Christendom has promoted church-giving to new heights in this enlightened century. Always a centerpiece of church devotion, church-giving in the 21st century has now been elevated into a virtuoso performance: justifying the pride of its adherents everywhere.
The best contemporary examples of the extraordinary lengths churches will go to, to coax their flocks into happily emptying their wallets are ably demonstrated by the weekly “Giving Talk” delivered in large Churches every Sunday.
For those of us who have yet to experience this delightful ritual firsthand; a short description is helpful. The Giving Talk is a veritable “sermon preceding the official sermon”. In the order of service, the Giving Talk comes immediately after the emotional highs of a rock-concert style worship. The speaker chosen to present the Giving Talk is no lightweight: they are as passionate, as articulate, and (inevitably) as lengthy as the preacher scheduled later that morning.
Unlike a sermon, the Giving Talk has but a single refrain: that is, to coax every listener to “dig deep” and “give generously” to the church. The speaker provides a continuous stream of persuasive arguments, anecdotes, maxims, and scripture references to make their point over and over again. To put it differently, the Giving Talk aims to persuade that: giving is good, giving to the church is better, and giving to the church right now is best – sayings that cannot be too often reiterated.
The Giving Talk is – of course – directly solely for the spiritual benefit of those who hear it. And so what if the church benefits materially, and that merely inadvertently? Great spiritual benefits are conferred upon the faithful hearers who separate themselves from filthy mammon by pouring whatever wealth they possess into church coffers for “the work of the kingdom”. This, at least, is the fevered assurance of the Giving Talk speaker: whose reiterated blessings kindle within the newly-shorn flock a warm, internal, charitable glow for having “done good”. And indeed: the larger the church bank balance becomes, the more good has been done; apparently. So we are solemnly promised.
Detractors have rather unkindly accused proponents of the Giving Talk of dressing up a “Greed is Good” message in Christian garb: disguising church cupidity behind a covering smoke-screen of platitudes, including: “doing God’s work”, “building God’s kingdom”, and other pious-sounding banalities. More heated accusations sometimes follow: that Giving Talks serve only to cultivate a parasitical class of churchmen living in comfortable idleness: whose days are divided between gossip and drinking coffee at others’ expense during alleged pastoral visits. But since such vituperative claims are clearly made only by the envious – they can be easily discounted. Besides: who dares contend that indisputable worldly success does not clearly show the sanction and approval of God Himself?
The Giving Talk is clearly here to stay: and is already the focal-point of denominations world-wide. Those wishing to themselves participate in such a congenial and wholesome experience need only attend a regular morning service at the largest church in their vicinity: although I recommmend that they first divest themselves of all loose change and credit cards, and leave their wallets behind at home.