My dad was known to have a saying for everything. One of my least favorites as a kid was, “Allow your conscience to be your guide.” Great advice. But, I hated it. Some were a little more colorful, but still good advice, such as, “Tell them to go…” wait….that one might be inappropriate for here! But what he always said when something seemed amiss in government or business was, “Follow the dollar.” His theory was that if you really wanted to know what was going on, follow the money trail and it will lead you to the truth of the matter. The older I get, the more I find that this piece of advice seems to be sadly true…even in churches.
Yep. I’m going there.
I wrote in my post yesterday that, right now, the home churches seem to be closer to getting the whole church thing right than do the “institutional” churches. I want to clarify that I believe what the Bible says about the church: Christ is the head and we are the body. All the we’s. Me and you and everyone else who is truly a follower of Christ.
Note that I didn’t say Christian. I’ve found that a whole lot of people have attached that name to themselves who have no relationship with Jesus. Jesus said we’d know who was His by the love they show and the fruit they produce. I’m here to tell you that if a person has more rotten fruit in their life than good, I’m going to be questioning their walk with the Lord….and so should you!
So, back to the church. Take a step back and look at churches whose pastors have to depend on the income from the church to make a living. No, I’m not saying pastors shouldn’t be paid! But, I am saying that when a person goes from preaching/teaching/leading out of a heart for the Lord to doing it as a job, it can skew things. Look at it this way: If a church pays their pastor a salary and that’s his only source of income, it becomes a job. We instinctively do what it takes to do our job and protect our job because we know we need money to live. It changes our perspective. As the church grows, more people are paid salaries. Which means more people are depending on the money brought into the church to make a living. Then, it can start looking suspiciously like a business. I’ve seen too many churches run like a business. And I just don’t believe you can properly reach hearts if you’re too worried about how much money is going to be given at a service.
All that being said, I don’t necessarily think that all preachers or pastors who make their living that way are bad or wrong or not doing their job well. I don’t. But, we have a lot who are misleading large amounts of people with “ear-tickling” because it pays the bills. I mean, come one, you really think that if you send Mr. TV Preacher money that you will prosper financially? Do you think he believes it? I don’t. I think that’s his job….to convince you to send him money. You want to tithe? Look at a local church. See what they’re doing with the money they receive. If it looks like something Jesus would do, that might be a good place to put your money. It might even be a good place to attend church.
So, what should a church look like? As always, I’m going to say that the answer is in the Bible. It’s about coming alongside folks and living life with them. It’s about living the faith out loud so that others want what you have. And the only way you can do that is to have a deep, abiding relationship with Jesus. And then to develop relationships with those around you. At work. At church. At the playground. At wherever God has led you. Because, He planted you in that place for a purpose. Be the light. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. I believe it’s in our imperfections that people can truly see the strength of our God.
At this point, I really feel like I need to clarify that I’m not anti-church. I’m not anti-tv preacher. And I’m not anti-money. What I am is skeptical of folks who are taking the money of people hungry for more but not introducing them to the Only One who can meet their needs. I’m all for folks prospering. As a writer, I hope that someday I will make enough money off my writing to support my family. I just never want to sell myself out to make money. I want it to be about Jesus, no matter how much money is involved. I think if you follow the teachings of anyone, those teachings should be true and solidly Bible-based. And, I think you should be in relationship with folks who are in relationship with Jesus.
Be blessed and show somebody some love today!