Virtual Pew Update on Giving.
I was recently reminded of the popular Almond Joy/Mounds Candy Bar Commercial. The one that has as a theme song, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t!” The truth is, that I didn’t realize until recently a mistake I made in the recent issue of The Virtual Pew News.
As most of you know, there may often be a mention of supporting The Virtual Pew in the newsletter, but seldom have I asked for support or made any detailed mention of it as in the last issue. In fact this is something that is so uncommon for me to do, I was lost in the process of how to do this. That is until I received several emails stating; “Mike we would love to support The Virtual Pew, but how do we send you support?” Thankfully there were some individuals who actually did a search of how to send money or support. I have also had several individuals contact me as to the method of spiritual and ministry support they can offer. After a few email requests, I figured I needed to let individuals know how to give.
There are actually a couple of ways one can financially support The Virtual Pew. One is via snail mail. You can designate the gift and mail it via the following:
The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217
You can also give online to The Virtual Pew via Pay Pal at the following link: http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html Notice when giving in this manner, while the gift is instant, there is a small fee depending on the size of the gift to The Virtual Pew.
Of course we appreciate any gif. I would like to comment on giving. The issue came up recently in a communication with an individual on MySpace.
The individual was telling me they were feeling guilty for the types of ministry they had supported in the past, especially television and televangelism ministries. He asked my position on these issues and I responded with the following.
The truth is there are numerous ministries that compete for your giving in dollars and ministry. Yes that is correct, they compete. Many don’t like the fact that I am honest about what happens, but in fact that is what happens. Here is the reality; there are numerous ministries that depend on the financial contributions of individuals outside of their organization. That is not to shed a negative light on those ministries, but I do believe it is not uncommon for a ministry to become so focused on giving that they forget about the ministry they were called into. When this starts to happen be careful.
Truth is, individuals receiving benefits from ministries have some responsibility to support that ministry. In saying this though, I believe with my whole heart, a Christian’s first line of support should directly go to their local church if they are involved. There are other areas a believer can and should support outside of their regular tithes and/or offerings. Those ministries that provide service, or are providing ministry, or mission to areas that individual supports. It is in these areas that I believe The Virtual Pew falls into. For some, we are a method of teaching and instruction. There is counseling, financial help, and other methods of help we provide. Others see us as a Mission organization in that we are reaching out to others in a unique and different way. It is new and with little effort one can easily tell of the effectiveness we are having. Simply visit the message boards, or MySpace accounts, comments and so forth. This does not touch the magnitude of individual contact we have via either telephone, email or other methods. It is not uncommon to spend 4-5 hours a week on telephone calls providing some level of counseling to individuals around the world. Much longer periods of time is spent via communiqué, email, chat rooms and so forth. Again, review of comments if needed to verify this.
All of this said, how does one determine which ministries to support or not? I believe for Christians, it is critical to pray and seek God’s wisdom. I have often prayed about this and asked God which ministries need the support that I can offer. I also ask who gets the biggest bang for the buck. There is much more than that, but that is the method I use.
Now let me be clear, there are many good ministries that deserve your support. There are others however I question, for example, those that have ministers making huge sums of money, or spend their money unwisely. $10,000,000 for personal and/or private jets, or million dollar salaries aren’t ministries I personally feel good about supporting. There are many others that exist. Also notice I said I feel good about supporting. If God calls you to support ministries like this, then by all means do so.
There are also ministries like The Virtual Pew. I draw a salary of $400 a week for the first year. Of that I automatically tithe 10% back into various ministries. My wife follows the same procedure from her teaching position. My salary is $20,800 a year. Currently there is no reimbursement for any expenses. In other words, my mileage, meals, and all other expenses come out of my salary. The initial costs of the lap-top, and projection unit and software did come out of the $35,000 a year annual budget. There are other costs that come out of that, including $5,000 a year in Benevolent assistance to individuals in need. We have helped so far, pay rent, phone bills, food and other things for people in need.
As you can see, this isn’t much money in comparison to most ministries. The ultimate goal is to within the next 3 years to have an annual budget of $100,000 a year. Of this amount, the desire is to have a minimum of $20,000 go to benevolent assistance. Now understand as a part of this is included educational, and training assistance. The goal is to not just give people fish, but to teach them how to fish. In other words, assist with budgeting, financial counseling, job training, and so forth. Possibly even provide educational training. Our objective in ministry is to help others learn to help themselves. While there is a level of helping people who need immediate help, our objective is far greater than that. Our first line of support will go to those willing and wanting to help themselves, along with God’s provision and help.
A part of this philosophy comes after years of working in Social Work related fields. I understand the value of people helping themselves. In this process you not only help them with immediate need, but also long-term permanent needs. I also think it is consistent with Biblical approaches.
There is much more going on with The Virtual Pew than this but this gives an idea of where we are coming from. I know there are other great ministries, many of them I support. I could mention many of those and if you have any questions as to which ministries I support feel free to email me. There are also secular organizations that I support, but that is outside of my giving to ministry related areas.
The last thing I will say is that I truly believe giving and support to deserving ministries is act of worship. It is a way we make sacrifices to the ministries we believe are carrying out the work of God. I used to have issues with this, used to in fact not support ministries like I should. Over the years though I have seen my needs met and taken care of when I am giving as I should. I believe there is a direct correlation to my giving and my needs being met. I can’t explain it other than to say that I just know it to be true. I also believe that if God will do that for me, He will do that for you.
I refuse to beg and plead. I have a God I know will meet my needs, even though I don’t always know how. I also know that I have to do my part, as do you. I will refuse to say, this is the ministry you need to support. Instead, I’ll say pray about it. Ask God. Then listen to what you believe Him to be telling you. If it is to support this ministry in some way, then do it, if it is to support another fine ministry doing the work of God, then do it. If it is to support some organization that is doing a good work, maybe isn’t a Christian organization, then do it. I have friends, atheists in fact whom have in the past sent money to this ministry, whether to provide gifts to needy children at Christmas, or to support the financial needs of a young boy battling cancer. I won’t turn down those gifts either, but neither am I asking you for support. If you feel like you want to support us, fine, but let that be your decision, not one made because you feel like you have to.
I hope I have made this clear. Any money that comes in is placed in an interest bearing account, and used only as needed. I also believe in the process of making sure that what money comes in is used as wisely as possible. In fact, over the last 3 months we have earned over $300 in interest. That may not seem like much, but $300 is $300 and to some people, that is a lot.
Thanks again and God bless,
Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.
The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217
Or you van give on line via Pay Pal at: http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html
To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can contact me via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.