From your posted testimony, it is unclear to what degree you have given your word specifically to your pastor that you support his decision to assume a high debt load.
As a member I never spoke up to the elders about 'buying' the church, but was not in favor of it because of what God was showing me about money, home church and other related topics. I guess I gave my non-verbal support by not speaking against it. I assume the leadership was going to do what they wanted and not listen to one person who was against buying a building. I have always had trouble with church buildlings, finances in the church, not going to more eternal purposes. I am learning here, as well as humility.
a Jesus freak
| 2005/8/29 14:42||Profile|
| Re: "enforced" tithing?|
I experienced a similar situation a few years ago at the church that I attended at the time.
The pastor had begun experimenting with some radical elements of the modern "prosperity" message (which I totally disagreed with). He attended one of the "[i]faith[/i]" conventions in Tulsa (home of the Copelandites, Haginites and Duplantisites, etc...). Of course, the bulk of the messages at the convention concerned physical "blessings" (money, houses, cars, etc...). One of the preachers told the listeners that he sometimes asks his congregation to hold their offerings [i]above their heads[/i]. Then he tells everyone to look around. He then asks, "Now, are you embarassed of your gift to the Lord? If so, then reach into your pocket and [b]give more[/b]!" This prosperity preacher also boasted that he checks the tax rolls to see who is giving the most, because "[i]those who give the most are always blessed[/i]."
So the pastor came home and did the [u]same[/u] [u]thing[/u]! Of course, in our church, this caused quite a bit of offense. The Pastor even [i]called people into his office[/i] to discuss their giving habits (or what he thought was a [i]lack[/i] of giving). Eventually, he called me into his office too. He asked me why I was not giving more to the Lord. I told him that I am extremely dedicated to my tithe -- but that I usually pay it in cash, using unmarked envelopes. The pastor looked at me quite skeptically. He asked, "Well, what am I supposed to tell people who ask me if you are paying your tithe?" I told the pastor, "Well, you can tell them that it is none of their business. Tithing is between me and the Lord." I explained my beliefs about giving -- that it should be done in secret, and without an "investment attitude" (wanting to [b]give so that you can get[/b]). The pastor became quite frustrated by my comments. "So you don't think that anyone should know what you give?" he asked. I told him that I don't feel that I need to give an account to anyone of my giving other than God -- and God alone. I told the pastor that he should trust me at my word (that I do indeed tithe), and that if he doesn't, I could always go somewhere where the pastor is more trusting of his congregation.
The pastor rather quickly said, "No, no...don't do that! I am just wanting to see if people are tithing or not." I suggested that he might consider the notion that some people might hold the same idea that I do about giving in secret. He dismissed that, saying it sounded very "silly."
Eventually, the pastor became quite engrossed in extreme beliefs about the modern prosperity movement. He started stating that all sickness is the result of hidden sin, and that if you are truly serving God with faith, your shoes. clothes, cars, houses and even your body will never get old. He even began teaching that your material possessions are a direct reflection of your spiritual life -- the more you have, the more faith you have. This became one of the factors that made me realize that my beliefs differed too much from the church. I eventually left that church and began attending another church in the town.
You might let your pastor know what you believe about giving -- whether you think that it is a private matter or not. I just don't like the thought about giving so "proudly." It reminds me so much of the rich men giving at the Temple out of their abundance.
| 2005/8/29 16:15||Profile|
Thanks for sharing this... I'm not alone..
My pastor has said that "we are always tithing and that we either tithe to God or ourselves/satan, etc." And that we too will reap the consequences if we don't tithe, such as problems with finances... It's like tithing is a magic pill which I have believed for quite some time... If I tithe, my finances will be great and I'll be fine... (which has not been the case for me even when I have been tithing) or God will curse your finances because you are sinning against God and stealing from Him by not tithing to your "local church" that you attend and are a member of...
A year ago when I was in our monthly men's meeting before we the church buildling was purchased we had to fill out a piece of paper stating what we would be tithing each week so that they could budget their church expenses. About 3 months ago when I was not tithing due to shortages of finances, the financial deacon confronted me on my "change of giving patterns" and asked me what's up. I said, that I had to use my credit card to buy groceries and that I have been hurting financially but that I would give as able...
I have a phone meeting with my pastor this Wednesday to 'discuss' this. Pray for me.
