empty tomb, inc.

Support Documents, including chapter 8 of The State of Church Giving through 2011

December 16, 2013

A Christmas Prayer for the World’s Children

In rural Brazil, a group of mothers met for a health class. The missionary was talking about diarrhea. If not treated, the baby loses fluids and the soft spot on the baby’s head sinks in. One mother offered: “That happened to my baby in the morning and she was dead at night.”

Is there anyone hoping to make a child happy this Christmas morning who doesn’t grieve with this mother in Brazil? But what can anyone do about a problem so overwhelming?

empty tomb, inc., thinks Christians need not get overwhelmed. Instead, they can get organized.

The first step, according to empty tomb, inc., is for readers of this press release to say a special Christmas prayer for the children around the world who are facing deathly conditions.

The prayer: May church leaders in the U.S. help millions of children around the world who will die if no one cares enough to get organized.

The answer to this prayer will probably involve at least one church leader calling one other church leader to get things moving.

Fact 1: One of the largest identity groups in the U.S. is “Christian.” Perhaps 150-220 million Americans choose that label, according to different sources.

Fact 2: Church networks and Christian nonprofits are already on the frontlines where the children are dying. No new distribution systems are needed to help the children. These groups already on the frontlines need more money to help more children.

Fact 3: Timely help can make a big difference. For example, Figure 24 of The State of Church Giving through 2011 (23rd edition, 2013) shows before and after photos, 11 days apart, of the difference frontline treatment made for a seven-month old baby (see below for link).

Fact 4: World leaders set the goal in 1990 and again in 2000 to reduce the number of deaths due to preventable poverty conditions in children under age 5. The goal target date is 2015. However, progress was behind schedule as the deadline approaches. As a result, in 2014, the story of the baby in Brazil will be repeated an estimated 2.3 million times around the world. In fact, two of the biggest killers are diarrhea and pneumonia.

Fact 5: According to estimates, an additional $5 billion a year could help close the gap between the number of children dying now and the goal number set by world leaders. $5 billion a year is a lot of money. But power results when each Christian does a little and it’s then put together.

Idea: Church leaders could ask 100 million of the Christians in the U.S. to give $50 a year more, through their own churches or Christian organizations of their choice, to help reach the goal of reducing child deaths.

Question: Who can mobilize 100 million Christians for the common purpose of helping to keep more children from dying? Christians are in many different churches, working through many different distribution systems. Yet, if more Christians could get the big picture, they could unleash power through their oneness. They could help these children in Jesus’ name by each donating $50 a year through their own distribution channels. But who will ask them to do that?

Answer: A movement to keep more children from dying could start with one church leader making a phone call to one other church leader. Church leaders write lots of books and go to many conferences. However, this movement needs to move from the idea stage to the real stage. And things happen because people talk to each other. So, to start, one church leader has to believe Jesus’ promises enough to pick up the phone and talk to one other church leader about this idea.

Who is that church leader who will make the first phone call to get the ball rolling? There are some possible candidates. God may choose someone not on the “dream team” that empty tomb named in The State of Church Giving through 2011. Still, the people on that list have already shown themselves to be national leaders of influence. They include:

Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek, South Barrington, Illinois, sponsor of the annual Global Leadership Summit, and board chair of the Willow Creek Association.

Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and also the Billy Graham Association.

Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, past president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and past chair of the board of Catholic Relief Services.

Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, former general secretary and currently serving as associate for ecumenical relations, of the Reformed Church in America, and a founding energy in Christian Churches Together.

Eileen Lindner, former Associate General Secretary for Christian Unity in the office of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. General Secretary, and NCC Deputy General Secretary and Director of Research and Planning; currently editor of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

Samuel Rodriquez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA, having written about the “five giants” of global need.

Representatives from two other parts of the body of Christ in the U.S. would be very important in such a movement. Those two parts are:

African-American Protestants. One nationally visible leader is T.D. Jakes. Another possibility would be a representative from the Conference of National Black Churches.

