been a source of hope for the culture. However, for many decades, the church has not provided leadership for people who feel but don’t understand the hint of eternity that God has placed in their hearts (Eccl. 3:11).
Social developments cited include an increase in deaths from despair (drugs, alcohol, and suicide), increased anger and depression, and what some experts call an epidemic of loneliness.
The new book suggests a goal: close, in Jesus’ name, the Promise Gap. Progress charts and data regarding decreasing the Under-5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) among children are presented.
The “Promise Gap” describes the difference between the target reduction in the global U5MR and the actual rate. The book proposes focusing on the 40 countries that were behind in reducing their U5MRs to target levels. The proposed goal is to help them reach their target reduction rates by 2025.
Now, two children under age five who are caught in the Promise Gap die each minute from causes that experts say can be addressed. As the book describes it, the Promise Gap “…conjures a mental image of a narrow road entering the darkness between two tall cliffs, along which small children are herded by Disease and Poverty, never to return.”
The church has global distribution networks, communication systems, and a mandate from the Founder. Yet, people’s attitude toward the church is too often “boredom.”
People are hungry for vision, the book states, noting that the five movies in the U.S. with the highest gross incomes, as of mid-2019, were all action adventure with heroes who take on fierce opponents: 1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens; 2) Avengers: Endgame; 3) Avatar; 4) Black Panther; and 5) Avengers: Infinity War.
Why, the book asks, with the True Super Hero, is the church not seen as tapping the spark of eternity in people’s hearts? Why does Hollywood address the hunger for engaging the eternal spark better than the church? The book concludes:
“It’s time for the church to show what the true Super Hero, with the help of faithful sidekicks, can do. It’s time for the church to stop letting Hollywood have all the good lines.”
The State of Church Giving through 2017: What a Can-Do Attitude in the Church+$16 Billion Can Do in Jesus’ Name for the Children Dying in the Promise Gap, the 29th edition (October 2019) is available from Wipf and Stock Customer Service by phone at 541-344-1528 or [email protected]. More information: empty tomb at (217) 356-9519.