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Mailbag

Issue: "The Road to Damascus," Sept. 21, 2002

Give and take

We have sacrificed much in our giving ("Shame on us," Aug. 24). Our mailboxes overflow with requests for money and, when we comply, our confidential information is sold to other ministries without our permission, and we receive taped phone messages from ministry leaders. Phone solicitors pressure us if we won't give to their "immediate" need and resent being asked to mail us the material so we can pray about it. There is no end to the bribes of artwork, free books, and meaningless trinkets used to entice us to give sizeable offerings. The last time I tried to give a financial gift to a ministry, they wanted access to my credit card so they could deduct the amount on a monthly basis. There is no joy in giving when you feel as if you are being taken. - Lois Jordan, Coloma, Mich.

Kudos to Joel Belz. I've watched Americans pat themselves on the back for miserly levels of charity for far too long. As a church treasurer at a struggling mission congregation, I can only imagine what we could do if the congregation merely matched the Old Testament standard of tithing. Instead, like Americans in general, we imagine a pittance of 3 percent of our income makes us worthy philanthropists. The surprising observation that the poor in America give a greater proportion of their income than the rich only highlights our abuse of prosperity. - Eric Blievernicht, Terre Haute, Ind.

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I was a frequent contributor to a major national ministry until a month ago. I attended its annual conferences, gave willingly, and even volunteered much of my time. Then I found out that it is paying its top two executives well over $100,000 annually, more than double what I make. This from an organization claiming it was in a major financial crisis and might shut down. When I am making more then these nonprofit executives, then maybe I'll return to my giving ways. - Phillip Woeckener, Ashburn, Va.

Blaine, Blaine, go away

In the sense that all schools teach and promote values, all schools, including government schools, are religious schools. When we get some judges who can figure this out, perhaps the Blaine amendments will be struck down. Then we might become free to use our own money to send our children to the schools of our choice, rather than being forced through the tax system to support financially government schools that teach and promote a religion that is contrary and hostile to our faith ("Ghost busting," Aug. 24). - Tom Tubbesing, Lee's Summit, Mo.

Games adults play

As a youth worker for all of my adult life, I concur with Gene Edward Veith's critique of the "gross out" fad in youth ministry ("Stupid church tricks," Aug. 24). I have avoided that approach, seeing it as contrary to my commission before God. Another example: A national youth organization's video curriculum for teaching youth to evangelize their peers included a segment where the rather wacky professor addressed the viewers while seated on the toilet (stall door closed) with his pants down around his shoes. However, I believe Mr. Veith is off the mark in saying that the game "Pull Apart" has "odd homosexual subtexts." There are no more such subtexts in "Pull Apart" than in football, wrestling, or any other contact sport. - Richard Nazarenus, Newberry Springs, Calif.

I feel that Mr. Veith's column misrepresented our ministry. TheSourceForYouthMinistry.com is helping overworked, underappreciated, and underresourced youth workers reach teens with the message of Jesus Christ. Mr. Veith focused his article on a small part of our website, the games that offended him. I would have appreciated at least a mention of the majority of our website, free resources for youth workers who have no budget and little time. As for gross games, they can be bad for ministry if they serve no purpose. They are simply a vehicle to reach youth. If the vehicle ever distracts from the purpose, it's the wrong vehicle. - Jonathan McKee, The Source For Youth Ministry, Sacramento, Calif.

I commend WORLD for writing about the youth-group problem. It seems that years ago youth groups were handed over to immature leadership and, if parents questioned, they were told they didn't understand what kids really wanted. One speaker told us lay youth leaders in training to have a water balloon in your pants and, while speaking to the group, slowly let the water out so it looks like you are wetting your pants. I see how ideas have become more inappropriate. Sadly, for many kids this damages their view of church and leadership. As my son told me many years ago, "Why would I want to go to a place where adults are trying to act like children?" - Donna Curran, Poway, Calif.

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