Myrtle’s 2013 Focus: Spiritual Philanthropy
“The Church Where Love Abides”
Myrtle Baptist Church, “the church where love abides” has been on a divinely-inspired journey that bridges our unique history as a family and body of believers and aligning it with a new vision of “reaching up, out and within.” The impact of this vision has extended to seeing Myrtle as being a “church without walls.” Under the leadership of Pastor Brandon Thomas Crowley, Myrtle intends to evolve our ministry and mission-orientation from the three C’s- Christ, Community and Culture- to that of “spiritual philanthropy.” Spiritual philanthropy is not about the prosperity gospel. It is a means to facilitate the vision of Myrtle that guides our service. It is about God’s abundant, full and unconditional love for us; the Love ethic of Jesus Christ; our responsibilities as stewards of that love; and how we should make that love manifest in our daily walk as individual believers and as a corporate body.
Understanding Spiritual Philanthropy
When we think of philanthropy we most often think of the giving of money for a good cause. But the etymological and original meaning of the word should be the root of our love for and service to one another. If we go to the derivation and meaning of the word, we get to “the love of humanity.” Isn’t that what God has asked of us? Isn’t that what he did for us? “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, and who so ever shall believe in Him shall have everlasting life.” God has imbued us with talents and spiritual gifts that can be and should be used in the love of humanity- for all of what God has created- to make manifest His Kingdom on earth. There are similarities and differences in gifts and talents. They are similar in that everyone can possess them and can both be used for the betterment of humankind in His name. Both can be witnessed by others which means there is a natural-ness to both. But the difference is that though anyone can have talents only those who believe and have placed their faith in Christ can be spiritually gifted. Spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual philanthropy is not about giving money and other resources in the name of Christ. It is about giving of your gifts and talents- your SPIRITUAL CAPITAL- because you believe that your abundance is not for you to hoard but to share- knowing that it will be restored so you can give even more. Luke 6:38 says, “Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Our Myrtle action plan is to receive the Spirit and extend God’s grace. God’s proposes that we use the church, not the building with people but the body of believers, to display His wisdom, His love and His abundant mercy.
In conclusion, spiritual philanthropy isn’t about the big things we do but sometimes the little things we say or do. Sometimes messages to us come in very, very simple ways. And if you listen well enough, God speaks to you. Actually God speaks to you even when you are not listening because we, as people, can be so hard headed and get caught up in our own “thing.”
Our challenge as a church, is to determine which spiritual gift or gifts we would like to harness and mobilize in a spiritually philanthropic manner. We have varied gifts as individuals but is there one or two as a corporate community that we can identify and use to affect change in both a spiritual and just way? If so, what is it and what difference do we want to make?
adapted from “Spiritual Philanthropy at Myrtle Baptist Church: Reaching Up, Out and Within” by Dr. Adrian K. Haugabrook