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Can you afford to go to church?

Africa HYS team | 11:42 UK time, Thursday, 6 January 2011

Regular BBC Africa HYS listener Francis Kennedy Ocloo from Ghana says the church is taking too much money from its congregation.  "Sometimes it is too embarrassing if you not able to contribute," he adds.

Church congregation (AP)

 

Does your church expect too much from you financially? Does the way collections are conducted put people under pressure? Does the pressure to contribute deter you from attending? 

How much do you know about how the funds are spent? 

If you are from another faith group, are you faced with similar issues?

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on air on Thursday 6th January at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I am a United Methodist and live in Monrovia, Liberia. What my fellow Christian is saying very true in many parts of Africa including my country Liberia. I once said on this blog that our people are being led to believing that the more money you give to the church, the better your path to heaven, especially so when you are contributing to the well-being of the Pastor of Preacher man. What is more terrifying is the inability of these men or women of God to properly account for these funds. Judging from my experience, questioning church leaders on anything that has to do with finances is like questioning God's representative who is believed to be beyond reproached. At the moment, we are experiencing this kind of situation in the religious community of Liberia. Pastors or Preachers are getting wealthier while their members living conditions are getting bad.

  • Comment number 2.

    Churches in Nigeria play on people’s ignorance, poverty and general despair. They extort money from their members with the promise of prosperity, good health, good life and general wellbeing. This is anchored on the generosity of the believer by sowing seeds (money) that is expected to germinate and leads to prosperity. However, this prosperity is only experienced by the church owners while the congregations wallow in poverty. In Nigeria, a church member embezzled over N40m which he donated to the church, when arrested, the pastor claimed he never sent him to embezzle. My mother - in - law is always a victim of these extortion, even on her sick bed pastors were requesting her monthly contributions.
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 3.

    This is not a concession I ever thought I'd make, having always argued that our problems are caused by atrocious political leadership, but I'm now convinced that this is not the whole picture. For our gullibility (and our willingness to ignore the obvious) is almost unmatched elsewhere. Take the emergence of so-called "churches". These, to any rational observer, are clearly criminal enterprises run by snake-oil salesmen, who care as much about the teachings of Christ as an Innuit does about Tutankhamen's nappies. Yet, although many of their followers are dirt-poor, they don't mind "challenging God" with huge, regular "tithes." And not even the obscenely palatial mansions and private jets acquired with their "tithes" are enough to raise any scintilla of doubt the true purposes of these "tithes."

    The same attitude applies to political leadership. Try telling our people that that brand new (if only half-completed) airport or stadium in the regional governor's village serves no useful economic purpose and should never have been built, and you're labelled an enemy of "progress." Or that the selfish machinations of a local political "godfather" are unlikely to result in meaningful employment for young people or a half-decent education for our kids. Alas, duplicity and cunning are considered heroic virtues by our people. And we wonder why we remain mired in misery so long after independence.

  • Comment number 4.

    This is incredible, the so-called men of God,gosple preachers who are expected to impart bible principles to the people are now making prosperity,success as their theme of preaching,indirectly, they are making life difficult for their congregations, many feel reluctant of going to church because they cannot afford compulsory contributions, they will reap their reward in full, for there will be no hiding place for the creator of the universe.

  • Comment number 5.

    The issue of soliciting money in the name of Jesus is not unique to Africa, rather it is a world wide practise. Look at all the Christian non-profit oragnizations present in Africa. What do they do? They solicit money and their founders and CEO earn six figures. The form of Christianity presently practised in Africa has nothing to do with the local cultures but a Western form of Christianity which is heavily loaded with entrepreneurism. The Vatican City was built out of soliciting money from the poor. Mega churches are built by borrowing money from the bank and making the poor souls pay that morgage. The only trur and authentic church is one described in the Acts of The Apostles, meaning that everything was held in common to help the most poor of the community. Church is about business and manupulation. Read Christian books on how to fundraise and you will see that 100% of the church meetings are about raising money and not visiting the sick or caring for the orphans.

  • Comment number 6.

    I believe the question is not whether or not one can afford to go to church, but the beggar syndrome of some pastors is a complete put off!!! In Uganda, one female pastor told her congregation that it was not acceptable to give god coins!!! Now for anyone who had gone to church that day with coins, the feeling must have been terrible!!!

