"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Friday, October 7, 2011

Johnny Hunt Preaches on Grace Giving - If He Can, You Can Too, Pastor

"You're going to be shocked I even said this: The tithe isn't something that we can even fit into the picture....Jesus Christ has so affected my heart and life, that I just don't feel like I can do enough of worshiping Him, expressing grace to Him, being of service to Him, ministries to Him, sacrificially giving to Him. You go the other way if you want to, this is far above the law. It is called 'grace giving'. It is incredible." Johnny Hunt, 10/2/11.
-------------------------------
In these tough economic times we have heard some absolutely horrendous sermons by mega church pastors misusing scripture to twist people's arms into giving more. And it ain't working, giving continues to decline.

Last fall was a tithing disaster - we had the Ed Young, Jr. sheep-beating incident where he berated and humiliated people who don't give 10% - told them marriages and careers of non-tithers would suffer, told non-tithers to stay at home and don't come back right before attempting to collect their bank account numbers.

We had Mac Brunson on the very same day misuse scripture out of Hagaii to tell people that our nation's economic woes are due to the judgment of God on our nation for so many non-tithers, and then later tell them that God collects on the tithe through bringing calamity on non-tithers. Brunson also reached back into ancient history, making the idiotic case that tithing 10% to your church is a fundamental law placed by God into the human heart because the ancient Mesopotamians tithed to Marduke the Moon God. And we don't have enough space to write about Steve Gaines and Perry Noble and Robert Morris.

So it was refreshing to hear Johnny Hunt preach an October sermon last Sunday (10/2/11) out of the New Testament on grace giving. Hunt didn't reach back into Malachi or Haggai to threaten or coerce his people. He was tough for sure - he challenged his church members to give more than they have, but he was at least intellectually honest. He admitted that Malachi 3 speaks of a "temple tax", and is not related to grace giving as described in the New Testament. Hunt challenged his sheep to give generously to minister to people. He didn't threaten them with calamity, didn't tell them to stay home, didn't tell them that God will collect it anyways so you might as well give it.

So pastors - I know you are reading this blog - this year try a different tact out of pragmatism if for no other reason. As I said, your sheep beatings don't work, they don't motivate people, and the sheep are not so gullible as they used to be. Your revenue continues to decline. They are on to you. So stop with the tithing sermons out of Malachi. Stop lying to Christians telling them they have a 10% debt to God that they have to pay off each Sunday to be blessed. Challenge them to be grace givers, to give generously out of love for Christ and for people. Don't let your huge ego lead you to play the role of the Holy Spirit.

Try it. See if it works. Release your people from the notion of obligation to tithe, and see what happens.

If you want an idea of what it looks like to not preach the tithe but preach grace giving, watch this:



Pastors, as you go into your stewardship series this fall: preach the truth, be loving to your people, don't threaten them with calamity or curses. Don't use Malachi to falsely accuse people of robbing God. Realize you're not the Holy Spirit.

If you preach the truth, we'll highlight it on the blog.

If you beat the sheep and misuse scripture again this year, we'll also highlight it on the blog.

Watchdog is watching.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK - Having sat under that ministry for over 10 years I have to push back on this post. Although Johnny loves to use the word "Grace", that Grace is only given or provided to those who follow the concept of the "Temple Tax". Furthermore, the subject of giving is/was a constant topic because they need $300,000+ A WEEK to pay salaries and keep the lights on. So, does the pleading for money through the prism of grace make the concept of tithing more acceptable? Look back through his entire catalog and you will find hundreds of examples of sermons where he directly connects the willingness to tithe to whether or not one is "truly saved" and "bearing fruit" of that salvation. On the face of it, this particular sermon may fit into your current theological vision but Johnny is no different than the other mega-church pastors. He just wraps his financial sermons in friendlier terms but I caution you to watch for the stinger in the tail...

Sharon said...

I would love to hear specifics of how the preacher is giving his "all." What does that look like?

"worshiping Him, expressing grace to Him, being of service to Him, ministries to Him, sacrificially giving"-those are vague phrases which mean what exactly? And what is the money- given sacrificially -used for, and who gets to decide that?

