Today’s churches are not content with small membership that they can be sure are true practicing Christians. They are not interested in small branches either. Church growth targets are more about good financial standing than about depopulating hell and discipleship. High church attendance equals growth in offertory and that’s where the story ends.
Church growth targets are more tailored to either profit-making projects or merely having the biggest auditorium (membership), usually under the guise of the word of God reaching many. Need we talk about the expensive popularity-influenced programme advertisements, hyped conferences and expensive guest speakers and “ministers”? Oh, big edifices are good especially because it would attract rich and high class people to the Church. Don’t we know rich people are attracted to the appearance of church buildings and repelled by sloppy appearances and concerned about where their expensive cars get parked; and of course not in the parking lot of a Church with cheap edifice/architecture?
Stationary pastors who no longer go out to the field, the hinterlands to propagate the gospel but are content with once-a-year evangelism programmes that never get to rural areas. Going to and setting up churches in rural areas is not lucrative enough. Of course that would defeat the business model operation of the Church. Right? Pastors no longer honour invitations to rural Churches to go and preach because there’s no financial incentive.
Sunday praise and worship sessions so short and so not as uplifting compared to the spirit-filled experience you have playing same songs or listening to them on radio in your closet. Choirs interested in setting aside other times aside normal Sunday services for high cost worship/praise programmes 12 times in a year to entertain themselves (very little outside folks or sinners attending), under the guise of it serving as a means of evangelism.
Funny church membership rules linked closely to financial obligations under the guise of the church burying members when they die, or attending/officiating their celebrations, etc. Membership never comes into question during the collection of the many offerings they have instituted like Sunday/Mid-week offertories, special offerings, tithes, appeal for funds, “covenant offerings”, “first fruit offerings”, thanksgiving offerings, “annual harvest contributions”, church building offerings, Pastor’s appreciation offerings, Pastor’s car offerings, pastor’s birthday offerings, “all night service offerings”, “deliverance service offerings”, etc but only when a “member” who has fulfilled all those responsibilities dies or falls into some category of need. Then the Church says “where is your membership card and record of contributions?” Then they say “yes, we agree he’s been attending this Church for so long but because he’s not a “card-bearing” member, we are not obligated to do one, two and three”.
When the Pastor is so rich with material things but the members lack both material and spiritual things then something must be wrong? When after all those contributions or offertories the monies end up in buying private planes and jets to fly high in luxury, buying and riding exotic cars and living in expensive mansions when members live in abject poverty, then something must be wrong? When the monies are even used to build universities that are then priced so high members children themselves cannot afford; when the Pastor now preaches more motivational messages than salvation messages and more about how to make it in this life than how to make it to Heaven, must we start getting worried??
Well I don’t know. But I guess I could be right to say that there is an increasing perception among Church members that the Church is increasingly becoming unconcerned about their lives in the public sphere and only interested in their monies. Whatever they go through to make ends meet is no business of the Church but what they must give to the Church is what’s important to the Church. After all, the Pastor will find a way to tell you God will always provide even when you give all your money to Him every month and go home empty. And you must give because all the money you have belongs to God.
Some say Churches now only command compulsory financial obligations and not willful giving. Some say the church is now so interested in money and profits that it’s a shame they even request two offertories at church wedding ceremonies of their own “members” and later give them some very meager amount as the church’s own donation because they are not “welfare contributors”. As if that is not “shameful” enough, the new trend is Churches collecting two offertories at funerals! Two offertories: one for the Church, one for the bereaved family. So funeral grounds are also now money making grounds for the Church?
Some say they can bet their lives that there can never be a “no offertory Sunday” ever in their Church and wonder if money making and profiting is not increasingly being the focus of the church, then why can’t that happen.
Some bemoan the “psychological methods” used by Pastors or Churches in extorting from members instead of biblical willful giving and the imposition of levies on members like in secular associations/organizations.
Some say they understand the Church has fiscal responsibilities but there’s a difference between the Church having fiscal responsibilities and the Church operating a business model and thus if we try to operate the Church as a business, we will find ourselves at odds with God’s design.
Again some have observed that the new trend is to find Pastors now preaching that complaining about giving to God (they mean themselves or the church they mismanage) or not giving to God so much that you feel it cost you like David did is a sin/unfaithfulness.
What’s true however (and perhaps the Pastor cares less about) is that, when people feel like they are only being used for their finances, they will eventually leave the Church. Trust me; it will not be hard to find that most highly successful (rich) church members share the sentiment that the only value their Pastors seem to place on them is the fact that their tithe pumps so much money into the Church or their pockets. There’s a reason why most billionaires either don’t go to Church or choose to give their tithes to foundations or non-profit charities they have created and the reason is simply the financial mismanagement of the tithe/monies by the Church, and the lack of accountability thereof. They wonder why they give millions to the Church yet the “food they have put in God’s storehouse” never feeds the poor, needy and deprived in the same Church they give to. They wonder why the Church will rather focus on building big edifices and holding wasteful programmes with the money and not feed the poor and needy in the Church instead.
What’s the calling of the Church again? I keep forgetting because all I keep seeing is Churches running like corporate businesses.
Well, I guess the line between church and business is too thin that it gets so confusingly messy! Whatever the case is, watch out for manipulative Churches and Pastors and don’t let the Church decide your destiny. The Church cannot take you to Heaven; only Christ will.
My simple rule is: Don’t do Church; Do Christ!
© Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017
Marriage & Personal Development Author
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