    Then the concept of contributing towards all sorts of things, including pastors' trips overseas!!! First collection is ordinary offertory ... second for building the church or reverend's house, .... third for Charity (caritas) ... fourth is tithe ... by that time you are so upset you wanna get the blessing and leave!!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Tithing to a church is strictly voluntary unless you are in a cult that requires one to give-up possessions. Some people say that there are two things that are unavoidable and can happen to you: death and taxes. They forgot to include tithing.
    1.)Income tax (Assume) 15%-40% of earnings contribute.
    2.)Tithe contribution 10% of earnings are given.
    3.)Death 100% of earnings are gone.

  • Comment number 8.

    I can afford to go to church simply because I give tithe when I feel like it and certainly won't be coerced into giving. When I go to church, it is to pray in peace not to be a member, or to hear any preaching that they don't practice or get a blessing from any human being. It is interesting to see how we Africans get unhappy with our politicians but refuse to see the evil done in the name of god. In which case, the blame lies entirely on the congregation as they provide the platform for these so called men of god to bully and abuse those who put their trust into them. The question is, do people really have to go to such churches to prove their Christianity, does god need a middle man to be reached. In my view, the answer is no in both cases.

  • Comment number 9.

    I marvel when I hear Pentecostal Pastors ask their congregation for Tithe. Tithe is an Old Testament Law, and Numbers 18; 21 says that it is meant for the upkeep of Priests and Levites and work in the Tabernacle. These new churches do not believe in the work done in the Tabernacle and yet they pull Tithing out of the hat! Church members need to wisen up and "test all things" as the Bible tells us to. When we start doing that, things will change, and our churches will probably start doing more of the transformative job we expect of them.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hmm...this is quite interesting and although I do not like debating or arguing about God, Religion, Church and other believes, I have to contribute to this . I remember quite clear at the age of 9 before moving with my family from Kenya to Germany that our pastor was someone you looked up to. That is almost 16 years ago. He was a great man who cared about the society, the needy ones and always counted himself and his family last. Maybe it's due to my age that I misunderstood this or he was really real back in the days. However, after I came back for a visit 5 years later obviously a lot of things had changed, especially the pastor who just returned from the united states with his family(later found out they travel every three months). The small church that used to be quite decent, turned to be a big hall full with fancy new things. I saw him and his wife and kids. They stood out of the crowd with their fashionable clothes and jewelery, and not to forget the two silver and black Mercedes that were parked outside the church. One for him and the other one for his wife, because on that day they had visitors from the states. The fact that even the old house they used to live in, which was quite beautiful, became to small was another reason for me to start doubting. All in all, I just realized after having a few conversation with some people who have been going to church ever since, that the pastor became rich through preaching. This may sound offending, but remembering how my aunt used to expect us to give even the last shilling in our pocket to the collection, made me really angry. From that day I started doubting going to church(though other incidents contributed to that as well, but that's another topic) and told myself I can read the bible and I can preach myself. I can help myself. God gave me the ability and I will use it! I did a gap year in Ghana and sad enough, it was even worse over there. The same market women who struggle from Monday to Saturday with only a few Cedis in their pocket would go and give all that money to the collection, in the believe God will double that amount. Not knowing God has nothing to do with this and it's the pastor who is benefiting. I believe that keeps most of the people going though, thinking their money is used wisely...

  • Comment number 11.

    I come from Kenya and I find this article timely.In my country Kenya,our church ministers make it very difficult and at times impossible to go to church,as the way of soliciting for SADAKA,ie the church contribution is so tormenting and minddisturbing.
    An example is a case where a pastor dictates the congragation to flash out their contribution to the air so he can bless it.The pastor brings out his and shows it to everyone,and his is the highest denomination of the land...Kshs 1000!
    What is his message?CONTRIBUTE 1000!!How about those who have just afew coins?How will you come back to that church tomorrow,if you dont have kshs 1000?

    And where do they take the church money?_Buy public service vehicles(matatus) for their businesses,build themselves mansions and show off,buy latest cars on the road,join politics,fly in private jets!!etc,etc.
    we as christians feel taken at ransom by our church today,and for sure,it is too expensive for us to go to church in the contemporary kenya.

  • Comment number 12.

    i totally agree with comments from richardk, Julu Swen, Akpan and Johnsky2010. I wish there was a way to make the people realise that 90 percent of the pastors in Africa are in these positions to make themselves rich.

