Friday, March 27, 2009

I Wonder What Jesus Thinks

I read this verse the other day and it hit me in a way I had never seen it before.

"When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves." (Mark 15:11-17)

I want to briefly share some of the thoughts that came to me....

I wonder what Jesus thinks about the way certain churches handle money. Have some used the church as a way to make money off of honest, God-fearing people? I mean after all, why would a church charge $7 for a CD of the message when it only cost about .40 to make? I know of churches that make all of the messages available free of charge.

Has Jesus gotten upset because honest people have been taken advantage of? I remember a meeting that took place a couple of years back at a very nice venue in town. A special guest was in town and he was going to speak during a luncheon. The true cost of the ticket was less than $20, but the leaders of the church charged $40 for each ticket. The high cost of the ticket made it impossible for some members to attend, but that did not deter the leader's decision to make money off of the tickets.

Is it right to charge more for a church event than it really costs? I don't believe there's anything wrong with covering the cost of an event or even covering unforeseen charges, but it seems to me that the intention of making money off of the church members crosses the line. I think the church should be a place that will try to make a way to include everyone who desires to be a part. The attitude that came across to me was, "If you don't have the faith to believe for the money, then we don't want you to come."

I know God wants churches to prosper so they can get the Gospel out and reach the world, but it should be achieved by honest means. I think people should at least know where their money is going when they give it and I believe people should be treated honestly and fairly at all times.

People should not be conned or coerced into giving - hence the 20 minute prelude before every offering. Do people really have to be pounded week after week, year after year with a mini sermon on tithing? I think the leaders should consider a different approach because if people haven't gotten the message in the 10 to 20 years of hearing it, maybe they aren't going to. I love the approach they take at my new church - let people follow their own heart and give cheerfully when God leads them to.

The main emphasis of a church should never be on money, but it should be on what really matters - having a relationship with God and helping people. Why isn't this the main focus of some churches? I think the answer is clear....To some, money is more important than people. That's not the way it is with Jesus and that may be one reason why He got so upset that day in the temple.

Just curious.....Do you think there is anything to these thoughts and questions I have had or have I misread this?


G.W. said...

I have thought the same thing. Our former church charged for service CDs. I always wondered why they never offered pod casts or MP3s of the pastor's sermons since the whole world, it seems, is on iTunes. It dawned on me after we left that if the pastor limited access to his messages it added to elite air that he wanted to cultivate (since he told everyone that he was a good teacher). You were supposed to treat those overpriced CDs he offered like the manna he said it was while giving him a little revenue boost.

Good to see you adding new posts!

Set Free said...

Thanks for the comment G.W.

You made a great point!

D said...

I think you are absolutely right.
The GOSPEL is free!
So, why are people merchandising it? It's the EXACT same thing the money changers were doing then - Selling people stuff to "help" them with their religion.
Good news is, the RELATIONSHIP doesn't cost a dime, Jesus paid it ALL.

Anonymous said...

I think you are right on! I have thought the same thing.

Anonymous said...

At the church I used to go to, they were planning a 25th Anniversary "Gala." I would have thought this would have been an event that the whole church was going to be invited to. Would you believe that they were going to charge $300 a person? Yea, I said $300 person, not per family, but per person. I know of several people that left the church after that announcement. It shocked a lot of people that a church would charge that much knowing how many couldn't afford it. It's funny that you mention it, because I kind of thought they had the attitude that they only wanted classy people who could afford it to come. I may be wrong about that, but that's what I thought when they named that high price. Really, how many people can really afford to take their family out for that high price for one night -a family of 4 would have been $1200. You could go to the beach for week on that!

re-Barr said...

These things grieved God's heart 2000 years ago and they still are grieving him today. Sadly this is something that has plagued the church throughout history. The moneychangers way back then... indulgence in the catholic church, to buy your way out of purgatory... these ridiculous happenings today. I tried to argue for reducing prices of cd's at my last church. They were able to produce them for about 1 dollar (cost of cd, cost of production, cost of printing, cost of electricity, cost of the paper sleeve). They were up to 10 dollars a cd by the time I left. Well even if it was a good sermon that was a bit rich for my blood to buy some for others to hear. Heh, thankfully.

Another instance from my old church... the church royalty bought stuff from Pier 1 and marked it up, as though Pier 1 was their wholesaler, to sell in the church "bookstore". Okay now, where is the whole being a good steward of your money in buying that stuff. Makes you say ?huh?