When I moved to Waupaca 6 years ago I remember getting the Waupaca Post for the first time. The transition from the "Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel" to the "Waupaca Post" was quite a surprise regarding it's size. This is a great local paper though. I am not sure a week goes by without a "look at me" picture in the paper. The way you get your organization in the paper is by making a donation of at least $250.00 to a charity. A picture is taken of you handing the check to the other person and that's it. I think this is a great thing to have when it comes to non-faith based organizations. In my humble opinion this is a great way to show what your organization is doing to help or be helped. But...there is a line.
What I personally don't understand is why churches do this. This usually shows up in a picture of some church making a charitable contribution to a mission, charity, etc. I have seen in different newspapers in different states including our own...a picture of "look at us praying!" This even happens a ton with "See You at the Pole". If your school has a ton of people praying, you are heralded as a huge testimony with pictures and all. If you are the only kid praying...you are heralded as a hero and might even get a speaking gig with your photo being shown. But, if you only have 5 or 6...you are kind of treated as a failure with no picture. But that is another topic.
You know what comes to mind when I hear people bragging about how much they are praying? The whole look at me mentality? What comes to mind is when Jesus spoke in Matthew. Whether a church wants to admit it or not...we play on a different field than say a Humane Society or some other non-faith based organization.
Regarding charitable works...
Matthew 6:1-4(NIV) Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Regarding the "look at me" people that pray to be seen...
Matthew 6:5-8(NIV) And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Ministry leaders can assume because we are advertising our works in the paper, that it will be good promotion, but we are not dealing in the natural. I know for Radiant Fellowship...there are endless things we could put in the paper. I recall one Christmas a few years back we bought a city government office an important piece of office equipment. We were asked if we want a picture in the paper....I declined. The blessing we got from that and the many other things we have done (unseen by the public) has been such a blessing for those involved.
To be clear, I think it is great to promote upcoming events, outreaches, etc. in the paper though most of the time the only one benefiting from that is the company the check is being made out to. If it is an out of the box event though, it may draw a crowd.
I do believe that ministries that flaunt their praying, or works ought to be careful of becoming a very egotistical place. Last I read...pride comes before a ?