Thursday, August 16, 2018

“Church and Welfare”

The Corinthian Church, the Galatian Church, the Ephesian Church... ...were taught by Paul to give money. Please, let us also emphasize that the monies that were "given" were used to meet the needs of fellow believers - to meet their material or physical needs, for example: feeding, clothing, health care, etc. The Apostle Paul made it clear that the offerings collected were for the purpose of "welfare".

We see many Churches today neglecting the needs (physical or material) needs of their members and pouring money into building projects, media outreach, etc. Please, how can you neglect to show love to the people you see – those around you but claim to show love to people you do not see (those who watch TV or listen to radio stations)? We must understand the deep implications of "first love". We must start by first showing love to those we see in our Churches and then we can, in a very powerful way, reach out to those out there who we do not see or who are not in close proximity to us.

The best strategy is to, "Take good care of your people - your members", first. Assist them from the money collected. Also, teach them how to make money. And then they will be empowered and encouraged to join hands with you to reach out to those out there through TV, Radio, etc. They also will be inspired to show love to others as they go about their daily activities. "Love is contagious." The love they receive from their Churches will "infect them" and they will spread it!

Yes, money should be allocated to buildings and outreach activities. But enough money MUST be allocated to "welfare". We take care of our people and then (together) we can more readily do so much more with regards to impacting our world. This is the strategy the likes of the Apostles Peter and Paul implemented. This is one key reason they had so much impact during their time – a very great impact that reverberates even to this day. This is one very important ingredient you need to create a sustainable impact on "the World Mind".

During Jesus' public ministry, Judas Iscariot was his treasurer. The money in his care was used to take care of the families of the Master's Apostles - for these Apostles "left all" to follow Him. Money was also used for the welfare of others. Some of the money also went towards the Master's material needs and that of the 12. The "behind the scenes" effective administration of money played a very, very important role in the success of Jesus' public gospel ministry. We must learn to take care of our people – our members.

You may ask, “Was the money in Judas' purse used to meet the needs of Jesus, his Apostles and their families?” It may not be there in black and white in the Bible. However, we can deduce. Judas Iscariot was the treasurer. Now, what did they do with the money? We know the Apostles "left all" to follow Jesus, to be with Him in His travels and all that. Sometimes they would go fishing. But that was never enough to meet their daily needs and that of their respective families... Please, take note: we are talking about meeting needs not funding luxuries!

We know Jesus did not erect buildings with the money. So, the question remains, "Please, what did they do with the money?" Some of it went into meeting the needs of their families. Some went into taking care of other people. 

Let's look at the miracle of feeding the multitude with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Mark 6:35-37, "And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?”" 

We need the power of deduction; the ability to draw inferences. Jesus told his Apostles, “You give them something to eat.” We can infer from this statement that, this was not the first time Jesus and his team fed people. Look at the conversation very closely, please. The Apostles were not surprised about that statement. They were used to feeding people. But they were concerned that they did not have enough on that day to feed those present. Jesus wanted them to feed the people. However, right there and then, they had only two hundred denarii. It was not enough. Hence, the Master made a decision to resort to a miracle... This tells you that it was not uncommon to see Jesus and His Apostles dipping their hands into their Ministry's funds to meet the needs of people. Remember, they had a Ministry purse. Judas Iscariot was their treasurer. Donations from Ministry partners were kept by Judas.

Also, consider how the 12 Apostles lived in the early days of the Church (Please, see Acts 4). In Acts 4, it was easy for them to bring money together and provide for the needs of the believers because they were already used to such things. When Jesus was with them, they cooperated to meet one another's needs. After Jesus left, they continued in that practice. But of course, we know they took it too far, selling all their belongings, laying the proceeds at "the Apostles' feet", believing the world was soon to end. The world never ended and believers from other parts of the world had to come to their rescue. Anyway, back to the key point, which is this: The spirit of working together, as believers to see that nobody suffers lack. Churches or Gospel Groups should hold onto this spirit. It is a powerful strategy to show love and spread love. 

