Related to the previous subject of storehouses, is the lack of preachers’ accountability for money which is given to them. Tithe-taking preachers actually claim that it is none of your business what they do with your tithe money. You are supposed to “trust them” in that they will be putting it to a Godly use.
Those are their terms, and there is nothing scriptural about it. Of course no one is holding a gun to your head, and if you agree to their arrangement then you had better just give them the money, keep your mouth shut, and pretend that you are blessed because of it. That is entirely your choice to do so but it certainly does not qualify as any scriptural definition of “honoring God with your wealth”.
Do you know how much money your preacher is receiving and/or where it goes? If you have a responsibility, or so-called obligation that they claim you have to give them money, then they have an obligation to account for what they do with it. This means detailed accounts for all of it.
You not only have a right, but a responsibility to know where that money goes. To do any less indicates a degree of immaturity, carelessness, and lack of wisdom. Fiscal accountability is part of the stricter judgment that anyone should expect if they intend to live by the sweat and generosity of others, and preachers are no exception.
2Kings 12:4-11 Tells the story of how King Jehoash gave the priests silver to repair the temple, yet years later the job had not been accomplished. He had to get on their case and in their face about it in order to get the work done that was paid for, otherwise the priests would have pocketed the money for themselves. So that is a scriptural example of how we need to be “right there” supervising money given to preachers and making them accountable.
What’s that you say? The pro-tithers never mentioned any of those scriptures on accountability? Let me point out a few:
2Chronicles 31:12-19 is an example of the accountability that I am talking about – the care, responsibility, and documentation of tithed items, and where they went. The tithe did not belong to the Levite who received it. He was instead only a fiduciary of that food until it got to the storehouse where it got registered. From there it was apportioned to the other Levites.
Likewise in New Covenant times. In Acts 4:34-37, the Apostles handled money only as long as it took to distribute it to the needy, because the Apostles knew it was not their money. They could be trusted to keep their fingers out of the till.
The exception was Judas who was dead by this time. He apparently was an illustration of a selfish and unaccountable steward of money that was “given to God”. You would not know it from reading the King James Version of the Bible, but John 12:6 says that Judas was a thief because he pilfered money from the donation box, which he had been entrusted with.
So, why was he called a thief in almost every translation, including updated versions of the KJV? If Judas was a bona-fide Apostle and a preacher, was he not free to help himself to the collection money and spend it as he wished, as many of today’s preachers do? Obviously not; that money had tight restrictions on its use: it was for basic necessities for Jesus and the Apostles, and to benefit others; as supported by John 13:29 for example: “For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor”.
John 3:20-21 “For everyone who does evil hates the light [of exposure to others], and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may become known as having been wrought of God”.
This idea does not fit well with most tithe-receiving preachers or with certain church boards when it is applied to them. What are they hiding? They sure seem to prefer the darkness of secrecy when they say something like “just trust me”.
When governments are secretive and unaccountable about money like this we call it corruption; when tax-exempt charities do it we call it illegal; but in the preacher-defined kingdom paradigm, it is just business as usual.
In contrast to the modern “trust me” doctrine, in 1Corinthians 16:1-4 Paul explains his hands-off process of collecting donations for the poor. The plan called for having that wealth remain under the care and responsibility of, not Paul, and not Paul’s family members or his buddies; but under the responsibility of men who were trusted and specifically designated by the givers of the donations in letters of authorization.
2Corinthians 8 echoes this concept when it talks again about the same or a similar situation of gifts that were collected and to be distributed to the needy. Paul points out the integrity of Titus and another highly esteemed preacher who was elected by the congregation, as being involved in this effort with Paul, and in charge of the distribution. The impeccable character of these men notwithstanding, verses 18-21 describe yet another brother of high character who was also appointed by the congregations as a representative to make sure that the donated items were honestly distributed. Verse twenty explains that this was done to keep everything on the up and up, and so no one could make accusations of embezzlement or playing favorites in distribution, etc.
So you have here Paul, Titus, and a two representatives of the donors of all the stuff being distributed; four men who, in theory would keep each other honest. Paul calls this the “honorable” way of doing things.
The honorable way of doing things.
Yet today’s preachers, apparently (in their own minds) being much better men than Paul or Titus, thumb their nose at this scriptural example by ignoring it. They even take great offense to the suggestion that they be held accountable for your money because according to them they are beyond reproach, and beside that it is none of your business. So it should not be rocket science for us to figure out that these are people of a dishonorable nature, or at least unsubmissive to scriptural instruction.
Furthermore, 2Corinthians 9:5 tells us that part of these men’s responsibilities was to make sure during the collection that no one felt coerced or pressured in any way to give anything that they were not happy to give; no guilt trips, no hokey promises of getting rich, or warnings of disaster to those who did not give. This is yet another instruction ignored by the hard-sell tithe promoting preachers of today.
