If a pastor or church leader has ever told you that the Bible commands Christians to tithe or give 10% of their income; hit you up for multiple offerings during one service; made you march up front to give; asked you to donate to a mysterious “building fund” or give a “first-fruit” offering; or even given special recognition to big givers in your congregation, Lee and other pastors have a message for you:
You are getting played.
These rituals, they say, violate New Testament teachings about how and why people should give.
Quibbling over how churches collect money may seem trivial. But the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century was sparked, in part, by outrage over how the Roman Catholic Church collected money.
Church leaders sold everything from “indulgences” to people who wanted their sins pardoned to holy relics of dubious value. And researchers say that today’s surge in “nones,” or Americans who claim no religious affiliation, is driven by people who complain that religions organizations are too concerned with money and power.
No wonder the Apostle Paul, who built the first Christian churches, refused to take money from his followers, one pastor noted. Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 9:15-18 that he would only “present the gospel free of charge.” He supported himself as a tent maker.
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