Church Giving - My Personal Observations
After forty five years in the ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ, my wife and I have seen and concluded several things. We do not claim that we have seen it all, and note that we have probably added somewhat to the dilemma of the current state of the church, by the foolish things we have done and regret doing. But here are some of the things that we personally have observed.
In a small booklet entitled THE LIVING BODY by Dr Roy Halverson, who was the Chaplin to the American Senate for many years, at his retirement he stated somewhat disillusioned The Church is no longer an organism, it has become an organization, a machine. It is no longer a relational body but has degenerated into an institutional body. He made a very impacting statement by saying:
The church of Jesus Christ began in Palestine as a movement.
At the end of the first century those who had the helm of the church steered it into Greece and it became a philosophy.
Later in the third century again those who commandeered the helm steered it into Rome and it became an institution
Then in the middle ages, once more the political controllers steered it into Europe and it became a culture.
Finally the helm was seized by the powers of the church and steered it into America and it became an enterprise.
This is not the church I want or will belong to, it is against the very principles of scripture and I believe anathema to the very heart of God. I watch these slick television evangelists with their dyed hair and their Armani suits and white shoes as they tickle the people and sell their snake oil for money. They throw out the crumbs and watch folk flock at their feet, clamoring to get some of the tit bits and whilst doing so, these predators, like cats in the night, come in for the kill.
I sat with the governor general in a nation around five years ago and listened while he begged me to try and stop TBN Christian Television Network beaming into his country. I told him I do not have the power or contacts to do that let alone gain their attention that they should listen to me. Then I heard his reason for that request. He told me that after many of these tele-evangelists had come to his land they raised support for their organizations with devious and fraudulent means by promising the people such things as elderships and formal diplomas in return for sending them a specific amount of money each year. He told me of the millions of US dollars that were flowing out of his country and how many of the national pastors had to leave their churches and go back to work as the support was no longer there in the pulpits for them.
I come back from overseas and watch this pantomime called Christianity being played out on the stages of many churches and feel a sense of shame as this is the church I belong to. We wonder why it is that for all the activity in our fellowships the statistics show the actual Christian religion is retreating and dying in the west. At the self same time these polished orchestras of contempt lull and coerce their congregations to the slaughterhouse with promises of prosperity and power. They lead the sheep to the very edge of the abyss itself and then step back as Judas sheep, allowing the innocent to fall over the edge, destroyed both by them and then ultimately by hell itself. Not a day goes by now in my travel that I do not confront the deceit and fraudulent lies of slick pickpocket preachers that have made a life of fleecing and greasing people for their own ends and the tragedy is, many of those effected will never darken a church door again. The testimony of Christianity through out the world now is mocked and scoffed at, especially in Muslim countries, and we are so blind and dense we can not figure out why. This conceited blindness envelopes America almost completely.
The church has become a habitation of devils. At one extreme we have the religious bigots dressed in their gowns and robes who pontificate about their righteousness and tradition irrespective of their denomination, and at the other extreme we have the artful Christian pickpockets and fortune tellers promising success to all and sundry. The Bible reminds us of Gods heart when it states "I sought for a man to stand in the gap but found no man", and further, "the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth seeking for someone whom He might show himself strong on behalf of", and still further the cry of the lost themselves, No man cares for my soul. We the church are to busy building our bigger barns and filling our earthly coffers, to be seeking an invisible intangible city not of this world. Our lust for power and finance devours every unrelenting moment here on earth. And why shouldn’t it, we are building Christ’s church here on earth they tell us, that is the nonsense modern Christianity and its salesmen have espoused "Dominion now theology."
As a young preacher I determined never to ask for money and never to take an offering for myself and last but not least in the order of things, never to make my needs known to people to coerce them wherever I went. I also endeavored to go where ever there was an open door and regardless of where that place was, third world or otherwise irrespective of whether I would cover my costs or note. But I have learned this - most rich people do not part with their money easily and if they do they want verified evidence that it goes where it is supposed to and they want to know it is productive and evidenced by a visible return. I am not suggesting we are not to be accountable. I accept that much dishonour has come to the church because of a lack of accountability, but these rich people want a return for their money and to them it is an investment, which is how they think. Well I have news for them, offerings are given to God, not to men and although we must be careful who we support many of the charlatans and preachers that I mention at the beginning of this article have become that way because they resented living on the dregs and struggling to survive on hand me downs and leftovers. They decided there has to be something in it for them. So they turned their ministries into profitable business making ventures, creating a den of thieves by merchandising and franchising the house of God.
When deciding to give your support make sure it is where you are fed and nurtured biblically, give your tithes or as I prefer to call them, gifts of appreciation unreservedly knowing as the scripture states you give unto God and from God you will receive the reward (and it is to the house where you are fed and shepherded, not anywhere else, but let me add here if you are not being fed and shepherded get out and find someone who will, someone who preaches the truth and loves his people) It amazes me the number of folk I meet that complain to me that they feel unwanted and are demeaned in a congregation where no appreciation is shown to them yet they remain there and allow this charade to carry on.
VOTE WITH YOUR FEET GET OUT AND GO SOMEWHERE WHERE YOU ARE FED AND SHEPHERDED. They could not carry on doing this if you no longer supported their agenda and lifestyle. A final thought about the rich. They do not give out of their lack, they give of their abundance. I once heard a foolish preacher say, ‘I have a grievance with God. He tells us to give to the poor, but the poor cannot be trusted with it. Give it to the rich and they will go and invest it and make more’. What blasphemy is this? God states he who gives to the poor lends unto God and God will repay.
Another thing I have learnt, mostly it is not the rich that give and support ministries, it is the poor. I have sat with the richest people on this planet and most have never considered I might have a need even while I have laboured in ministry to serve them, but I have also sat with the poorest of this world and watched their joy as they have tried to exhort me to take the only things of earthly significance they own. I have felt so ashamed and so distressed as I have been unable to persuade them otherwise. DO YOU KNOW WHAT I HAVE REALLY LEARNT; I HAVE LEARNED IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE. He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he can not lose.