    They have copied so much from the western prosperity pastors and have taken advantage of their own people. As africans, we are born already believing in something and the poverty and lack of proper medical access causes people to easily believe the false teachings the pastors preach.

    Every Pastor claims to heal and claims every person will be rich but we must all saw a seed and that means MONEY! Money!. when healing or success does not come... the person´s faith is blamed as the reason why the healing and or success did not come. Often the people are told the blessing will come "soon" and until that "soon" comes, more and more money must be given. The pastors benefit from such teachings and they all know, they will never be held accountable for their misleading practices.

    my own father claimed to heal and claimed he had the power to prophesy in the life of people. He failed to heal my brother that died of cancer. We lived in the biggest house ever and we drove the best cars. We went to foreign schools whilst our housekeepers earned the worst pay, they tithed in his church, giving almost all they earned to have a better future for their children. His ministry grew to a mega church. I hope I can one day write and expose his practises.. but if only I had the talent to write.

    I hope him and all pastors like my father will be punished for their crime.

    I hope that the next HAVE YOUR SAY will feature ways in which to stop these propserity theologians from stealing the little that is left from people with little to no hope. and Yes it is expensive to go to church.

  • Comment number 13.

    My experience with Nigeria churches in the last 15 years has been that there are two broad categories of churches; the pentacostal (or 'the end of days', as I prefer to call them), and the conservative orthodox churches (these are the ones founded/established in the early 1900's)

    I have worshiped in the two over the years and recorgnize two fundamental differences when it comes to financial matters. 'End of days' churches are usually run by central strong figure (sometimes assisted by family members or a select few assistants)The drive for financial contributions from members is fierce and innovative. The usual maxim is, the more you bring the more your blessings. Accountability is almost non existent. ordinary members have little or no idea how the money is spent, but give anyway as they seek the bountiful blessings from God. Handsome rewards await the generous giver, they would often repeat

    The orthodox churches are run pretty much the same way the Europeans taught our fathers and their fathers before them. They are more democratic, with leaders chosen through elections and local churches run majorly through periodically elected non clergy (or elders). Financial records are, in the churches I have attended, open for scrutiny and debated at least once a year. Offerings are sometimes requested for specific projects and committees run them.

    You may think that the orthodox churches will have the most number of followers due to the relatively transparent ways they are being run. No. Attendance are declining because usually little or no sermons on prosperity is given. People are not promised 'handsome returns' for their money. And like the stock market boom and bust in Nigeria teaches us, people are more likely to rush to equities (churches) with the most prospect of spiritual returns with no questions asked.

  • Comment number 14.

    I CALLED THIS ANOTHER GENOCIDE OF THE MIND..THE RICH GET RICHER.SLAVERY OF IGNORANT HUMAN BEINGS.MOST PASTORS WEAR BULLET PROOF,HIRE BODYGUARDS ETC.AND THEY PREACH FEAR, ENEMIES WITCHCRAFT,ARMED ROBBERY, ACCIDENTS TO THEIR CONGREGATIONS,BUT THEY SEE THE FINEST DOCTORS IN THE WORLD.TRAVEL WITH ARMED POLICE MEN FOR PROTECTION ON THE HIGHWAY,CONVOY OF CARS.THEY CHOPPERS TO AVOID TRAFFIC.THEIR CHILDREN EDUCATION IN THE SCHOOL BEST AROUND THE WORLD.ALL THEY ASK FOR IS MONEY SO THAT THEY COULD LIVE A GOOD LIFE WHILE THEY SOW THESE FEARS INTO THEIR CONGREGATION.I BEG THE GOVERNMENT TO STOP OR LIMIT THEIR POWERS.THEY ARE DESTROYING MANY LIVES.WE SHOULD REMEMBER JIM JONES IN GUYANA.

  • Comment number 15.

    Abhorrent is a more fitting term to describe the way unsuspecting church members are hoodwinked to part with their much needed cash, that would otherwise contribute to alleviate household poverty, been channeled to ‘insatiable- offering plates’, which more often than not go to the pockets of pastors, who live in relative luxury while the rest of their congregation wallow in poverty. I have seen this happening in a lot of churches in Africa and else where in the world, albeit with a more subtle tactics to enchant money from congregations. In Sierra Leone, the usual catch phrase at collection time is ‘offering time, blessing time’ or put your money in the Bank of Jesus, where it will never rot’. One can only wonder where this Bank is located, as Jesus Himself has said ‘My Kingdom is not of this world because it is you’

  • Comment number 16.