I'll keep you posted.
a Jesus freak
| 2005/8/29 16:33||Profile|
| Re: maybe you need to receive for a time|
I said, that I had to use my credit card to buy groceries and that I have been hurting financially but that I would give as able...
Perhaps it is the church's responsibility to help YOU. I think that is a biblical principle. (I'm trying to find the reference.) If people give properly, then no one is in need. It is not wrong to be on the side of need. But it is ALWAYS wrong to give out of obligation. It is wrong for anyone to use manipulation, domination, and control to squeeze money out of people.
To give to the church out of obligation and pressure is like spiritual adultery - betraying your loyalty to God. God says it is wrong, wrong, wrong. So you would be just as sinful to give if God doesn't want you to, as the pastor who seduces you to give.
If all Christians followed these Biblical principles then there wouldn't be so many false prophets on the loose.
| 2005/8/29 16:58||Profile|
| 2005/8/29 17:11||Profile|
I find the examples of George Muller and Hudson Taylor inspiring. Niether believed in asking people for the finances for their ministries - They asked God instead.
A true ministry is God's project, not man's. As it is His project, I can't believe that He will not provide for it - even if a few church members are "unfaithful" in their giving.
For me, if church leadership needs to press the congregation for money, they are declaring they don't trust God, or that they are not working on His project....perhaps both.
Sadly the enforced "giving" issue has given Christians a very bad testimony. Many non-Christian's sincerely doubt the integrity of Christian organisations. Some of these may otherwise have been reached with the gospel.
Interestingly, the majority of the instructions Jesus gave the 12 He sent to announce the Kingdom, (and later the 72) had to do with the handling of finances. It looks like Jesus saw the mishandling of (or depending on) finances as the biggest threat to the preaching of the gospel.
| 2005/8/29 17:31||Profile|
| Re: threat to the Gospel|
Quote:What a loaded statement! So, it is not merely a case of wasting our money when we give indiscriminately, or even of building unnecessary buildings.
Jesus saw the mishandling of (or depending on) finances as the biggest threat to the preaching of the gospel.
It is a case of damaging our faith - our most precious commodity - more precious than gold. And it is a case of violating God and his purposes.
I was deeply troubled by the earlier examples of spiritual manipulation within the church. Surely God is not blind to this. There will be consequences.
We can do our part by not enabling the problem through our passive compliance, and by seeking God and his ways with all our heart, soul and mind. If we are free from the praise and criticism of man, we will not be swayed so easily.
And, we can survive quite will without our church - even if we were excommunicated for "disobedience". We don't need to feel like God is going to punish us if we don't comply with the leaders' wishes.
| 2005/8/29 19:20||Profile|
I know first hand of a ministry that takes an offering after almost every service. It has been said at this place that you should always give the people a chance to be blessed by giving them a chance to give to the Lord. Often the offerings are very small.
This same ministry buys bus tickets for people who are stranded. It also buys meals and sometimes motel rooms for hitchhikers and others who are in need, of which there are quite a few. Once, there was a stranded lady with a toddler and a new born baby. There were airplane tickets bought to get them all back to Minnesota from Pennsylvania. In doing all this often there is no money at hand. It flips me out watching this but the Lord always provides.
In saying all this, I believe that Jesus has fulfilled the law of tithe but I'm ever so glad to see someone give his or her tithe when this ministry is up against the wall.
It's only what is done for Christ that will last.
| 2005/8/29 20:16||Profile|
The Pastor even called people into his office to discuss their giving habits.
Perhaps it is the church's responsibility to help YOU. I think that is a biblical principle...It is not wrong to be on the side of need.
I believe some pastors should reflect on the influence they have on the conscience of sincere Christians. Some pastors can wield their spiritual authority to make Christian men hesitant to provide for their own families or provide for neighbors in need because apparently the Kingdom needs new carpet.
It's uncanny. Some university should do a psychological study on this phenomenon.
Thanks Gary for an encouraging testimony!
| 2005/8/29 20:34||Profile|
| Re: links|
Quote:I think it's been done:
Some university should do a psychological study on this phenomenon.
[url=http://www.geocities.com/hotsprings/3658/question.html]Uncovering churches that abuse[/url]
[url=http://www.spiritualabuse.org/introduction.html]Spiritual Abuse [/url]
Does this help?
| 2005/8/29 20:44||Profile|