Life in the 21st century is a fast paced, consumer oriented experience where media surrounds us at all times enforcing the idea that happiness is a matter of buying the perfect house, driving the best car, wearing the trendiest clothes and posting status updates on the latest high tech devices.
Everywhere we look we are inundated with “keep up” messages in order to “live the good life.”
And while buying a new gadget or a new car may be satisfying and thrilling for a short while, the thrill always fades and we find ourselves back in the same place of seeking the thrill of the next purchase and the next best thing in hopes of making the feeling last.
So let me pause here for a moment to say …
I can’t help but feel like this is a very similar pattern to what has unfolded within today’s church culture.
Let me repeat the above for comparison sake.
Church in the 21st century is a fast paced, consumer oriented experience where media surrounds us at all times enforcing the idea that meaningful faith is a matter of attending the right church, praying everyday, hearing the best sermons, studying the best Bible studies, volunteering, tithing and posting scripture updates on the latest high tech devices.
Everywhere we look we are inundated with “keep up” messages in order to “live the good faith.”
And while attending a beautiful worship service or attending the latest church plant may be satisfying and thrilling for a short while, the thrill always fades and we find ourselves back in the same place of seeking the thrill of the next experience and the next best thing in hopes of making the feeling last.
See what I mean? Not so different.
When psychologists Tom Gilovich and Leaf Van Boven first made a discovery in 2003 about the importance of experiences rather than things, it awakened a cultural conversation proving that experiences have far greater benefits on ones overall happiness and life satisfaction than the purchases of “stuff.”
Since those findings, pioneering researchers have been building bridges and connecting the dots between this work and new studies to understand why experiences in life are so much better than material goods.
Again I find myself making parallels between this happiness research and my own church observations.
Think about it like this.
You could find yourself faithfully tithing for a solid 10 years without ever emotionally connecting to what it means to give your money to God’s work. Logic knows you give to the building, to the programs, to the salary of the staff and leadership … and you even sit — literally — on your money every Sunday in church (probably in the same section year after year). But it’s easy for tithing to become a “thing” when you see it as nothing more than duty, habit and responsibility rather than something you feel emotionally invested in and connected to.
Tithing however, takes on a whole new look and meaning, and becomes a whole different experience when it’s accompanied by a series of life moments and experiences.
- Like when you find yourself purchasing a hot meal for the homeless man on the side of the curb
- Or when you help build and purchase materials for an orphanage
- Or when you foot the bill for the neighbourhood block party you’re organizing
- Or by even paying for the tow truck because the distressed woman you helped on the side of the road didn’t have AMA.
Is this not what it also means to give your money to God’s work? Are these not also forms of tithing?
The difference is, in these moments of real-life scenarios, you are the leader, the influencer, the advocate and the organizer. You’re not just handing your money over, you’re seeing with your very own eyes where your money is going. Your faith is alive and active. You are emotionally invested. You are in motion. Your money is needed. Tithing therefore becomes a deeply significant connection beyond just duty, habit and responsibility.
So much so, when you read verses of scripture like Proverbs 3:9-10, Luke 6:38 and 2 Corinthians 9:7 — or any other passage about tithing — the words take on a whole new meaning because you have people, places, faces, experiences and deeply cherished memories attached to these words.
So I can’t help but wonder … is this not what it means to collect moments of faith, rather than the things of faith
And it doesn’t just apply to tithing.
There’s a whole list of activities we could dive into if we were serious about creating moments and experiences of faith rather than blindly living out the duties we’ve always lived before.
Note: I don’t write this to judge. Honest. I bring it to light in hopes of stirring your thoughts to think about how much deeper your faith could be and how alive it could become if you saw each avenue of the list below as an opportunity to invite change rather than as a list of habit and conformity.
People who spend time, effort and intention on experiences rather than blindly chasing “things” are far happier and far more fulfilled because the thrill of things can quickly fade. But the joy and memories of experiences, whether an epic adventure or a simple momentary encounter, can last a lifetime.
Things of Faith:
- Reading scripture
- Knowing all the current worship songs
- Going to church every Sunday
- Regularly attending retreats and conferences
- Praying daily prayers
- Talking a good God talk
Moments of Faith:
- Reading scripture … and living it
- Knowing all the current worship songs … and whole-heartedly meaning the lyrics you sing
- Going to church every Sunday … and being The Church Monday-Saturday
- Regularly attending retreats and conferences … and using each yearly registration as accountability and your measurement for growth
- Praying daily prayers … in right relationship and continual conversation
- Volunteering … because you desire to serve Christ in everything you do
- Talking a good God talk … but also walking a good God walk
So I leave you with this challenge:
What moments could you collect if you chose to pursue faith experiences rather than the things of faith?