    My Church (Highlife church) in Nigeria presents giving in a way that ensures that people know it is their responsibility to decide how much and if they give without feeling any guilt about their decision. I have never felt under pressure to give. I believe this is due to the fact that we practice from the stand point of grace in all we say and do. i hope this continues as i am well aware of the pressures that society can put on pastors to pressure their congregation! Pressures of Greed, Competition and over extension amongst others.

  • Comment number 17.

    GOD LOVES a CHEERFUL GIVER! TO ME THAT IMPLIES THAT ONE SHOULD GIVE WITHOUT FEELING JEALOUS OF WHAT HE/SHE HAS GIVEN TO GOD AND CHURCH AS A WHOLE! CHURCH GIVING CAN NEVER BE COMPARED TO EXTORTION OR CURRUPTION IN ANYWAY! FIRST AND FOREMOST ONE CARRIES HIM/HERSELF TO CHURCH AND OFFERS OR GIVES WILLINGLY ACCORDING TO HOW HE/SHE FEELS TOUCHED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT! BUT IF ONE DOES WITH THE SPIRIT OF INTERNAL GUILT OF WHAT HE/SHE HAS GIVEN, THEN THAT IS EVIL AND UNACCEPTABLE BEFORE GOD AND IN HIS CHURCH!

  • Comment number 18.

    African continent as a whole are now playing holier than thou and Money is oil lubricating all known faith. It´s a pity that while we lack schools, infrastructures at all levels; Mosques and Churches are now erected in every block of our towns and cities. Yet our spiritual and political leaders are not God fearing, infact Money is widely worship while they swindle ordinary folks of their votes and savings. Going to church means power game, not spiritual anymore!

  • Comment number 19.

    Christians have an obligation to pay their Tithes and offerings as required by our Holy Bible which is the Holy Word of God. If we do this , we would have fulfilled our Christian duties and if the funds are misappropriated by anyone in the Church , that is left with such person and God.
    Any other contribution in the Church , is voluntary. There should be no pressure about wether you give or do not give once you pay your thites and offerings accordingly. Your Thite is 10 percent of any income you make. Your offering is any amount you think you want to give to God for the operation of the church among other things. Good reading. Thanks

  • Comment number 20.

    The proliferation and commercialization of churches in Nigeria is unbelievable. Businesses are struggling for spaces with churches. It is very unfortunate that some pastors are taking advantage of their members in the name of properity. Some individuals who lacks patient are the greatest victims of these properity pastors. Some churches declare their earnings and expenditure while others don't. It is very important for churces to be transparent when it comes to church finances.

  • Comment number 21.

    Omorogbe(14) did mentioned Jim Jones in Guyana /Waco tragedy...which means that the JUDGEMENT OF GOD IS SIMPLE, AFTERMATH HELL FOLLOWED WITH HIM.THE REAL RE WARDER OF GOOD AND EVIL DEEDS IS GOD, SOMEDAY EVERY MAN/WOMAN WILL STAND BEFORE HIM TO GIVE AN ACCOUNT OF HIS/HER STEWARDSHIP.
    MATTER LIKE THIS ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE???DO YOUR PART LEAVE THE REST TO GOD.

  • Comment number 22.

    This is not only common in Africa but also worldwide. I'm a muslim but while i was still at home(Uganda), i used to visit both Mosques and churches with friends. I used to know some people that were really in poverty and sometimes lacking what to eat, but they offered highly to churches.Where does the money go? I don't know?
    I don't mean to be one sided but in mosques at home, it's your will and faith to offer or provide from the little you own (followiung the Quran law). Only that sometimes there are people who come truely or tricky with problems such as long journeys, lost properties and they need quick help to afford them. Reporting to the Immam(preacher), he will disseminate the message to the audience and they will collect money to raise the required amount. I think that's fair, and i wish all worshiping areas can do like that. The same thing is practiced in Thailand, but regulary i have never seen them collecting money or passing small boxes for money in mosques and churches. Yet i see the mosques and churches beautiful and renovated very often. "Where do they get the money?" i don't know.

  • Comment number 23.

