The modern day mega church is a million dollar business, and through tithes offerings and other “seeds” as they are called in the modern day church lives have been changed. I have had the opportunity to visit and attend church services in some major churches, both local ones and international ones, and one thing that I can testify of is that the gospel is big business. Many a time I have debated with followers of the big money ministries and a few of the “man of God” as they are called and the view is that the money needed in most of these churches is for the furtherance of the gospel. Some have actually made claims that without the millions that are poured into their ministries monthly, the gospel cannot be preached effectively. What really is the role of money in church?
Personally I hold the view that money is not very essential in the furtherance of the gospel, and that the exaggerated emphasis on money is misplaced priorities of the church. Firstly I believe that one never needs a lot of money, to preach the gospel. I take the preaching of the gospel as any endeavor that one might venture into in life. Like all life choices that have costs, we as humans always try to get the best results from as little finances as possible. Like any other daily business, starting with the resources that one has is a great point of departure in the preaching of the gospel. Individuals and companies bootstrap, and entrepreneurs always try to provide solutions with the least costs one can incur, I believe such mentality should be the one that exists in churches. Do more with the little that you have, the greatest asset that we have is human capital which is always abundant in the church. The preaching of the gospel then should start with the individuals in church. Imagine rather than spend a lot of money on the pastor who preaches the gospel to about a congregation of 500 people, if individuals could use those resources to preach as they do their daily chores and business, how effective would be the gospel.
Since the greatest asset in the spread of the gospel is the medium of the human body isn’t it logical also to conclude that money is not the one that propels the gospel to go further rather than people who are willing to spread the gospel? One might argue that you would need money to do that, but I will disagree with that with a simple logic, one never needs money to be a sinner or to spread hate and hurt to the world, but only the evil to desire to cause harm. So much more the gospel is desire based. A desire to spread the gospel would enable a person going to work in a kombi, for example, to share the word with his neighbour in the most polite way, hence spreading the gospel. If only the mega church could realise the potency of the word of mouth in spreading even the slightest of rumour, word of mouth can be with the most minimal cost be used as a tool to spread the gospel. With such an approach it becomes apparent that the need for large volumes of money to have mega churches becomes irrelevant and the appetite for money from mega churches will also depreciate while doing more. Rather than increasing its appetite for money, the church should rather invest in teaching people to appreciate the role of love and desire to have others come to Christianity. With such sincere deep desire to see a better world, and love that floods the heart of the ordinary member to speak about Christ, the church will do more with little or no money.
Also diverting a little from the logical argument to a biblical argument, the commission to preach was preceded with an instruction for people to wait until they had their hearts infused with the spirit so that they can preach the gospel. Surely if money was the major power behind the gospel would not Jesus the Christ have instructed the disciples to wait till they had some certain amount of monies to start the gospel mission? I am sure in his wisdom he instructed them to wait for the gift of the Spirit rather than for the gifts of dollars.
History would testify to the efficacy of their message, many men without education managed to spread the gospel like a fire without money, but only a deep desire to save lost souls. The gospel reached kings it reached palaces it reached the highest dignitaries, just from ordinary men and women. Surely if money was that essential I am sure the instruction would have been to wait for money. In terms of coverage of the gospel and how they influenced their times, even without the luxuries that most modern day clergy enjoyed, they did more.
I always wonder why even Jesus the Christ instructed them at one point not even to carry bread or many pairs of clothes, it should highlight something special about spreading a message. Other luxuries are not necessary, but only a heart infused with the spirit to work and to do.
Most of the mega churches have managed to set up television stations, and the argument is that the TV is more effective than any other methods in reaching other people. Surely truth is far away from this. First and foremost, a TV channel costs thousands if not millions of dollars every month to broadcast the gospel, but its effectiveness is dubious. First and foremost, many people who scroll down gospel channels are believers who already are in the faith, and unbelievers do rarely check out gospel channels.
Also many remote areas do not afford things such as TV sets, so the target is very limited. Crusades on the other hand and outreaches to preach the gospel have more reach than the TV and can be done with the least resources that are available to the church. This not only unburdens believers from unnecessary money begging from the mega church clergy, but also improves the gospel’s reach to others.
Surely no areas in the world are not reachable, as long as people are there the gospel fire can be carried in the hearts of such men and women in those areas. I think some expenses that the church incur are very unnecessary, and frugal clergy is now needed to do more with fewer resources.
TV evangelism, not discarding it altogether, has lost the personal touch that the original gospel had. I am of the belief that the instruction to go and preach the gospel is based on the fact that human beings are social creatures who enjoy the company of each other and are persuaded more through interaction with others rather than seeing someone on TV. It is always a greater feeling to meet and spend time with a person you love than calling them and trying to make conversations.
The presence of an individual is more desirable than pictures that are more impersonal. So I believe with such knowledge it also follows that the gospel is more effective if it is preached personally to people rather than with impersonal approaches. The mega church TV also is a marketing tool for the man of God and the ministry which at times brings a lot of drama and fiction to the gospel which many times acts as a deterrent for people to know Christ more.
I have also noticed a trend of mega churches who are in the habit of encouraging people to come from all over the world to visit their churches so that God would touch them through the man of God. People are flying all over the world and visiting major churches, but at times the question we ask is, “Is this really necessary?” I will try to put argue a point with simple math. Imagine more than 1000 people coming to congregate in a mega church having flown from 20 different countries. Being prudent we assume that each pays a plane ticked of US$1000 to go to see the man of God. I don’t have a calculator now, but that is a lot of money, then if we include food and accommodation, it is imperative that a lot of money is being used with wanton disregard to the basic human nature to do more with fewer resources. Imagine if those people can invite the man of God in their respective counties with that money, hire a venue and pay his expenses, surely the clergy would be able to attend more people this way and even fulfill better the great commission of preaching the gospel.
It is my humble view that most of these clergy who want people to come to be attended at their mega churches rather than going to the people do so because they want to build their empires more than they want to build the body of Christ as a whole. We have seen people who were poor who have started churches and turned into multi-millionaires overnight.
Are these the blessings of the Lord or deliberate efforts to amass wealth through the gospel, and using expensive methods to try to achieve things that can be achieved without the volume of the resources demanded? Surely can one claim blessings when he has built a posh house with money from a congregation of poor people while he only prospers and the other suffer in abject poverty? Surely if Christians are to become honest with themselves and mega churches re-evaluate their methods of operation, it becomes apparent that the role of money in spreading the gospel is very minimum and the church can do more without most of the money that is demanded every service in the churches.