Recently, I was in a church service and was quite disturbed at how the offerings were conducted. To my surprise there were five different appeals for funds! During the general offering, a missionary was allowed to make the appeal. She began by asking the congregants to stand. After which, they were directed to a scripture located in Haggai 1:1-11. After reading eleven verses, she scolded the people for not providing more resources for the work of the Lord and threatened that we can’t expect God to do anything for us if we don’t give. At one point she alleged that the members should willingly offer their utility bill money to pay for the church’s expenses and challenged the people to have faith in God to meet the need in their home. As I looked around the sanctuary, I saw many of the members avoiding my gaze, looking at the floor. Some went outside until the collection was over and one rushed off to the restroom. As the missionary’s nearly thirty five minute rant to intimidate the members for funds drew to a close, she added that the Lord loves a “cheerful” giver. She wanted them all to smile and feel encouraged as they came around the altar to leave their monetary gift. How one could be cheerful after such a presentation is beyond me. I was truly embarrassed for them, and relieved I was not a member of this body of believers. I was immediately overwhelmed with anger and the Lord whispered to me “What is your boiling point’? The boiling point for water is two hundred twelve degrees. I am fully persuaded that I felt more intense heat than that! I felt so incensed that this kind of manipulation was playing out before my eyes that I wanted to scream out loud “This is not how we receive an offering for the Lord!” When I reflect on our modern day church my heart aches within. It’s painful observing what our churches seemed to have become. They appear to be more of an icon these days than a living, breathing, active body of believers dedicated to fulfilling God’s will in the earth. Where is the vibrant body that is awed by a move of the Lord? Why is it becoming increasingly difficult to find the loving heart of Christ in church on Sunday mornings? Why is this becoming such a Herculean effort? Instead of setting our agenda toward ministering to the impoverished, it is apparent we have suffered a diversion.
The goal of serving the masses should be pointing out God’s mercy is available for us daily. Without understanding His mercy how can we truly believe there is hope for mankind? Lamentations 3:23 cites the mercy of God is new each day. When we rise to greet a new morning, we are not only blessed with life but with the gift that God offers us a chance to clean our slate with Him. The chance to know Him and seek a fruitful relationship within is to open the door to eternal peace. Many people however are not even aware of this character trait of the Lord. They are more often than not presented with an angry God who wants to merely judge and destroy them. The modern day church has a brow beating dogmatic stance toward humanity that serves no purpose. The mercy of God isn’t heralded leaving them lost and quite bewildered. Confusion settles in their spirit leaving them to sort out feelings of condemnation, the foundation for embracing apostasy. They need a refuge and the offer of a better day but how can they find it when they are challenged and told they are not caring for “God’s house”? God doesn’t want to alienate His people and is none too pleased when believers engage in that kind of behavior. God wants His worship services to offer an atmosphere conducive to enticing congregations to want to have a relationship with Him.
Ministries today should periodically re-evaluate their agenda to make sure they are staying true to Gods’ prime directive and not a man made goal. Too many people are citing the same reasons for not having any relationship with God. Many are disillusioned with constant bickering among saints, being badgered for finances or brow beat for having weaknesses in areas they may be struggling with. Many feel guilty and worthless for their transgressions because they’ve not been offered hope. God hears our heart and knows what we all yearn for the most. He knows we all want to be accepted, loved and valued. The cry of the oppressed is coming up before God’s nostrils and He is holding leadership accountable. We must return to God’s way of engaging each other. We must present God’s word, live God’s word and allow potential converts to make a choice. Our vision should not be clouded with how much the offering will bring in, or how many new members the church gained last Sunday or how many titles to covet. God wants us to be real believers and not a social club where politicking for position is the order of the day. God is angry at the bondage of tradition, control and manipulation that is alive and well in many ministries. It is taking them from soul serving to self serving. God is angry that believers allow denominations to divide instead of unite. He is angry that our nation chose to evict Him from our government yet seek his protection from foreign enemies when we feel it’s convenient.
Again I ask “What is your boiling point?” When will we learn that money is just an end to a means? When will we learn that we need to trust God for lack in our ministries and attend to the spiritual needs of one another? How can we honestly stand before God with a clear conscious if we haven’t looked after the fatherless and the widow? (James 1:27). Badgering the faithful for funds is not the will of God. Taxing those who we know don’t have is not ministry for them, it’s drudgery. We know it takes money to operate ministries but not at the expense of souls. Our first directive from the Lord isn’t to build empires called mega-churches. The role of the church is to help the unchurched in facilitating a relationship with the Father. When will we become bold enough to revamp our agendas and let God direct us? When will the lunacy of “paying” to be a member in good standing or just to be a Christian cease? If we return to the financial plan that God has set in His word, nothing that has been properly built to glorify Him will fail.
“What is your boiling point?”
Be blessed child of the MOST HIGH GOD……
Dr. Denise Joyce Williams lives in Florida with her husband who is a career soldier. Her articles have been featured in CALLED and WOW magazine. Her book entitled, “The Healing Of A Broken Vessel” was released by Publish America in March 2009. The book can be found: http://www.publishamerica.com. She can also be reached via her ministry website http://www.thebrokenvessel.com. She’s currently penning her next book entitled “The Chambers Of The Heart”.