Prosperity is one of the most controversial topics in the body of Christ. There are those who believe in it, there are those who are totally against it, and there are those who are not sure which way to lean. But whichever your view on prosperity, we can all agree that the Bible has quite a lot to say about money. Some of the scriptures are about money management, others about sowing and reaping, and others about the love of money and the evils thereof.
But what does the Bible say about preachers asking for money? Here are four important things the Bible says about pastors and money.
- Preachers shouldn’t coerce people to give
- preachers shouldn’t focus on the amounts
- preachers should not love money
- preachers should lead by example
Let’s look at each of these in greater detail.
Preachers shouldn’t coerce people to give
When God asks his people to give an offering in church, he wants them to do it willingly. In fact, any service that is rendered to God should be from a willing heart. If you were to force someone to sing a worship chorus, it wouldn’t really touch God’s heart. Likewise, any offering that is given in church as a result of coercion from the preacher will never benefit the giver. This is what Paul was trying to communicate to the church at Corinth.
You must each decide in your heart how much to give.
And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure.
"For God loves a person who gives cheerfully."
~2 Cor. 9:7, NLT
Giving is a principle of the kingdom of God and even though it is God himself who instituted it, He is totally against anyone forcing his children to give. I often tell saints in our church, just before collecting the offering, “if you do not want to give, don’t.” That might sound weird but the truth is, any money you give in church without a willing heart will achieve the same results as flushing the same amount down your toilet. It is biblically okay for preachers to encourage you to give but totally unbiblical for them to force you to give.
Preachers shouldn’t focus on the amounts
When raising money for any purpose, even outside the church, it is completely human to expect more money from rich people. In fact, if you were raising support for a project, chances are you will only target the rich friends and acquaintances you have. Preachers often display the same attitude in church. But Jesus taught us a better way:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. ~Mark 12: 41-43
In the illustration above, Jesus recognized the offering of the poor widow and reckoned that she had given a better offering than anyone else had given. I am sure the disciples were totally flabbergasted by this remark. See, God’s economy doesn’t work like the economy of the earth. While the preacher might be focusing on how much you gave, God will be focusing on how much you have left.
In the eyes of most preachers, the best givers in their churches are the ones that give the most amount of money. But in the eyes of God, the best givers are the ones that give the biggest percentage of their money – amount notwithstanding. Like the widow that gave only one coin but it was way more than she could afford.
Preachers should not love money
There is a lot of bad teaching about money in churches around the world. Most of the bad teaching can be explained by one verse in the book of Timothy.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith
and pierced themselves with many griefs.
~ 1 Timothy 6:10
When preachers start loving money, they start focusing all their energies on how to make people give more in church. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Christians should be encouraged to give more. In fact, I never receive an offering in church before giving
Apostle Paul is one of the early church leaders that was very vocal about giving. He encouraged Christians to give to support his ministry and he encouraged them to give to support the Christians that were poor. But the Apostle was very accountable to the money that he raised in the church. For instance, when he was asking for Christians to support the poor through their giving, he provided clear direction on how the money was to be spent and who would be in charge.
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside
a sum of money in keeping with your income,
saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction
to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.
If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me
~ 1 Cor. 16:2-4, NIV
Paul didn’t even want to accompany the people that were taking the money he had collected back to Jerusalem. He only wanted to write a letter to the leaders in Jerusalem. The letter would probably contain how much was raised and for what purpose it was raised. He left the church to decide whether or not he would be part of the team that was handling the money. It is clear that Paul was not driven by the love of money. He was driven by the love of God and his people.
A good preacher should not collect an offering because he wants to get wealth. A good preacher should collect an offering because he wants the people to be blessed and because he wants the kingdom to continue expanding. He should be driven by love for God and his people rather than the love of money.
Preachers should lead by example
The book of Acts opens with a very powerful statement.
In my first book I told you, Theophilus,
about everything Jesus began to do and teach.
That is how Jesus operated. He did then he taught. It is incumbent upon every preacher to practice what they preach. A pastor should lead the flock of God by example in all areas including the area of giving. If he is not giving, he shouldn’t be encouraging his congregants to give. If a preacher doesn’t tithe from his income, he shouldn’t be asking his congregants to tithe. Here is another interesting scripture on this.
Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care,
but lead them by your own good example.
~1 Peter 5:3, NLT
Jesus modeled for us as we have already seen in Acts 1. Then he reminded us through Peter to lead the people he has put under our care by our own good example. I believe that every preacher should be the best giver in their local churches.
In case you have forgotten it already, being the best giver doesn’t mean giving the largest amount. In most cases, pastors have congregants who are way richer than them and will, therefore, most likely give more in terms of amount. But in the eyes of God, the best giver is not the one that gives the largest sum but the one that gives the largest percentage. If a pastor does this with a clean heart, the people they are leading will not strive with giving. The grace of giving will flow naturally in the congregation.
Before I go…
Before I go, let me address something important. I have come across many Christians who have stopped giving because they met a preacher that was not handling the whole issue of giving the way they believe it should be handled. I think that is the dumbest thing a Christian can do. Can you imagine stopping to eat because you encountered a bad chef? Wouldn’t that be stupid? For every bad chef, there are hundreds of other good ones out there.
Do not stop giving because you have seen a preacher that is misusing the money. There are more than enough good preachers and good churches near you. Remember, God is not in need. Your giving doesn’t help him. It is meant to help you.