Churches pushing for cash

By Ashley Schofield

As a broke college student, I have started to pursue free
activities. Last week, my manifesto to boredom encouraged me to
start anew and get out and do things.

There are things to do that don’t require busting open your
wallet, but it takes getting over the immediate desire to grab
drinks, as most 21-year-olds who could afford it would do.

This weekend I had three outings from my niche here at the
newsroom, which included two basketball games and the regular
Sunday church service. The games proved to be a fun, cheap event
with our big wins and instilled a sense of school spirit in me that
often fades at the commuter campus.

Church, however, surprisingly presented a price tag.

More and more, offerings are being pressed upon service-goers. I
always get nervous before going to church because I cannot make an
offering every week. With the $15 I have in my account, sometimes
even $2 is hard to scrape up.

I believe the effort of going to church for self-sanctity
deserves award enough, not a slap on the wrist when you can’t
donate. Apparently I might be wrong, though, since each week
proceeds to stress the importance of contribution.

I understand the need for donations, but I do not think it
should even come close to being the focus of mass. Unfortunately
that is what’s happening. For awhile now, the majority of sermons
seems to either start out asking for money or consists of a
30-minute lecture about why we should give, followed by a
five-minute summation of the week’s gospel.

I almost walked out of this Sunday’s service, although my strict
Catholic schooling compelled me to remain glued to my seat despite
how appalled I was.

It was pledge day. Devotional cards – nicely put – were passed
out to fill out credit card information and billing addresses to
commit the community to make larger donations. Over a loudspeaker,
we listened to the archdiocese priest droll on about how important
it is to give. This was followed by the usual sob stories that
should make us take another look at our blessings and feel obliged
to give.

I don’t mean to sound cold and cruel, but the bitterness of
being poor has made money a worry I like to elude – and now I can’t
even escape it at church.

I think those that can and want to should offer it up, but
people should not be guilt-tripped, especially at church.

The Rev. Brian Kluth has a Web site that tells other churches 10
creative ways to increase offerings 10 to 25 percent – “proven ways
churches of all sizes have increased offerings.”

One of the 10 ways Kluth suggests to augment donation numbers is
to preach financial sermons.

When I was younger, the money pleas were reserved for the end of
mass only. At this time priests can go on for as long as they want,
but my suspicions are they started realizing that people will leave
early.

Hence, this must be the reason for tagging it onto the sermon,
because it’s smack-dab in the middle of mass, when people cannot
escape the lecture.

The major problem is it’s not in addition to anymore; it really
is in place of. Personally, I go to church to learn something, and
I know it is my obligation to give, but I don’t need to be reminded
for the mass’s entirety nor feel shamefaced about it when I
don’t.

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