It wasn’t the first thing that attracted me to Calvary Chapel (circa 1974), nor was it the second.
(First was Chuck Smith’s verse-by-verse through the Bible teaching – I was so hungry for scripture. Second were the Maranatha! bands like Mustard Seed Faith, Children of the Day and Parable.)
But, although it wasn’t the first thing to attract me, it was something I noticed very early on and internalized.
Chuck never asked for money. At least once, when the offering was being taken, he said something to the effect of, “If you have some extra, put it in the offering; if you need a few bucks, take some out.” One of his biblical mottos was “freely you have received, freely give.”
It seems to me such a tragedy that (almost) everything in the kingdom these days costs money. An exception, I guess, are the excellent podcasts, but even most of those will periodically plead for money. Conferences, retreats, spiritual direction, collectives, media resources, Christian counseling, seminary courses, even concerts, all have (usually substantial) fees attached. Most of them are awesome, anointed and beneficial. I’m not suggesting they aren’t worth the charges.
But, I can’t afford any of them, nor can any of the inner city people to whom I minister. And that is sad. The resources of the kingdom should be accessible to all God’s people, not just those of the middle class or above.