I guess this is an improvement, but it's still about a guilt trip. Leaders should lead by example. He should explain about his own personal sacrifices for God. And there has to be a very good reason to make sacrifices. What exactly gets accomplished by the sacrifices? Are real people actually helped in some tangible way or encouraged or something?

It's like you're asked to give money to a cause where you have to just assume that some good is being done somewhere in there. Sacrificial giving that pays salaries of wealthy preachers, that does upkeep on a fancy building-what is the purpose of that?

I guess it's the whole thing of a wealthy preacher telling me to "sacrifice" that just doesn't work for me. It seems so hypocritical.

heartforG said...

Glad to know there are preachers who still have the integrity to preach the Word of God accurately and not use it for their own ends.

DAWG Watchdog said...

"Watchdog is watching."

I guess that you liken yourself a little like Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame.

Guard yourself so that your mortal shortcomings, now and in the future, do not become main stream news and water down your message.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 7:45 - I hear you completely. I'm just saying that at least, Hunt did not roll out the curses from Malachi 3, did not tell them that their life would be a shambles if they didn't fork over at least 0.1 of their gross income.

I remember back in 2008 when Hunt came to FBCJ on a Wed night I believe, when he gave a sermon that was essentially about how generous he was. He likes to use himself as an example of generosity way too much - he probably is a very generous guy.

So I'm not saying I'm on the Hunt bandwagon - I'm saying that the man is at least not misusing Malachi 3 like so many other preachers out there.

Dawg - I don't know who Julian Assage is. Wikileaks? Are you kidding? Yes, I have secret documents that I will be releasing to the public about preachers. Get real. I am watching and listening to their own sermons. Nothing secret about that.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 7:45 - another thought on the Hunt sermon: it was not great, in fact, you can call his style a grace guilt trip. He tries awfully hard in his sermon to make people feel guilty who don't give, he points out that the majority give almost nothing. Lots and lots of emotionalism in Hunts sermons lately. I don't remember him being so animated each Sunday. Also, the lack of response from his congregation while he is preaching hard is striking. Almost like he is trying to get the hearty amens, or an applause, but it falls flat. Just my observations.

Again, the bulk of the sermon was on giving out of the New Testament. Read the sermon notes at their website - tons and tons of NT verses, one verse out of Proverbs on giving. He has been a storehouse tithing preacher for a long time, and you won't hear this kind of sermon from the likes of Gaines, Brunson, Noble etc. anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

I recall seeing Mr.Hunt recently stating the he was a part of the TBN "family". This was a so called commercial featuring all the TBN gang that ran last Christmas.

Anonymous said...

If you're putting up Johnny Hunt and Wade Burleson as your heroes of the truth then we are in real trouble.

Anonymous said...

I guess not all pastors are guilty as you seem to think. Hopefully all those who think every pastor is a molester will read this one.

http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/6798/53/

Thy Peace said...

Paul Burleson > MISTAKES MADE BY MODERN MINISTERS--PART 1

Paul Burleson > MISTAKES MODERN MINISTERS MAKE--PART 11

Anonymous said...

I wonder where Les Puryear can send his email with the charge of antinomianism against Johnny Hunt?

Anonymous said...

Is grace giving a first gift or a leftover gift? I struggled most my life with things that ended up costing me financially. More auto than I needed, more house than I needed, private schools for child when public or homeschool was another option, not as costly. There were other things as well. I ended up making sure I gave but I always gave from my leftovers, rather than from my first fruits. Since I saw this in myself and made grace giving a priority on what God gets of the resources I have, I give more than ever and now have much less debt and am happier than I could ever believe.

Should it be first fruits? If not, why not?

Bojac said...

I am a pastor of a church with fewer than 300. Not being a pastor of a mega church that puts me in the back of the vineyard. having said that, maybe my not preaching on tithing or money precludes my ever rising to the rank of celebrity pastor. My thought on giving to the Lord starts with giving one's life completely and then the pocketbook will follow. God didn't call me to be money raiser. I have pastored several churches and had some type of bldg. programs in almost all of them. Point being a simple need was explained and money was no issue. God can still allow us to have money from the fish's mouth if that is what it takes. As an older pastor I say to the younger "seek ye first the kingdom of God" rhe mundane things will be resolved or at least that is whay I believe.