The Orthodox Church. Because of its structure, it may be appropriate to contact His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, for a recommendation, if it is not clear from other ecumenical settings who would be a likely leader located in the U.S.

More background and the church member giving and membership research behind these ideas are available in The State of Church Giving through 2011. Chapter 8 of that book is available for download here including the baby photos.

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October 11, 2013

The idea is pretty basic: Jesus loves the little children of the world. Therefore, church people should, and could, be doing more about the number of children dying around the globe before age five. Too many of these little ones still die from preventable conditions.

That’s where the church in the U.S. can come in. There are support documents below to describe this idea in more detail. First, here is a brief outline.

Why?

  1. The world is asking for help: In 1990 and again in 2000, world leaders said that a top priority for the global community should be reducing global child deaths. Right now, the world is failing in this task. There is a gap between the goal set for reducing child deaths and the reality. That means in 2014, an estimated 2,297,991 children under age five will die who will not die if this gap between goal and reality is closed. World leaders need help in closing the gap.
  2. The world has found out where the children are dying: Global agencies have provided a country-by-country analysis of where the child deaths are, and what is causing them. There are 74 countries that account for 96% of these deaths. Two of the biggest killers are diarrhea and pneumonia. Both can be treated. The problem is getting the assistance to the children who need it. (See pp. 148-155 of The State of Church Giving through 2011, 23rd Edition, chapter 8.
  3. The world has estimated a cost: Experts have estimated that an additional $5 billion a year could reduce global child deaths and close the gap between the goal and reality.

Why should the church help?

  1. Jesus met people at their point of need: In Matthew 20:32, Jesus asks the blind men, “What do you want me to do for you?” If the body of Christ asks the world, “What do you want us to do for you?” the question has already been answered: reduce the rate of global child deaths.
  2. The church has a widespread delivery system. Denominations and Christian para-congregational organizations are on the frontlines all over the globe. Expanding the work through these already established delivery channels is not only efficient, it also means the help can get there in Jesus’ name and get there soon. Each denomination could keep doing its own work while working in a parallel and coordinated way with other Christian groups to get the help to where the children will die if they are not helped.
  3. The church is one of the largest identity groups in the U.S. Few other groups in the U.S. could launch a campaign for 100 million people each to give an additional $50 a year and have any hope of success. The church can. Christians can give this additional $50 a year each through their own congregations to be sent through their own denominational channels to expand their own denomination’s work on the frontlines of reducing the number of global child deaths. In 187 denominations, there are 152 million members (see Executive Analysis 4 of 4 below). So the church, through the oneness that Jesus prayed for in John 17:20-23, has been empowered to raise the money needed. Since the denominations would be working in a parallel and coordinated way with other denominations and para-congregational groups on the most efficient ways to deliver the help to all the 74 countries where 96% of the deaths occur, the donating Christians can be confident that their donations will be used in the best way possible.

The following documents were developed as part of the release of the new book, The State of Church Giving through 2011: The Kingdom of God, Church Leaders and Institutions, Global Triage Needs, and the Promises of Jesus  • 23rd Edition, October 2013 (Champaign, IL: empty tomb, inc.).

The church member giving and membership analyses in that book found that church member giving in the U.S. was down in 2011, compared to 2010. As a percent of income, church member giving was at its lowest point in the 1968-2011 period. And membership as a percent of U.S. population was declining between 1968 and 2011.

However, the book concludes that the focus should not be on techniques to change these trends:

The potential, rather than decline, should be the focus of church leaders. It is important to use the statistics to take the temperature of the church. However, the next step is to evaluate how to get well, not hide under the covers. The State of Church Giving through 2011, p. 162.

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Support Documents

Here are some documents that give more information about the giving and membership trends, and also explore the potential for church leaders to mobilize a movement of 100 million Christians in the U.S. to help reduce global child deaths.