    Religion is indeed the opium of the masses in Nigeria, Slogans abound in our churches such as "God loves a cheerful giver!" and "My God is not a God of poverty!". We, the congregration, mouth these slogans faithfully believing that our reward for giving will come in form of wealth , good health, momentous blessings and whatnot. The sad truth is that we are being milked like cows in the name of religion. The pastor, founder, general overseer or leader is often as rich as midas, draped in a designer suit he exhorts us to dig deeper into our pockets and come up with more cash. These churches now have branches in many western nation, in the Uk I attended one where i was told that the curch accepts all forms of payment.... Creditcards, debit cards and direct debit! Its a sorry state of affairs when we are being led by the nose in the name of religion. You dont need a middleman to worship God!

  • Comment number 24.

    I go to Church Every Sunday and have done so in the past 10 years or so. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, Sunday is my sabbath and it afford me opportunity to reconcile with my savior and appreciate His willing atonement. What need is a simply cloth and no money as I settle tithe with priesthood leaders.

  • Comment number 25.

    I honestly this not an issue to debate? Why? Giving is a free will thing. It has to do with what you believe and disbelieve. In Christian faith, it has to do with faith. It's both a old and new testament thing. If you read and believe the Bible, then no need to isolate one part of it and embrace another. The whole lot must be embraced and practised. No Pastor should and must not force nobody to give. And they should not take advantage of the vulnerability of people. And people shouldn't be gullible. People go to church to look for miracles. What goes round, comes round - which shouldn't necessarily be case.

  • Comment number 26.

    I am a pastor of the Independent Christian Church. The Church is non-denominational and not a part of WCC nor other religious unions. It is not a "Charismatic Church". The Church teaching is based on the Bible only. The Independent Christian Church has no government registration nor official buildings. Places of meetings of the Church are situated at homes of believers. The Church does not accept donations and believers don't pay a tithe. The Lord meets all financial and other needs of the Church.

    To pay tithes is not teaching of Christ. He never commanded to pay tithes.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Serge (Ukraine)

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm not a regular church goer, however to please my girlfriend I occasionally visit her church in Monrovia which looks like one of the few Pentecostal churches I have visited before. While I find the service there very moving, I however have problem with the way offerings are collected. When it's time for offering, everyone must leave his seat roll by roll to go to place his/her offering in a basket placed in full view of the rest of the congregation. To say this is embarrassing is an understatement, especially when you don't have anything to offer. I have the feeling that the system has been created in such a way everyone must offer something or face the prospect of been hugely embarrassed.

    Having said this, there are others who have different setups that make offering collection less obligatory or so to speak less embarrassing. I visited a Kingdom Hall before, and I was hugely impressed with what I saw. Not only they did not have any special time for collection of offerings, but also the "offering basket" itself was placed in such a position that no one would easily notice whether you have paid an offerings or not.

    Finally, I had the opportunity to visit a Nigerian church (a common name given to churches pastored by Nigerian nationals in Liberia)and what I saw there was not only embarrassing but also exploitative to a large extent. In single service there were 3 different types of offerings: 1)regular offerings, 2)church development offerings, and 3)offering for pastor appreciation/up keep. All three were collected at different times of service and in separate baskets.

    For now I'm just happy that I'm not one of those regular church goers even though I still have to paid for my girlfriend.

  • Comment number 28.

    IT IS PURE WICKEDNESS (TO HIMSELF) AND LACK OF UNDERSTANDING THAT WILL MAKE A MAN COMPLAIN ABOUT GIVING TO GOD.YOU ARE THE ONE WHO IS BLESSED WHEN YOU GIVE TO GOD.

    IF YOU CAN SPEND 15 TO 30 PERCENT OF YOUR EARNINGS ON TAX AND REFRAIN WHEN ITS TIME TO GIVE TO GOD,THEN SOMETHING IS WRONG!

    AND WHAT MORE,WHEN YOU GIVE TO GOD YOU ARE BLESSED AND YOU RECEIVE MORE.

    IF YOU PLANT WHAT YOU HAVE YOU WILL CERTAINLY GET A HARVEST BUT IF YOU DECIDE TO EAT ALL OF IT,SURE YOU WILL BE SATISFIED AT THE MOMENT,BUT BECAUSE OF YOUR FOOLISHNESS, THERE WILL BE NOTHING TO EAT TOMORROW.

  • Comment number 29.

