A reader of this blog recently asked a question about "money and the church." I thought it was a good question, even for apologists, because it is a common "stumbling block" for many. Although it is more of a pastoral question, it is one that we should be ready to give an answer for, as 1 Peter 3:15 would have us do. The question is this, "Why do churches ask for money?"
Thanks to many money-hungry TV evangelists (which is the only "christianity" that most people unfortunately get to see), a lot of people view the church as a greedy organization that just wants your money. And in many cases, this is unfortunately true. This is just my opinion, but I believe that the vast majority of these churches fall into the Word of Faith movement. The reason is, a lot of these Word of Faith teachers teach false doctrine regarding money and giving. Its not my intent to get into this at the moment. If you want to know more, typing "prosperity gospel" or "prosperity theology" in google should pull up enough to give you a glimpse at what this line of thinking entails.
Aside from all of this, many churches who do not teach prosperity theology ask for money. Why? Is it because the pastor needs a newer car or needs to remodel his bathroom? If anyone is interested in wanting to know what a church does or doesn't spend their money on, all you have to do is ask. I couldn't imagine even a Word of Faith church denying the request to view a monthly financial statement. Unfortunately, most people assume without asking. That's the first step.
The second step is, how do you judge on whether the church is wisely spending its money? Simple. How much money is going towards personal incomes? If the pastor is making more than enough money to support a stable and comfortable income, then you might want to ask the church why the pastor is getting paid as much as he is? This is where things get touchy and i'm not sure where I draw the line on how much pastors should be getting paid.
But I think these things goes beyond what the questioner wants to know. Why do churches ask for money? Think about what would happen if they didn't. First, would there even be a building? Would there be electricity? The bare essentials would have to be covered. Secondly, the pastor needs an income. Why? Because pastoring a church can be one of the most time consuming jobs out there. If a pastor had to work a full-time job, how would he have time to adequately study, prepare sermons and bible studies, council members, perform wedding and funeral ceremonies, etc. etc.? Some may disagree with this, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with providing a pastor an income in order to better perform his duties.
Personally, I think there is a right way and wrong way to ask for money. Currently, my church doesn't nor has ever "asked for money." Occasionally, they point out that there is an offering box in the lobby if anyone chooses to donate. But that's it. I think as long as people know where to give, then they can choose to do so or not. That's why I really don't like the offering plate deal.
I'm not completely set on any of this, but these are my general thoughts at the moment. What do you all think about this issue?