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VOLUME 2 • ISSUE 4   |   Release date: September 15, 2004

In This Issue
Resurrection in Question!
Announcements Display Members' Tithe Amounts
Pastor's Schedule "Really Hectic"
Madonna Declares Herself Messiah of Kabbalah
Christian Pledges to Public Radio
Survey Results
Sept. Church Sign of the Month

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Church Displays Members' Individual Tithe Amounts During Pre-Service Announcements
Madonna Messiah of Kaballa?

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Have you ever seen your church's income figures and casually estimated how much each attendee would have to tithe to reach the total? Have you ever looked around during a Sunday morning service and wondered who specifically is giving how much? Well in a time when privacy is regarded as highly as autonomy, Pastor Regan Miller of First Baptist Church in New Braunfels decided it is time to urge his congregation into a deeper level of financial accountability. For six weeks now, First Baptist's pre-service PowerPoint announcements include a chart with each member's tithe amount from the prior week.

Surprised? So was Miller's congregation when it first learned of his plan on August 8th, as it read the name and tithe of each attendee at the previous week's service on the 22-foot digital projection screen extending down over the wooden cross behind the pulpit. Gasps and murmurs filled the morning air as many of the names of First Baptist's 391 members filled the charts on the screen—slide after slide.

"This is a hill-dang outrage!" said one parishioner. "I feel violated and done lost a trust in our leadership. And I knew Jack and Betty couldn't possibly afford that there new Ford F-250 Extended Cab if they been tithing as much as we done!"

Churchgoer Vince Caleone reacted more in defense than in outrage. "I know that the $4 looks bad next to my name but I seriously only get paid once a month and I'll make up the difference—soon!"

After hearing of Vince's comments and others like them, associate pastor Howard Thrift explained, "Y'all can rest assured that a few low numbers won't necessarily look bad in the end. We're aware of these circumstances and we plan to include year-to-date data on the last Sunday of each month. That should ease their concerns."

But many parishioners concerns lie in the premise of this new initiative. Pastor Miller believes he can address these matters, too. "God is challenging us in news ways here in terms of financial accountability. Now you are better equipped to approach others about their potential temptations. Like, 'Mr. Nevins, I wonder if you could explain to me why your beach house payment is so important that you can only tithe $100/month?' I'm just trying to raise the bar in terms of our ability to build up one another in the Kingdom."

Church treasurer Larry Bosnick has analyzed some of the data and trends since this all started. "Well, what we've found is that while there are 67% fewer people tithing now, there has been a monetary increase of around 443% per tithe. It doesn't take a church treasurer to see that these numbers are working in our favor," he said with a chuckle. "We're thinking of ways to periodically post who hasn't been tithing and things. And hopefully we can get a hold of some income data soon so we can print percentage numbers—because that's what God really cares about."

Miller concluded, "We understand the major issues that something like this so obviously raises—like readability. So we make sure below average tithes are in a bold red font so people can't too easily overlook their shortcomings. And in case that's not enough, we also post each week's data in an Excel file, downloadable on our Web site."

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