    It is quiet embarrassing though, but the fact is that, we don't have to complain too much about it. it is something that is very glaring. Your pastor or whoever is responsible for the collection of the money cannot use coercion or force to do that no matter what. i know that the way they do it sometimes makes people to be ashamed and therefore, pay the money they are not willing to pay. you must note however, that God Himself does not approve of any money that does not come from your heart.
    It can be observed that the major aim of establishing churches nowadays, is to do business, which is not what God asked them to do. all i will add here is that, we should let God judge.
    Most of these things happening nowadays, does not happen in other religion. taking Islam for example, offertory according to my own understanding is a matter of personal conviction and its voluntary. Since most of our pastors have deviated from the norms thereby using the church as a market place, lets not be bitter about it, but let God intervene.......

  • Comment number 30.

    I discovered a religion that doesn't involve in such mess, no passing of plates, no tithe or compulsory contribution, Jehovah's witnesses, why not investigate by yourself at their khngdom halls (their place of worship) or visit their official web site at www.watchtower.org, one thing
    is certain there must be a true religion that teaches bible truth that God is making use of today, why not see for yourself!

  • Comment number 31.

    As a YAHWIST, i strongly believe in giving and will always give because it is commanded. But using this as a ploy to extort the gullibles is simply criminal. What goes on in the churches these days is that pastors use cheap preaching topics like 'PLANT A SEED' as a stunt to lure the members of their congregation into giving, some even advise their members to charge their pledges on their credit cards, this is shocking and disgraceful.

  • Comment number 32.

    I live in the US, the above topic is not only confined to Africa. Here, in the US,the same is very very common. You see most church goers are struggling to even put food on the table, but they are the most punctual in meeting their churches' financial demands. While the ministers or church leaders,(especially those mega church televangelists) are living lavishly in mansions,with multiple luxurious cars. Some even have private jet planes.
    These institutions are nothing but money making machines. The notion of " THE MORE YOU GIVE, THE MORE YOU GET" is a complete sham. No true religion will tell you that the poorest of the poor, should support the extravagant lifestyle of his/ her minister. That is why, for you to see three to four churches in a small neighborhood is not uncommon.
    And guess what, most of our folks from Africa, are now aggressively taking part in this SCHEME. It a very lucrative non profit business.

  • Comment number 33.

    toyotafan makes a good point.

    The health, wealth and prosperity message (HWPM), which is used to justify the extraordinary demands of some churches is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is however quite appealing to men who want to get rich quick. To mind mind this HWPM is rather like the betting shop. Most people who go in there are losers. Someone wins and now and again someone in one of these HWPM churches "makes good", giving the "loser" an excuse for pressing on. But it is all a deception. There is no gospel in the HWPM camp.

    The true gospel is about sin, the effects of sin, the consequences of sin, the remedy for sin, the cleansing from sin, the forgiveness of sin and the blood and the death of Christ, which makes it possible. The gospel is about getting right with God, and no amount fo money will do that for you. The Apostle tells us that you have not been redeemed by corruptible things like gold or silver, but by the precious blood of Christ.

  • Comment number 34.

    The level of affinity for money in Nigerian churches,in my opinion is profane.This profanity stems from the fact that people with little or nothing are cajoled into giving their 'widows might'-just to have it spent to create and sustain a life of affluence for the select elite.I personally feel that this so called churches have failed in their divine duty to their congregation;however,the congregation is not without blame-as long as you are not minor or have some kind of mental impairment,you are expected to make rational decision;hence, the biggest sin here is people not applying their faculties.Greed pervades all strata of the church that's why money is the catalyst that sets things in motion.Testament to this is the fact that teachings on love,care,honesty,which are championed in the church does not generate the same blind response from the member of the congregations;instead vices of tribal prejudice,corruption are rife in the church.My take on it is,yes the pastors and the leaders of the church are sucking the congregation dry,the congregation should know better.The church should trace its step back to how the churches of old operated;money and provisions from the congregation was key to its operations-they used the money to fend for the needy and less privileged;as for the pastors,they should ask themselves why Jesus chose a Donkey instead of a stallion?

  • Comment number 35.