Executive Summary: The State of Church Giving through 2011: The Kingdom of God, Church Leaders and Institutions, Global Triage Needs, and the Promises of Jesus  • 23rd Ed. (Champaign, IL: empty tomb, inc, Oct. 2013)

Executive Analysis 1 of 4: Issues Raised by the Findings in The State of Church Giving through 2011: Highlights from Chapter 8

Note: Chapter 8 of The State of Church Giving through 2011 is available here

Executive Analysis 2 of 4: Issues Raised by the Findings in The State of Church Giving through 2011: Why Is This Information Important and What Does It Mean for You and Your Communion?

Executive Analysis 3 of 4: Issues Raised by the Findings in The State of Church Giving through 2011: An Overview of the Risks in Mobilizing the Church in the U.S. in This Age of Affluence

Executive Analysis 4 of 4: Issues Raised by the Findings in The State of Church Giving through 2011: Allocation List: How 187 Communions with Their Inclusive Membership x $50 Could Provide at Least the Additional $5 Billion Needed Annually to Help, in Jesus’ Name, Reduce Global Child Deaths to Close the Gap between Goal and Reality

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June 1, 2013

Results of the May 2013 "Mobilizing Church Leader + 100 Million Christians in U.S. + $50 Each in 2013, 2014, and 2015 + Church Delivery Channels = 2.9 Million Children Under 5 Who Won’t Die Around the World" Email Feedback Campaign

As noted previously in the May 2013 Details, the plan was to post the "names of Christian church leaders mentioned in email responses to the 5/1/2013 Press Release as leaders who could mobilize 100 million Christians to give $50 each through their established church channels in 2013, 2014, and 2015 to help prevent up to 2.9 million child deaths."

As of May 31, 2013, a single email suggesting names of church leaders was received. The email was from a man who said he was writing on behalf of his wife and himself. They offered the following feedback:

… Either Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton. Both have worldwide stature and respect. Both have raised vast sums of money for their post-presidential humanitarian work, and both have achieved some measure of success in their endeavors.

What’s next?

The one unacceptable option is for there to be no option. The children continue to die while church data suggests the strength of the church is weakening with no positive agenda for the affluence that engulfs church members in the U.S. Neither the children nor the church in the U.S. can afford for Christians in the U.S. to ignore the need for at-scale mobilization.

The results, or rather the result, of this feedback campaign support a longstanding observation, that there is a vacuum of leadership in the church in the U.S. That is, when given an opportunity, many church members did not immediately offer the name of one or more church leaders who could inspire them to action. The two leaders who were cited, while both laymen who have described themselves as Christians, have pursued careers primarily through politics and government rather than through the institutional church.

Yet it is in the institutional church where members congregate and support effective, though underutilized, global delivery systems. And it is through the institutional church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that both word and deed witness can be combined, giving glory to the Father through Jesus Christ, in keeping with New Testament admonitions to act on confessed faith.

So the key question remains: How can the incredible power for good resident in church members be mobilized through the institutional church on behalf of the 2.9 million children who will die in 2013, 2014, and 2015, if those resources are not mobilized?

And while we’re at it, for only a fraction of the cost of reducing child deaths, the unengaged unreached people groups can be engaged as well.

The feedback campaign was the latest effort toward this mobilization.

The next step will build on this one. Stay tuned.

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May 2013

To be posted here when available after May 31, 2013: The names of Christian church leaders mentioned in email responses to the 5/1/2013 Press Release as leaders who could mobilize 100 million Christians to give $50 each through their established church channels in 2013, 2014, and 2015 to help prevent up to 2.9 million child deaths.

5/1/2013 Press Release Text

Details for 5/1/2013 Press Release "Fact 4: A gift of $50 a year from each of 100 million church members would provide the amount needed to reduce these child deaths by as many as 2.9 million."

Details for 5/1/2013 Press Release "Fact 6: The causes of under-5 child deaths are known for the 74 countries where 96 percent of these deaths occur. Low-cost treatment remedies are available to prevent many of these deaths."

For one writer's take on this email campaign, copy this address into your browser URL line:
http://www.thetimesherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013305100037

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