“Tune in next week to see if Pastor Smith is still on the air...”
Many times over the years I've been the one behind the pulpit asking people to give. I taught others what I was taught and used the same verses from Malachi chapter 3. But upon further examination of the scriptures, I teach something else today. Church was never, ever meant to be an expensive proposition.
If God has told you specifically to ask for money from people to build a ministry, then so be it. Obey the Lord. Just please make sure it was God speaking and not your own inner voice based on traditions and not the scriptures. See, I find it interesting that in the New Testament, tithing isn't commanded and more often than not, Paul supported himself while fulfilling his ministry. Here's how he put it:
Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: (2 Thessalonians 3:8)
In my opinion, some church leaders sound too much like politicians. “We need your money to pay for our programs,” “XYZ Church needs a love offering to keep broadcasting” or “The new Fellowship Center won't be completed on time if we don't have your generous donation this week!”
Did Jesus preach that? Uh...no.
I wonder how many business people shake their heads at how churches operate today. Organizational leaders ask or beg for offerings to build facilities that on average, only get used a few times per week. Does that seem wise? Is that biblical? Let's review the words of Christ...
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:20)
Do you read anything about building buildings in that verse? How about creating 501(c)(3) Charitable organizations? Or are we commanded to give to the latest, greatest church fundraiser idea? I don't see it either. However, I do see teaching and baptizing others to teach and baptize. None of which requires great expense.
Giving should come from our hearts cheerfully to where we see needs, and not out of guilt or because a TV preacher tearfully pleads for it. If a “ministry” folds because of a lack of funds, it probably should have – long before it did. That may sound cold, but folks, God isn't in some of our endeavors of faith. The church of Jesus Christ becomes much more true and real when money and prestige are taken out it.
Now, playing devil's advocate, it is a biblical principle to give to those who have helped us to grow spiritually, but let's have the right heart about it like Paul...
If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:11-12)
I wonder how many ministries would keep going if offerings stopped coming in. If they did keep going, I wonder how many would run more efficiently.
My fellow ministers, let's keep our eyes on serving the body of Christ as best we can for as long as we can whether others give or not. Let obedience to our Master and future heavenly rewards be enough incentive for us to labor on until he comes.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 15:58)
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