    I've seen the both churches in America and in Ghana. I think the psych game in Ghana is much worse than it is in America. Clearly many of these churches are lying to the people and deceiving them in some form of false worship. Making them feel guilty for not giving money to the church or pastors personally. The pretense of speaking in tongues is outrageous! "Bah bah bah bah bah" That's speaking in tongues? Please. There was a purpose for speaking in tongues. It wasn't used fore entertainment. If people would just read their bibles and like the Boreans did and decern what is false and what is truth, then those will be the ones God will guide. God doesn't need any human's money. And definitely doesn't need any money to run his people. God can do whatever he wants if you truly believe that. Why would he really need your money? Especially when you are poor.
    I like the example Jesus gave about the old poor lady that gave the two Drakma coins. He didn't mention anything about "Tithing". She gave from the heart not to meet a Tithing Quota. In comparison many will be enslaved to false teaching but what i see in Ghana from churches that i have seen goes beyond entertainment, its mental and psychological slavery! Paying pastors for consultations and prayers. Please! Don't get me started cause there's more...

  • Comment number 36.

    As a British born Nigeria of Christian faith that has relocated from the UK to Nigeria I'm increasingly becoming a disillusion churchgoer simply due to the overwhelming focus on "prosperity" preaching with very little social justice preaching.
    While in the UK I belonged to several Baptist churches and all of these churches not only were involved in tackling injustices in society but the also made their church accounts public to the congregation.
    None of the Pentecostal churches I've been to in Nigeria have been able to let me see their accounts and yet they always want me to give money to what simply to me seems to be for keeping the pastor and his family in luxury.
    Also being a community development worker I never wear a suit but I’m constantly being told that to be a church leader or worker you must dress to impress kitted up in a suit and tie in boiling hot Lagos.
    A Nigerian cynic once said that if Jesus tried to get into a present day Nigerian Pentecostal church he wouldn’t be allowed in due to his lack of dress sense. Now I now what that cynic meant.

  • Comment number 37.

    Where do people hold this idea: Church should be the poorest organisation on earth, with pastors (shabbily dressed, leaving in council flats, or housing association) and church leaders or members having the least and always going round asking as beggers in the community or the government to help fund their activities or meet ends. Why do people get upset seeing a pastor driving a Mercedes and living in a nice house, and at a the same time they believe it's ok for a member of government or an MP to enjoy all this. Aren't they both working for a non-profit organisation? I am not denying there are churches outside there financially squeezing their members. But I think too often people have focussed on the negative sides of churches without taking their time to assess and evaluate our much church has contributed in the community. I have seen marriages restored, youngsters delivered from drug addiction and changing bad behaviour, depressed peoples finding hope, physical and mental healing and above all faith making a huge difference. All this thanks to Church....now you can't tell me this is less important than money you may spend in church.
    If you think church is all about money money money, then you haven't got it right.

  • Comment number 38.

    Christian generosity is a solid biblical principle, but many of the churches in Nigeria use tactics that smack of guilt and shame to motivate giving. If that doesn't work they resort to "seed faith" manipulation, the concept that if I give that obligates God to give to me. Christians should give, we should be the most radically generous people on the planet, but we should give because we want to, because we love God, and we love people.

  • Comment number 39.

    A great many of the churches in Africa are misleading the poor, often ignorant, ill-informed and uneducated poor Christians and condemning them into a vicious cycle of poverty and deprivation. I was in a church before where the Pastor was asking for a specific percentage of one's income to be given to the Church and shamelessly making references to the Bible while he was doing so. I know a number of people who have refrained from going to church because of the 'humiliation' of being able to afford the 'offerings'. In addition, I have seen people being blackmailed to stand up and go to the front of the church in order to place their 'offerings'. This was just one of many situations that I witnessed. You could almost say some of these Churches in these 'ungodly acts' are committing crimes against their own believers. One common theme among all these places was no accountability for how the money was spent and a reverend belief in what the church leaders were saying being taken as 'gospel truth'. In some cases, the Pastors were living in mansions and driving the most expensive vehicles - all these unquestioned by their congregations. Unfortunately, this exploitation is happening far too often. As to what can be done to stop this - education! education! education! 'Religion can be a good thing but should only be taken in moderation'.

  • Comment number 40.