Paul said in 1Thess 5:22 to “avoid the appearance of evil”. I have heard this interpreted to mean that: when evil appears, you should flee from it; but that does not seem to be a winning strategy for Christians. Stephen, Peter, Paul and others certainly did not flee from evil. They stood and confronted it.
Instead, it sounds more like Paul is saying that not only should we not do evil, but that we should not even look like we might be doing evil; to not even give anyone a reason to misconstrue what we are doing as being up to no good.
Did Paul and Titus need to be supervised that way with those donations? Judging by their track records obviously not, but they were following the example of Ezra 8:24-34, in which the gold and silver freewill offerings of the people were carefully counted several times before several responsible persons.
Nehemiah 10:38-39 indicates that even though the Levites went out to collect the tithes, one Aaronite priest went along to keep tabs. “And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.
And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.
These scriptures set an example for the honorable way to handle situations involving money or material goods, but again, the “Law teaching” preachers ignore what they do not like.
Without close supervision, you may get something like 2Chronicles 24:7 where the priests were stealing money meant for the restoration of the temple, and using it instead for Baal temples and idols.
This equates exactly to modern preachers who take money that was intended for doing God’s work, and giving it instead to the Baals of luxury living for themselves.
As an equal member of a true Christian congregation, the way the scriptures depict it you would have a right to know details of the comings and goings of money in the common fund that you contributed to. This includes money that you have given to a preacher, church corporation, or any other group that you assume to qualify as “giving to God”.
The Commercial Alternative
On the other hand, as a paying consumer of a chain store religious franchise, or some preacher’s privately owned religion business, which is what we are really living with today in almost all cases, you can ignore everything that I just said; you have no such rights. You are a merely financial asset to that business.
The preacher is the proprietor, CEO, branch manager or owner of the “ministry” that you are giving your money to. As such, church income, profit, and investment accounts are only the preacher’s business, not yours. You are the preacher’s customer in this case; not a shareholder in his enterprise, and you are certainly not a bona fide equal member of a scripturally formed ecclesia.
The difference is similar to the difference between Deuteronomy 12:13-14
“Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:
But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.”
and the very next verse, Deuteronomy 12:15 “Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.”
The difference is, that one is a God-ordained time and place for a sanctified event that is in accordance with scripture, and the other is a routine worldly
happening that is directed by man when and where it suits his own purposes. Like a back yard cook out.
Unfortunately, because of their commercial nature, most churchgoing experiences conducted by professional preachers fall into the latter category of being an unsanctified, worldly social event, no matter how elaborately they dress it in pomp and a religious façade.
Where Did the Money Go?
Just like one of those toy wind-up metal mystery boxes that will make a grinding noise when a coin is placed on it, and a creepy hand reaches out and snatches the coin into the box. That is a real life analogy to the church corporations, ministries, and proprietorships that are “black box” business organizations – you put your money in, preaching comes out. You know nothing of the inner workings, but it is such an interesting and emotionally satisfying show that you keep putting the money in to see it perform again and again.
Remember that no matter how much a preacher sucks up to the big money tithers, or ingratiates himself to you and your family, it is all part of his job. You are there because you want to be there, he is there because he is paid to be there.
Let us think about this for a minute: Does your preacher care about saving your soul so much that he is willing to pay you money to come to church, or pay you to follow God’s Law? Does he offer a cash bonus for you to get baptized? Or to pray? Obviously not. In fact these concepts are so absurd that they may have never even occurred to most people.
We know that people are expected to be good, pray, and be baptized for free, and rightly so because it is for their own ultimate benefit. Most people instinctively know in their heart of hearts that like oil and water, spirituality and materialism do not go together well. Bought and paid for prayers have got to be even more useless than an amateur palm reading. Yet paid preachers are as ubiquitous today as paid bus drivers, even though prayers, communion, and preaching that they perform are supposed to be spiritual activities like the others just mentioned.
As the example in Chapter 1 indicates, some preachers are paid far more than you will ever know or might imagine. Certainly more than what their needs would indicate or what scripture allows. Once money is introduced, it becomes only a matter of time between which the preacher grabs the money, and the money grabs the preacher.
Ask to see the books from the past year – income and expenses, and do not forget that green cash usually does not show up on these ledgers. Then see what he says; whether he is open to the idea, or if his friendly demeanor turns cold.
Also, if you are a member of an incorporated church, ask to see the church charter or articles of incorporation to make sure that there is not a clause in there that makes the members personally responsible for the church corporate debt.
You can either give these entrepreneurs your money, pretend it is going to God, and be on your way; or you can give your money offerings to God and honor Him the way God Himself tells you to do it. Again, we will cover that in detail later.