Anonymous said...

You ever read the Book...

Spending God's Money by Mary Branson?

Branson provides details that implicate high Southern Baptist officials and those details are not flattering. For example, (NAMB President) Bob Reccord “had a $1 million fund he could use at his discretion, no questions asked and no receipts required.” (Branson at p. 61)

When Reccord resigned, 41 Southern Baptist leaders signed a letter, praising Reccord and essentially whitewashing his “undisputed misuse of funds.” (Branson at p. 18) One of those signers was Johnny Hunt.

According to Branson, after Bob Reccord left the North American Mission Board, “auditors discovered that payments were being made to evangelist Jay Strack ($300,000) and Bob’s mega-pastor Johnny Hunt at Woodstock Baptist Church ($92,000). Final payments were sent after Bob resigned but before he left the building…. There were no written contracts. So nearly half a million dollars was paid to Strack and Hunt through verbal agreements with Bob.” (Branson at p. 113)

God is Good to Johnny Hunt!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that stuff about Reccord, Strack, and Hunt is true--sadly so.

I'm disgusted to be attending a SBC church.

Anonymous said...

Good post WD. Interesting clip of pastor Burleson's sermon. I noticed he was very particular, at the start of the video, to emphasize: "As long as you've attended...you've never heard me talk about the tithe; EVER!" While I'm not an advocate of teaching the "body of Christ" TO tithe; I do believe it is biblical and proper to teach the "body of Christ" ABOUT tithing. In Rom.15:4a, the apostle to the Gentiles said in part: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning...." Therefore, I believe that proper biblical teaching regarding the tithe: for instructional LEARNING, but never for commanding PRACTICAL application; is long overdue in the "body of Christ!" The better we understand the scriptures in CONTEXT: (even in spirit & in truth,) the clearer the line between truth & error becomes. Then our giving, serving, loving, etc. can never be dictated by curses, limited to percentages, nor governed by selfishness, but rather motivated by faith which worketh by love!
Grace & Peace - Elder gab

Anonymous said...

These mega church pastors crack me up. Hunt had best stop posting pics of his exotic vacations on his wife's blog while asking people to pony up to keep his six figures coming in.

I encourage people to give to someone in need anonymously but in the Name of Jesus.... not to those monstrosities of entertainment and greed we call mega churches.

Can you imagine how that would impact someone who is struggling? An envelope under the door with a few hundred bucks with a note. Given in the Name of Jesus.

Now that is grace giving. Not to keep up the gaudy appearances of the mega church huckstsers.

Seriously, they are scared to death about money these days. Guess they don't trust God. :o)

Anonymous said...

Things are not good in mega church land. The money is not flowing like it used to and they are very concerned. I left the staff of a mega church 6 years ago and even back then, they needed at least 2 million a month to operate at par. I left before 2 more very large buildings were added to campus and before them, the electric bill alone was about 25,000 a month. I can imagine what it is now.

There is more but to make my point: All of this is absurd when stop and think about it in the light of scripture. How did we become this ridiculous and think this massive spending on such ostentation brings God glory? I think He is about to teach us a lesson in His economics.

Does anyone here think these mega church pastors could actually live on the average salary of your state? Say 50,000 grand a year? I say they would freak out and consider it a great hardship.

Sharon said...

Anon 12:37 & Anon 12:45,

Great comments!

If pastors have a lavish lifestyle, why do people give them money? Because they equate it to giving money to God. That has got to be one of the most successful rackets ever perpetrated. These kind of pastors want you to look at them and see the Bible and God. Then you'll hand over your money. I really wish people would start thinking about these issues that have been drilled into their brains for so long that it's hard to start seeing it differently.

Bob Lee said...

Feed the sheep good spiritual food and you will not have to beg them to pay.

Just like the truly anointed don't have to beg God to perform a healing, if you are anointed and pray you don't have to force God to heal, He is more than happy to do so.

Bob Lee said...

Feed the sheep good spiritual food and you don't have to beg.