The Conference as the Storehouse?
Editorial by Bob Cundiff
A few months ago, I sat through an excellent Sabbath School discussion where we tackled the tricky question of “the conference as the storehouse.” You can imagine how my role as conference president and guest speaker for the day adds spice to any discussion in which the conference can be seen as the beneficiary.
The study presented the usual questions: “Where is the storehouse? Why is it there?
Is that biblical?” As I listened to the discussion, a question arose in my mind that seemed to inform the discussion in a way that I found helpful. Rather than being a question of geography (Where is it?), our position on this question is informed by our identity (Who are we?).
If our identity does not include the understanding that our local church is a part of a larger sisterhood of churches, it feels funny to send our tithe to a “store- house” that is outside of our local church. In fact, storing what God has entrusted to us in someone else’s storehouse calls our stewardship into ques- tion. If our identity as a local church ends at the local church, it makes sense that the church’s money stays local. As such, it would be natural for an independent congregation to build its own storehouse to serve the community in which that congregation primarily functions and ministers.
But if we are a part of a larger community, it would be natural to store our tithe in the larger community’s storehouse. This is because we see the mission field of the local church broader than the footprint of the local church. This idea of a mission field larger than my local community has always informed the identity of Adventism.
With such an identity in place, we can contribute to the larger community’s storehouse with joy rather than resentment. Our new identity as a part of the larger community opens us to the reality that we are stronger together and can accomplish far more in terms of mission that we ever could as a single congregation.