Credit By Association

I’ve been noticing lately — at many churches, not just the ones I’ve attended — that some people believe in “credit by association.”

They will say proudly, “Our church has a great missions program!”or “Our church has a great ministry to disadvantaged kids in our community!” — when the reality is that the people saying this don’t really have anything to do with these ministries, either materially or spiritually. They are not the ones doing the actual ministry; sometimes, they are not even giving financially to support those who do. Yet they believe they somehow get credit by association with the congregation. They sit in the worship service and listen to reports of these various works, proudly enjoying good feelings from good deeds done by others.

But the way I read the Bible, we are all called — no, commanded — to go, to give, to make disciples. True, we can do more when we pool our resources, but there is no credit by association. As leaders, do we let individuals off the hook for their personal responsibility and ministry? Do we let them delegate ministry to the paid staff, the “hard-core” Christians, or to the church as an organization? And do we assume our own credit by association?


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