Money and the Church|
by Pam Clark
Believe me, if you have a ministry outside of the four walls of the church where they preach tithing hard, you know that it's grace to be able to do anything significant unless someone endows you. And some ministries are called to be outside the four walls.
Some people work and do ministry, and that is also a challenge for the dedicated who want to go full time and stay God-focused, but it's often where most wind up. If you want to come out of the world system and live purely by faith, it's possible but very difficult. Especially if you don't want to spend half your time fund raising. It's not a good time for most. It just gets easier to go work almost, but it's a distraction at times.
There are advantages to being full time ministers and disadvantages. In the work world, the people who hire you want your attention and they want you to do things in their ways. And if you are working for a good cause, there is nothing wrong with that! And you should honor the one who employs you.
It's nice to feel that what you do contributes to society. Some work on the side. Even the Apostle Paul made talits. Those are the striped cloths that the Jewish people used as a prayer shawl and when they put it over their head, it was called a "prayer tent" or "prayer closet," or personal "tent of meeting." So those are the "tents" that Paul made.
Selling those fit in with his ministry work and so that was nice for him. It supplied his needs when people didn't.
A big disadvantage of being a full time minister is that people get out of touch with what is going on in the world. Many want to escape the world for obvious reasons, and it would be nice to be around great Christians all the time, but ministers are called to minister to the needy and if they are out of touch with reality, then they are not effective ministers and they get known as ones who are "out of touch with reality." I am not talking about endorsing sin but about the way life works.
As a called minister, I have always enjoyed working in the "caring professions" but always felt the tug to want to minister more Spiritual truths that you can't always do in the workplace. But if no one was in the workplace, many people would not be reached at all and the goal of God for us is to reach souls with His Truth.
There have been many scandals in the Church and there will be as long as there are humans and they occur for two reasons. One is because they are getting resistance from the anti-Christ forces, and one is because people do need correcting. If we can't learn to pray for truth and love for God's ministers and servants, then you need to be the one to show us how to do it better!!!
There is a power to money or mammon. There is a lust for power involved in it. The three main lusts that our human nature always wars with are (1) the lust of the flesh (personal indulgences), (2) the lust of the eyes (a show off spirit and spirit of greed) and the pride of life (which wants power over others). When they are in excess, it's often seen if it is out of control.
I used to follow the Jim Bakker PTL ministry somewhat so I knew a lot about what was going on, and there was a lot they did right and some things they did wrong. I watched the news media lie about a lot of it in order to sell papers. Some things I knew needed correcting. I believe that God often allows the public aggravation when His Voice doesn't come through as an effort to reach them. Sometimes though, people seem to fall because God is getting people's attention for a greater glory or revelation. People will get it if they have the heart to hear.
There are ministers in the news now (and if this article gets to be ten years old, it will probably still be current), where the government is wanting to make a decision on if some non-profits are mishandling their funds. It's a worthy thought process but a tricky one because people should have the right to spend their own money as they see fit. Most media moguls are not living in squalor!
I know many ministers who can make large sums off of books that they write. That can be their personal money to spend as they like. Some people complain when ministers live in gated communities but for some that is very needed or they would be very harrassed. They really do need personal body guards at times!
The real question is does their message live up with their lifestyles? You have to wonder when ministers get so good at asking for money and live in the "jet set" lifestyle, saying that is all God. If God did not want us blessed like a good father would, then who would need the Gospel? One thing I really grieve about is that when I hear these financial appeals over and over and over again, the wealth becomes the "focus" more than the real Jesus.
Now there are times for fund raising and if you oppose ministers needing adequate and respectable funds, then you have the problem in my book. But if everytime you go to church or a meeting and the standard is set for a certain type of wealthy lifestyle and that Jesus is only about giving money, then those folks are missing God big time. That is just a finacial scheme!
Jesus is there in the good times and bad and the rain falls on the just and unjust. I don't want a minister who doesn't want to see me blessed. I think I have that much good sense! I think God provides ministers to help us in many different ways. But if the focus is money all the time, then probably there is a lust involved. But to want ministers poor is a sin.
