Special treatment is given to those who have deep pockets and we see evidence of this in some “money hungry” churches as some critics like to call them. The prosperity gospel is often preached when leaders of the church claim that God told them to buy property and build something that glorifies him. However, there is a fine line between hearing from God and hearing from self. Some ministers allow their minds and hearts to confuse the two. Sometimes God has told them to construct a building or create an additional program, but they may have the timing all wrong. The there are those times that God didn’t tell them to do anything but be still; however, selfish reasons, a demanding church board, or simply greed can spoil a good pastor if he isn’t too careful. So what exactly do some churches do to pressure believers to reach deeper in their pockets until it hurts?
Often make comments, preach or teach about giving. Some will do this to the point that it turns visitors off. Many already know about giving, but haven’t felt the need to give to the church because they aren’t completely convinced that they want to make it their church home. Just as one will have to get to know a person before they walk down the aisle and marry their mate, visitors have to know whether or not they want to walk down the aisle and commit to the church. It may only take months are many years before they hand over something as near and dear to them as their money.
Church leaders orchestrate specific plans to get you to give more. What many people who know nothing about what goes on behind the scenes of the Sunday program don’t know is that there is usually a group of people who meet about more than just what the choir will sing and what the pastor will preach about, but they specifically choose certain music and biblical teachings to get you to give more. If the church needs a new roof, the leadership may find scriptures related to giving, building, and assistance. He or she may also use life examples that will make you say to yourself, “I remember feeling the same stress when I had to buy a roof for my house, I think I will give.” The pastor may have trouble trying to get a program started or an old building resurrected so he may be told by the church board to come up with something to get members to give more. The bottom line is the priority is to get you to give, but if you get something out of what has been taught to you then that is just icing on the cake.
There are certain songs, corporate fasts, and revivals that are generated to evoke the emotions of those who attend the church. If you are made to feel guilty, sad, elated, or encouraged, you may be more likely to feel obligated to give to get something in return. That is why the prosperity gospel is so popular because ignorant visitors who don’t read the Bible will assume that al they have to do is give God some cash and everything will be alright because his messenger said so.
Leadership will encourage you to read books, listen to CDs, or watch movies about giving. What better way than to get people to give is to bombard them with information that tells them to give! When leadership is under fire about paying bills, they will light a fire under you to give. As we all know we shouldn’t feel pressured to give as the Bible says, we are to give cheerfully, according to 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15.
Various scriptures are pulled from the Bible to convict you to give such as Genesis 28:22, Malachi 3:8-12, I Corinthians 16:2, and Hebrews 7:8-9. All of these scriptures have one things in common they discuss tithing. Some men and women who claim they are anointed by God to a lead a congregation will use these scriptures to build personal wealth for themselves, family and those who are in their inner circle rather than use the money wisely to rebuild ruin-down communities. Have you ever noticed how beautiful some churches look in neighborhoods that are surrounded by abandon buildings? Why isn’t the church taking much of the money they receive to beautify communities, assist businesses, and help homeowners?
An unusual amount of guest speakers show up with a focus on giving. You may have attended a church where you rarely see the shepherd of the church because he or she is busily getting paid elsewhere to speak while guest speakers are told to get the people to give more. Sometimes members and visitors will give more to a new face preaching a different kind of gospel especially if the visitor looks better and his or her teaching style is more informative than the minister of the church.
New programs and products are created with a price tag. What’s the quickest way to make a few dollars? Create products and design programs that will make people feel better about themselves. When people feel good about their lives, they will feel better about giving.
Things that once didn’t cost now cost. Freebies are cut when there are big financial concerns of the church. Everything from a CD that was once free to anointed oil, everything will at some point have a price tag if you stick around long enough in a church that has accrued unnecessary debt. The church knows that giving you something isn’t as plentiful as getting you to give to them. If you were ever in financial trouble and needed help from the church, you may already learned the hard way. Most people don’t receive any assistance from the church when they have dilemmas unless they have a track record established at the church for giving money and/or service. Even with all the money and service that one has given over the years doesn’t mean that the church will instantly give.
Special treatment is given to those who give more. A touch from the pastor, a prophetic word from his wife, and a special prayer of healing is usually given to those who have deep pockets. There are actually church leaders who will form lines according to how much you can afford to give to them. “Those of you who can give a thousand or more stand here and I will personally give you a word over your life. Those of you who have been led to give $777 dollars I want you to come fourth…and those of you who have $20 or less drop your money in the baskets located at the front of the church” notice the difference this particular minister made between those with more money from those with little money. Ministers who ask for both large and small amounts usually get them because they worked very hard on the minds of those listening to their messages. If a member is consistently generous and gives in great amounts, than he or she may be invited to attend special events at the pastor’s home, or travel with the leadership.
People will befriend you especially those in leadership, because they know you are generous. You are rarely left out of certain events. While those who don’t have as much money or isn’t as generous, they are usually not aware of how quickly they can grow their network of people. “The more members tend to give, the more they receive from the church,” as you quickly will learn if you attend enough church services and see they often visible presence of certain members and their families.
You or someone you know is offered a position to work for the church that would otherwise be difficult for regular churchgoers to get or even know about. As conveyed throughout this article, if you dig down deep in your pockets or someone you know is a very generous with time and money in the church, you can capitalize on that favor by receiving a job.
You may be doing something you know goes against God’s word and the minister and his staff looks the other way. The rule book is different when you do something, but your financially broke sister or brother in Christ is rebuked for his behavior. Remember God sees and knows all and if you continue to do sinful things, man won’t have to expose you, God will! Money may buy you a seat next to the man who claims he is being used by God, but it won’t buy you a ticket into heaven!
Church leaders will encourage the use of spiritual gifts to get people to give. If you play the drum loud enough, yell at people, or do a dance of your own, people will be excited, curious, and even happy to act crazy right along with you. These kinds of behaviors are at times done on purpose to get people excited about spiritual gifts and when they are fascinated about the supernatural, they may buy more books about it, give to God hoping to get a gift or two in return, etc. Those educated ministers understand the psychology of giving and spend long hours studying about it. They know that when people are emotionally charged they will give more. They understand all of the challenges you may be facing professionally and personally so they will share a word that specifically targets those areas hoping that you will be so moved that you will wan to give.
There is nothing wrong with giving, but it’s the tactics that some leaders will repeatedly use to pressure churchgoers into giving. Jesus didn’t say go out into all the world and preach, preach, preach about giving, but a large church with a lot of bills will do just that! A small church that sees his big brother or sister in the neighboring church doing better than he, will also preach a different kind of gospel. What every believer and nonbeliever should be mindful of when one in the church asks you to give is not to give, but how much can you afford and is this a man or woman of God who is about building his or her kingdom up or tearing it down by using tactics that worked for the greedy.
A church that didn’t build its foundation in the way that other churches did such as having emotionally charged messages, powerful drumbeats, a dancing minister, a popular café just outside the sanctuary, or having a huge celebrity following, has no business in God’s kingdom behaving in this way and if they think God won’t judge them he will. God has purposed and gifted the church staff and its members in a very special way and what is good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander.
In summary, you will know whether the staff loves you or your money more if suddenly you experience a loss that causes you to cut your giving. When you see that staff and members don’t have time for you anymore, that your name gets passed up for certain events that typically you would attend with your pastor and his wife, and other negative behaviors take your broken heart to another church – don’t stay! Because if you do choose to stay at the church that doesn’t seem to stop hurting you emotionally, you will gradually become more and more bitter with those around you. You will also begin to turn into a troublemaker rather than a relationship builder. Save yourself the pain and embarrassment and attend a church that doesn’t pressure members to give so often.