There is much insight and revelation concerning finances that would undermine most of the systems in churches today. From God’s will to prosper us, to God’s will that all be rich, to poverty being a blessing and keeping us humble, there is an entire spectrum of church belief systems in which most have yet to find the true vein of revelation concerning finances that would provide a healthy balance. Sadly, much of the Church is not ready for it. But those who can and will receive it will come into a great faith and freedom that will cause Divine activity on their behalf. Bottom line: The Church cannot serve God and mammon.
The service of mammon keeps the Church in unbelief. Leaders are trusting men for money instead of God. Gimmicks and ungodly tactics are utilized to extract money from people. Pressure and manipulation is constantly applied to people so they can give. Pastors will check their church financial records continually to see who is giving and who is not, and then they wind up showing partiality to those who give more. This is a form of subtle unbelief and having your eyes on man. Are you truly trusting the Lord, or are you depending more on the strength of your flesh?
The circumstances and levels of faith are different in people’s lives. You can’t simply judge people by their financial contributions to a church. If they’re prayerful, on fire and winning souls, their worth to the kingdom is invaluable regardless of their financial giving, whereas oftentimes the lukewarm rich church members will manipulate and control a pastor through their giving. Sometimes it’s best never to look at the financial records as some wise pastors have chosen to do. Yet, of course, it is right and honorable to give and support the work of God, and godly shepherds that lead you and feed you, and there is a great blessing in it. Although certain principles are timeless, God doesn’t lead every pastor the same exact way.
In one partner church of ours the people had to nearly plead with the pastor to receive offerings because the Lord told him not to receive conventional offerings due to the mistrust that people have today of ministers’ questionable dealings with money. Sometimes you have to establish trust over a period of time and teach people Bible truths concerning money. This pastor found a healthy compromise with his people, and they decided to place an offering box or basket by the entrance of the church so people could give as they purposed in their hearts. They’ve never lacked. As a matter of fact, they’ve prospered. At times the Lord has sent “ravens” to this church that have brought a large supply of money. This pastor was truly putting all his trust in the Lord.
For example, since this church leased a building in the strip mall they are in, the empty buildings in that mall have filled up with new tenants. The millionaire who owns those buildings took note of the great provision that had come to him since the church had been there and started giving the church large donations for their work. And this millionaire is a sinner! God has more than one way of bringing provision and paying for what He’s ordered. Of course, it is not wrong to receive conventional offerings and to teach people the importance of giving. The important thing is to let the Lord lead you and put all your trust in Him.
The same type of unbelief could be applied to traveling ministers like we are. Many traveling ministers are only interested in going to larger churches and ministering in conferences where they know the likelihood of receiving bigger offerings are there. The needs and expenses of traveling ministers are real, just as the needs of pastors and churches are real; once again, the key is to put all your trust in the Lord and do what He says.
Financial increase and spiritual multiplication will often come from obeying a word of wisdom God gives us. In the ministry of Jesus He asked for a little boy’s lunch to be brought to Him – a few fishes and loaves – and when He blessed them and broke them there was great multiplication (Mt. 14:17-20). The same can be applied spiritually. When the apostles received a word of wisdom for seven men to care for the widows so they could devote themselves to prayer and the Word, there was great spiritual multiplication (Acts 6:1-7). This word of wisdom stopped the murmuring that was coming from the widows being neglected in the daily ministration.
So on the one hand, in the earliest beginnings of the Church people were selling their houses and lands and bringing the proceeds to the apostles feet (Acts 4:34-35). But on the other hand, there were poor widows that needed care who were being neglected (Acts 6), and distribution was made to them as they had need. The initial neglect of the widows did not cause the apostles to neglect their devotion to prayer and the Word.
Think about the high importance the early apostles placed on prayer and the Word. Even the legitimate needs of people, and the pure religion of caring for widows would not pull them away from their primary responsibility. Today, pastors and ministers are quickly knocked out of prayer by petty things, pet hobbies, and menial tasks.
Pastors and ministers, we have a great responsibility before God to stay in prayer and the Word. Put all your trust in the Lord. Listen to Him, and do what He says. All the wisdom, grace, and provision you need is found in Him. It is when we return to this pattern that we will begin seeing radical change in the Church of today.