Jesus has a personality and He did not come to promote riches over justice, love, respect and honor. He has a Personality that is tangible in the meeting place and I know when it's not there!!! When hearts care about the needy - spiritually or in practicalities, it shows.
If one of the ministers in the news now came to me and asked my opinion about what was going on, I feel the Lord would have me ask them (for Him), "What about your own Jerusalem?" Jesus said to spread the gospel beginning in your own home place and then to the outlying areas. Do you really care about your own vicinity? Beware that when you are growing wide and tall that you are also growing deep or else you will topple over!
If you can justify your finances in your heart by your activities that you are truly caring for the poorer around you, then you are working on good ground and God will give a witness to it. What goes on in the inner circle will spread out to the outer circles. If God is not pleased, then you will find trouble because He is trying to get you back on track to that personal relationship with Him rather than to the world.
We were not all called to be His judges for Him, but He will allow some to rise up to deal with certain things. That is just the way He has always done it, as you can read in your own Bible. This world is in a needy time. The outward things are not always indicative as to what is in the core.
We are dealing with a Spirit and not things. The Spirit will teach you and cause you to stand in tribulations. The Spirit has integrity and will teach you how to get along with and enjoy others. The Spirit will also teach you not to compromise on good morals and behavior. It's not unity at any cost and riches don't imply Spiritual prosperity.
We are going to go through trials so that God can train us by the Spirit. He is the Father of spirits. When you are stable in your inner court, then you can venture out and do well at it. He will approve of it.
Be careful when something that is not God's Spirit is the status symbol. God moves in many different ways, but His Personality is distinct and His Presence and Personality can be witnessed and identified by many. There is a clean feeling inside and with others when we do it right.
Ministers do need money but not because they have the message that you "should" be wealthy. Some live very sacrificial lives and they will be honored by God! Some just know how to manage money wisely and they should be helping others do the same as a ministry to them. Some people are called to be benefactors, but if your ministry is not real to your own local life, then my friend, you are falling.
Look at yourself before you criticize another, and if you are in the Body of Christ, the right spirit of Him who called you will be to help people get it right through prayers and love and support. There are many self appointed judges out there who as Jesus said "do not know what spirit they are of." He said that of those who wanted to call down fire from heaven on those who didn't quite get it yet. If ministers have to "prove something" to you, then YOU have the problem!
If your discernment is so lame that you can't see a good work in progress and be willing to serve and bless it, then you are the weak and needy one. And if you strive against ministers doing the works of God, whether you "approve of how they do it or not" then beware lest God Himself becomes your enemy!
No one is forcing you to give anything but if you aren't giving to works that grow the Kingdom of God, then you have no right to say anything. God's message is plain: Go into all the world with the message of His Love in Jesus. The real message works in real life!
We are not empire building, we are building a functional community of Love through the Spirit of our Savior Jesus. Are you using people or are you helping people know Him more and helping them to find the freedom and expression of life in Christ? Are you hindering people because they don't do it "your" way or are you humbly looking for God to show you His revelations?
New things are new things! There may be a new way of looking at the old thing because of a new revelation that God wants to bring. Sometimes He just wants to adjust things a certain way so He can move without hurting folks. They say a denomination is a move of God that stopped and camped. Some things were worth camping on but God still moves and His Spirit and Presence are very real.
Learn how to flow with the Spirit and you will learn how and where to give. Realize that YOU and your loved ones need ALL the ministry gifts of the Spirit. Then support the works that God is doing as you can. Don't despise the past blessings and honor those who gave to you. God wants you to be all you can be and to be closed to the one who shuts the right doors for you.
Your blessing will be where you can give joyfully, not begrudgingly or out of "duty." KNOWING that you are supporting a worthy cause will bless you, even when you don't want to give. But if there is no joy or truth in it, then don't give to a cause that will only make you bitter. It's not worth it!
Good stewards know how to manage money and they will teach others. Thank God for the ones coming on the scene to do just that! There is the world system and there is God's system and we need to know how to function in His ways.