Three recent events at our church in September:
1. This past Sunday night Johnny Hunt preached a sermon that was about how much he loves Jesus, and therefore because he loves Jesus then how much money he gives to so many ministries. He talked numbers and percentages about what he gives - if he could have he would have given himself a standing ovation. I think he was trying to say that his listeners should love Jesus as much as he does, and then we would be giving large portions of our incomes to the Lord's work like HE does. I've been a Christian for many, many years, and I've heard thousands of sermons by hundreds of preachers. That was the most self-serving, egotistical, absolutely disgusting sermon I've ever heard. It took everything I had to not get up and walk out. There were others that felt the same way I'm sure. His message to FBC Jax and to NAME missionaries: fall in love with Jesus (like Johnny has), and you TOO will want to give most of what you have "to the Lord". If you want to see his sermon, go to the http://www.bellevue.org/ site, to their sermon archives and you can see the same exact sermon that he preached at Bellevue on August 29th...[we don't archive our sermons yet; perhaps we can take up an offering this Sunday night to get our services archived on the Internet]
2. Right before Johnny preached, while the high schoolers were in their place in the loft and orchestra pit, Mac felt the need to mention that he and other staff were agonizing over the budget and that they would be cutting off "reward trips" for the young people. He said he wanted to see who wanted to serve the Lord not for rewards, but out of committment. Although he said it in passing, it did seem as though it was because of a tightness of the budget; although it could have been just a stewardship decision.
3. This month is stewardship month where Mac is talking about stewardship of our time, talents, and money. He will be talking about giving your money to the Lord's work, through the FBC Jax. He will likely use video testimonies. He will point you to scripture to convince you to give more of your money to the church. The church marketing firm the A-Group is likely helping Mac put together the some messages and video presentations and gimmicks to help you see that more of your family's money needs to leave your pocket and go into the church accounts...."for the Lord" of course.
Does all of this ever leave you wondering if you're being "plundered" by a spiritual leader who is a millionaire who likes the high-life rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous in our town and convention, trying to get you to give more of your money for their own gain? Their gain in building a bigger church, hiring more of their friends and family, and more of their own ego? Do you ever feel like a sheered sheep when you're told that he wants to see who will serve not for rewards, when he and his wife are receiving HUGE rewards via outrageous salaries and perks? You're told by preachers in your beloved church pulpit that you need to love Jesus and if you did you'd give more, that too many are serving for rewards and not committment, and things are tight and we need to cut some areas and or course you need to give more.
If you have been feeling like this in recent days, take a look at the following article. You won't agree with everything written, I sure don't. But some of what he says fits perfectly at our church. Please, don't read this if you are easily offended by reading views that challenge long-held religious beliefs concerning tithing. But in the light of recent events at our church over the past year and a half, I'm leaning toward the "plundered" view and will govern myself accordingly in the stewardship of my money and what I give to the church.
Click here for the article.