My prayer is that as a result of reading this post,
- You will be kept from falling prey to the manipulations and exploitations going on in last days charismatic churches.
- That you will give offerings that are acceptable and pleasing to God.
Let me begin by outlining the reasons behind the massive exploitation going on in the churches today.
3 Reasons Churches and Pastors Exploit their Members
#1. Personal Needs
Like everyone else, Pastors face financial and other challenges. They have bills to pay, families to take care of, and so on. Yet, and quite commendably, most of them have nothing else doing except the work of the ministry.
However, this creates its own problems. Many so-called full-time ministers, rather than depend on God and live by faith in God’s eternal word, depend totally on tithes, offerings, and the goodwill of members. This is a huge mistake.
Furthermore, a lot of pastors, instead of trimming their personal tastes and preferences in line with God’s word, attempt to compete with oil barons and business magnates. This is also a huge mistake.
If you want to be in full time service to God, then quit trying to live like a drug dealer or government contractor. Cultivate the virtues of humility, meekness, contentment, and patience.
Of course, if you can, it’s ok to develop streams of income that will help keep you from needing to depend on the tithes and offerings of your members. This will help you care for them and teach them the truth without the fear of losing their financial support. But in this regard, you must ensure that such income streams are compatible with the ministry, and will not distract you from the high calling of God.
#2. Ego-driven projects
A lot of church projects, building programmes, events, and so on, were never instructed by God. They were rather borne out of insecurity coupled with the need to impress the world and other perceived competitors.
The devil capitalizes on the high capital-intensive nature of these projects to put pastors under pressure. This then blinds them to the truth. It also renders them insensitive to the sufferings of their members. Inevitably, they transfer these pressures to their members and begin to manipulate and exploit them.
It is high time pastors and churches realized that the Church is people, not buildings, events, or projects. Churches must stop competing with banks, oil companies, and other business enterprises and corporations. The church of Jesus Christ was modeled after the family and human body; not on this world’s financial corporations.
Before undertaking any projects, pastors and church leaders must ensure that they are led by the Holy Spirit of God, and not by their own carnal ambitions.
#3. Selfishness of members
It is the responsibility of believers to voluntarily support the work of God and their pastors. This is a clear obligation from God.
"Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor."
~ Galatians 6:6
As a matter of fact, Jesus Christ actually commanded that preachers should receive their living from the gospel:
13Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
~ 1 Corinthians 9:13,14
Understand this: When you fail to voluntarily and cheerfully support your spiritual ministers, you render these leaders vulnerable to demonic temptations. In other words, just as pastors are guilty of exploiting and manipulating their members, members are also guilty of enabling these behaviours by neglecting their divine obligations towards their leaders. And because most Christians are self-centered and would never give voluntarily, many pastors have succumbed to devilish techniques to exploit the greed, and carnality of their members. This is a significant cause of today’s materialism (aka prosperity) messages. Of course, this is inexcusable; but blames must be apportioned proportionally, and placed where they belong.
The simple fact is that Christians, by failing to voluntarily provide generous support to their leaders, have also contributed to the unethical behaviors of their leaders.
What follows is a simple guideline for giving in the church.
2 Important qualities of giving that is acceptable to God
(1). Voluntary and cheerful.
"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
~2 Corinthians 9:7
Jesus Christ never imposed His yoke upon anyone. He said, “Take my yoke upon you.” In other words, it is voluntary. It is up to you to take it or leave it. Nobody has the right to manipulate, coerce, or force you to give what you do not want to give. It is your choice.
Your attitude is more important to God than your gifts. Ensure that you give voluntarily and cheerfully. Also ensure that you are giving out of the leadership of the Holy Spirit. That is to say, it is not enough to give what you want; ensure that it is what the Holy Spirit has led you to give.
"I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing".
~ King David in 2 Samuel 24:24
Never give cheap and convenient offerings to God.
Bear in mind, however, from the story of the widows mite in (Luke 21:1-4), that cheap is relative to a person’s circumstances.
The Widow’s Offering
1 As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.3 “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Clearly, in God’s sight, what is cheap and convenient for one may be a painful – or even unaffordable – sacrifice for another. The important thing is that whatever your particular circumstance might look like, you must ensure that you do not give God things that cost you nothing. Your giving should be voluntary, cheerful, but sacrificial.
Your greatest offering
In the end, however, understand that the greatest offering you can give to God today is your life. Your soul is more precious to God than any silver or gold this world has to offer. God owns the entire universe. He says that the cattle on a thousand hills belong to Him. All the gold and silver in creation are His. So, He really doesn’t need your cash. What He needs is your heart; your life.
Have you given it yet?