Sunday, January 8, 2012

“Money Is Your God!”

New Testament Christian Church is preoccupied with the financial state of its organization, the flow of money back to the main organizational headquarters, the promotion of giving and tithing among the local members, and the accumulation of money through various small contributions to a list of earmarked departmental funds. This preoccupation is characterized as “The Work of the Lord”, “Teaching people to give so they can be blessed”, and “Responsible” pastoring.

  Yet it is almost certain that, if individual ministers or church members took it in their heads to actually work harder, longer hours in some vocation or other commercial endeavor; or if they were to make an effort to earn more money from a 9-5 job, to take particular interest in the well-being of their family, and to seek through a variety of means to bring in additional income in order to pay the bills and invest for the future, their motives would be questioned. While lip-service would be paid to the notion that “We want to see you and your family blessed”, the question would be raised as to one’s purpose in life and one’s lack of participation in church activities. Perhaps the accusation would be leveled from behind the safety of the pulpit that “Money is your God!” Seeking to better oneself through hard work and education is discouraged unless it somehow fits in with the program espoused and promoted by the pastor of the local church.
  If you wish to get a second job, it had better not interfere with church services or soul-winning. If you live too far away to attend Saturday door-knocking and invitation activities, you will perhaps be encouraged to find a hotel for Friday night at your own expense. If you attempt to further your education through night or weekend classes, you will probably be discouraged in this due to the fact that, with a schedule that conflicts with church attendance, your education cannot possibly be within the will of God. Again, it will be supposed by this money-oriented assembly that you are fixated on money. Point out the obvious extortion scheme of threatening people with hell for neglecting to pay tithes and you will be labeled as greedy, covetous, and willing to “rob from God.”
  Keep ‘Em Poor and Busy
  NTCC enjoys a great deal of power and influence in the lives of the faithful. The vice of control has two parts, between which the victim is ceaselessly squeezed. The pressure is applied variously between a system of continual activity and one of performance accountability. Your dedication to the church is interpreted as your dedication to God, and any letdown in your giving or in the sacrifice of your time is questioned, so that the victim learns to pressure him or herself without anyone else having to say anything. One begins to doubt his own salvation or personal commitment to Christ as soon as he begins to feel that he cannot do more than he is already doing. The first hint that the activity is “just too much” is accompanied by a Pavlovian response that first banishes the thought and then determines to achieve more in the way of labor and devotion than ever before.
  The organizational leadership of NTCC enjoys a degree of comfort and affluence rarely seen among the run-of-the-mill ministers or laity. At the same time, they encourage an ever-increasing degree of giving and dedication in order to carry out the purposes of the group. The individual members are therefore in an endless cycle of debt and personal lack, the well-being of their families coming in a distant second to that of the church and its pastor. Unable to commit themselves to further employment and other means of provision without the usual accompanying condemnation, lured by promises that “God will bless”, they give more and more, while earning less than they need. Add to this the ignominy of being condemned by the pastor for indebtedness, and the pressure to attend expensive and largely fruitless conferences and fellowship meetings, and you have a recipe for domestic disharmony. Marriages are strained and broken, personal dreams and goals go unrealized, family needs are sacrificed for the group, children are ignored, spouses argue constantly at home, and in all of this the preacher imperiously demands more.
  True to the tactics of most cults, the members are kept busy, impoverished, condemned, beaten down, lacking sleep and generally unable to take time, step back, and evaluate what they are doing. Any suggestion that the cycle should be interrupted or the system questioned is met with accusations of doubt, unbelief, selfishness and “letting the devil talk to you”.
  From the perspective of the controlling church, people who are not under pressure are not useful, people who are allowed to dispose of their property as they see fit are not helpful, and people who can think for themselves are dangerous.

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