    The topic of Christian giving and the abuse of it is a shaky ground. While it is true that making generalised statement is wrong one can still notice that we need a change in our posture as Christians (and preachers) to Church donations. The issue goes well beyond mere giving to more fundamental things. And it's not only in Churches where there's a central human figure running the show, but also in the so called Orthodox assemblies and I have been to quite some. Giving is Biblical but the best way for heresy to thrive in the Church is to give undue attention to a particular component of the Word of God and downplay the rest. As believers we have the duty to allow the Word of God be our guidance and not the greed of any preacher (not all men of God are) however spiritual it may appear. Take the issue of tithe, one begins to wonder if the near-silence of the New Testament on the matter shouldn't be instructive enough. And why should it be the only article of the Old Law that survived the sacrifice of Christ. One could say tithe predates the giving of Mosaic law, but so does circumcision. Also the early Christians gave differently, and not tithe. If the levitical priestly office that accepted tithe was scrapped by the death of Christ, how come we still have an office in place for the receipt of the same in our days? It will be interesting to know how tithing was again resurrected especially for us 'gentile' Christians (I like to know).
    I believe we owe it to our generation and the one to come and to the Spirit of Christ to correctly represent God. He sure isn't a God that robs the poor to make the rich get richer. I think we should concentrate our resources (for they are finite) on giving help to those around us that truly need it, and also stop depending on the payment of tithe as an alternative source of righteousness. You would be surprised how much of the nature of Christ you would have shown by attending to these weightier matters of the law:justice, mercy and faithfulness.

  • Comment number 41.

    I grieve that such greed should taint the ministry of any church of Jesus. I have seen it here in the USA as well. Pastors are meant to be members of and servants to the Body of Christ, to humbly lead, teach, and encourage their brothers and sisters of the church, not to behave as kings or dictators. Furthermore, tithes and offerings should be given as the Holy Spirit moves one's heart to give, not as an obligation for membership. I rejoice that my pastor refuses to be directly involved in the church finances, to avoid temptation and any appearance of evil greed. A joint committee of laymen and elders oversees collection and use of any money, with input from the people of the church.

  • Comment number 42.

    The pastors of many West African (an area I have some knowledge of) churches or churches with West African congregations have a good thing going for them. They are basically business persons or 419ers in the name of the Lord. They aren't accountable to anybody least of all their congregations. any demand for accountability is met with Ps105:15 (Touch ye not the Lord's anointed. Do my prophets no harm)

    In the UK the Charity Commission helps them to get away with it by 'taking into account culture'. A thief is a thief in any culture! Fraud is fraud! Just because a person can get away with murder in his/her country of origin doesn't mean he/she should get away with it in the UK.

    The relationship between them and their congregations is a bit like the relationship between an abusive and abused spouse ('S/he love me. S/he really does. It for my own good. You just don't understand him/her...) or a football club and its fans. I suppose it's difficult to hold back when you've got willing victims.

    They simply reflect the wider West African societies they exist in. That's why a person can give a 'testimony' of God's blessing because he won a contract where he gave a 20% kickback.

    I'd better stop before I really get into rant mode.

  • Comment number 43.

    For sure even in the UK you do feel a little rattled when the bag comes around to place your money in. I don't like it when charity workers rattle tins in front of my face and I don't like it in a church either. I'm sure Jesus would not have approved either. You give what you can, when you can....and you have to do it in that spirit. However if you go to Church regularly you do get to know who sits next to you and putting in loose change when they are putting in notes can be extremely uncomfortable. I can imagine in Africa this is ten times worse and the opportunities for corruption are huge....

  • Comment number 44.

    GOD HELP US ALL FROM THESE THIEVING ANIMALS

  • Comment number 45.

    In africa,many of our pastors/ministers are money centered preachers based on my experience with them and now i live in asia and the pastors/ministers in asia are not money centered but they just preach JESUS to the people and hardly will they preach about money onlike our african pastors that always preach money and end up becoming rich pastors with a lot of money,cars & wealth while their congregations have financial problems and they dont stop asking for money and even their quest ministers that come to preach in the church also ask for money from the congregations.No wonder the bible says judgement will begin from the house of God.What we need to hear is about JESUS and what his done for us and nothing else and all other things shall be added unto us.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    A lot of church goers believe that by giving money they will gain access to heaven and its blessings. FALSE !!! Acceptance to heaven and its riches is only by believing in Jesus Christ and living a holy life. For FALSE PROPHETS who promise God's blessing to sinners who give money in their churches you will receieve your judgement now and in Hell. The Bible say "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound" God forbid. If you leave yourself open to abuse by these FALSE PROPHETS you have yourself to blame. The Bible is available for all read and understand spend time on reading the Bible and you will recognise these false prophets a mile off. Use your money wisely and to the glory of God.

 

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