Every service is crafted around money, there is an obsession with money in the church that is palatable. I have gone to many churches and the one thing that is common in all of them is the need to give money.
There is an easy to follow pattern, when it comes to money in the church. Guilt, Fear, and Freedom.
Approach 1 – Guilt: I remember this clearly, that feeling of seeking God. I went out with a new understanding, very peaceful, happy and excited to find God. People all around me, greeting me at the door, smiling and saying how great God is and how everyone is loved. You feel like you are in the right place.
Then it happens, collections! You want to do what’s right but when you don’t have any money with you (either on purpose or by accident) you feel guilty and you feel like everyone is watching you, judging you. But wait, it’s all in your mind, everyone here loves you right? But when the preacher starts talking about money, you’re going to hear one of the following.
- “You have X so why not give“: They say, “You have a phone but you can’t give to God?”, “You can make car payments but you don’t have any to give?”, “Who do you think gives you money to pay your bills and buy food, but you don’t give any back?” It makes you feel like the worst person in the world. It sucks the joy out of you. A guilty giver is a miserable person.
- “You love money more than God“: The idea is that your love for God is shown in how much and how often you give money. This makes a direct connection between God and money. It claims that money buys God’s love.
- “You are stopping all the good we could do“: This one depends on the church. The claim is that God is waiting on you before he can feed and clothe the poor. Your lack of giving is the reason so many people don’t have what they need.
Approach 2 – Fear: This is the primary way of motivating people to give. You convince them that their soul is on the line. That money can save them from damnation. The more you give the closer you are to God and safety. You will hear one of the following.
- “Money or heaven“: The most direct message. The claim is that you make a choice every Sunday between money or God. Heaven or hell. This is the most effective because you are scared crazy. You will give out of fear to ensure you go to heaven. Pay your way in.
- “You are stealing from God“: This one started coming up a lot in the newer churches I’ve visited. The idea is that it’s not your money, it belongs to God and when you don’t give you are then stealing his money. So give it back!
- “If you hold on to money it will corrupt you“: This one works on a simple premise, money is evil (when you have it), so give it up to stay clean.
Approach 3 – Freedom: If you give your life will be fuller. Your family will have what it needs. Your burdens will be removed. Your bills paid and your pantry full. Giving is faith and faith is security.
- “Give money and more money will be given back“: This one is more complex. The more money you give the more money you will receive but if for any reason you don’t get money back then you did it wrong or you lack faith.
- “Give and you will be blessed“: Simple concept, the more you give the bigger the blessing. If you have great needs, then give large amounts of money.
- “Prayer objects“: If you need prayer then there are special napkins (prayer cloth) or bottles of blessed water to answer your prayers.
There are also many ways to give:
- Tithe — Give 10% of your money earned each pay period. The claim is that the Bible requires this through special interpretation mixed with modern times.
- Gifting — Give more to God above the “requirement” of the tithe. This shows love above just plain old obedience.
- Donation — These are one-time payments to show your support of the ministry but still needed on a semi-regular basis.
- Special Need — This comes up from time to time when someone in the congregation is in need. Money is needed to help that person, or they will suffer.
- Special Project — Money is needed for special projects like repairs to the church building, mission trips, etc.
- Guest Speaker — Special preachers can visit your local church for the right funds. It’s like a revival to get the energy in the church up to full speed. Very effective.
Consumer support is also very active:
This is very new to me and it works like this: After service, there are consumer items to support the church or church members. Church members can purchase items to show their support for God and the many ministries of faith.
If you have been to a sports game or amusement park, then you know what to expect. It’s like having a small store next to the exit. A final chance to show how much faith you have.
What I decided to do in my faith:
I decided to simply read the Bible. To my surprise, the actual scriptures are more often the opposite of what is happening in the church. So over time, I learned to forget about the money and focus on the belief. You can’t buy God.