We should not spend too much money erecting physical buildings and paying for media outreach at the detriment of meeting the needs of our members, most especially the poor in our midst. We cannot claim to have the love of God for "the world" when we neglect the people in our midst. Take care of your people. Empower them. Then you all can do a far better job in ministering to the world out there. This is what Jesus did. Peter and Paul as well. And boy, did they spread their message far and wide? You bet!

Every generation is different. We may have physical buildings today. And it's okay. (These buildings must be realistic and “within budget”.) But we must not neglect the poor and needy in our midst. If we neglect them, then it shows we do not have a clear understanding of the gospel that Jesus presented.


We MUST ask, "Please, what should be done with the monies collected?" In the Bible, we see that Jesus (inferred from Mark 6:35-37); His 12 Apostles (Acts 4:32-37) and the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 16:1-4) used monies collected to MEET THE NEEDS (PHYSICAL NEEDS) OF PEOPLE. Money was not used to erect ridiculously expensive buildings or projects that are way out of budget. Also, money was NOT used to fund luxurious lifestyles of Ministry or Church leaders. Yes, some of the money went into meeting the needs of leaders. But it was their basic needs. Nowhere in the NT (New Testament scriptures) did Ministry money go into funding or paying for extravagant expenses, ludicrous expenses, luxuries, and whatnot.

Acts 4:32-37
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Beloved, I hope you saw it (verse 35). The money "was distributed to anyone who had need". The needs of the leaders and their members were met. It was not the needs of the leaders alone. And it was their "basic needs" NOT extravagant, luxurious "wants" like very expensive cars, private jets, million-dollar mansions, etc. Ministry money is not for funding luxurious lifestyles. Anyone who wishes to live in luxury MUST go work for the money himself/herself – go get a job that pays you six figures or more or go start and run your own private business with your own money and then develop it into a multi-million dollar business and then fund your luxuries with "your own money" NOT Church's money.

1 Corinthians 16:1-4
1 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.

It is very clear in verse 1: "Now about the collection for the Lord’s people..." Paul raised money to meet the needs of people! Jesus, the 12 Apostles and the Apostle Paul WERE PEOPLE FOCUSED! The needs of people - most especially, fellow believers (or "Church members") were not neglected. All the monies were not poured into taking care of the Senior Pastor alone; into buildings alone; and not into outreach expenses alone. But today, we see Ministries pouring so much money on Radio, TV and Internet outreaches AND close their eyes to the needy in their midst. Very un-Jesus-like. "Please, where is your love?" 1 Corinthians 13 highlights: If I do not have love, I am nothing...

When your heart is quickened by the all-powerful, life transforming teachings of Jesus Christ, you will not only preach and teach. You will also be interested in identifying various areas of need in the society. You will then do something remarkable to meet these needs. A spirit-filled life is devoted to doing practical, physical things to meet needs in addition to “talk, preach and pray”. Jesus met physical needs. He fed people. The Apostles met the physical or material needs of their members with the money laid at their feet. The Apostle Paul raised money to meet needs of believers who were going through financial hardship. When Missionaries came to Nigeria, they also met physical needs: free education, free health care (or very easily affordable), etc. When Caucasians from the Southern Baptist Convention, United States of America came to Eku, Delta State to preach and teach, they set up the Eku Baptist Hospital. Was it not free or easily affordable? By their fruits you shall know them. It’s not by mere grandstanding and speaking grammar.

If a preacher is spending millions of US dollars per year in the ownership, use and maintenance of a private jet, then how much money is he/she spending in showing love to the poor and the needy - how much goes towards meeting their physical needs: food, shelter, skills acquisition programs, money management skills, health care, etc? How much is spent in solving social problems? How much? Please, compare and contrast. Discover where his/her heart is.

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