Hat in Hand vs. Checkbook in Hand
American evangelical churches have no power and little influence because they are beggars. No one in a position of authority pays a great deal of attention to organizations that have so little discipline over their own members that they must go outside the local membership to beg for money. The identifying mark of failure in life is beggary. The modern evangelical pastor is like Oliver Twist, standing in front of Mr. Bumble, empty bowl in hand: “Please, sir, may I have some more?”
Let us compare a local church’s influence with that of the Rockefeller Foundation. Who pays attention locally to the suggestions of local churches? Hardly anyone. Who pays attention locally to the suggestions of the Rockefeller Foundation? Lots of dedicated people do, people who want only to serve the public (at $75,000 a year plus expenses). They sit up and take notice. The Rockefeller Foundation–actually, there are several Rockefeller Foundations–does not come to beg. It comes to write large checks. This makes all the difference.
A Church that writes large checks gets the ear of the great and powerful. Regardless of how they may despise God personally, most are practical men of the world, and are willing to set aside their enmity to get their hands on the money.
He who pays the piper calls the tune. The reason why almost no one plays tunes that the Church wants to hear is that the Church refuses to pay the highly competitive pipers of this world. It decries the lack of accountability of other ministries, yet it refuses to insist on accountability from its own members. “We’re under grace, not law!” shout the antinomian pastors of many ecclesiastical traditions. “Amen to that!” respond the members of these congregations, putting away their checkbooks and pulling out their lonely $20 bills for this week’s “sacrificial” family offering. Tithing is relegated to an Old Covenant that was run by a harsh and demanding God. So the Church begs. It pleads. It asks “pretty please.” And God’s people cheer, Bronx fashion.
Now, we all know how the Church can turn herself around from powerless begging, to powerful commanding…
If local congregations want more income, here is a sure-fire way to get it:
- Require every voting member to tithe: no tithe-no vote.
- Have deacons police the voting members’ income, just as the IRS polices it. Deacons represent an institution with greater covenantal authority than the State lawfully possesses.
- Organize evangelism programs that bring more people into the congregation.
- Challenge newcomers and non-voting members with a vision of victory that calls forth great dedication.
- Provide motivation for people to make more money by getting more education and better jobs.
- Show people ways to save 10% of their income each payday.
- Preach on the moral obligation to get out of debt.
- Start paying off the church’s mortgage as fast as possible to set a good example.
- Start allocating a tithe from the church’s budget to help the poor.
- Stop preaching that Christianity is the religion of losers until the day Christ returns bodily.
But this program is unacceptable to churches. It is based too heavily on discipline, personal responsibility, thrift, and long-term planning. This is not the beggar’s way.
Christian failure is nauseating, for those – including God – who expects far better.
The mark of this Melchizedekal priesthood is its legal right to the tithe: “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all” (Heb. 7:1-2a). He gave Abraham bread and wine. He blessed him. Then he accepted Abraham’s tithe. He did not have to beg Abraham in order to receive what was lawfully his. Hebrews argues that Jesus Christ is the true Melchizedek. Jesus Christ does not beg. Why, then, do His representatives beg? Why have they become full-time beggars?
Today, pastors beg for “free will offerings.” The Church of Jesus Christ does not need free will offerings. It needs predestinated tithing. Royal priests should not beg.
Beggars Can’t Be Rulers
In our day, the Church of Jesus Christ has been reduced to begging. It is a pathetic sight to see. It begs because its leaders, deep down in their souls, despise God’s law. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the moral requirement before God for every voting member of the congregation to tithe ten percent of his income to the local church? For that matter, when was the first time?
Actual Christians, who wish to Actually obey God, will have to set up Actual churches who teach Actual obedience to the congregation – and so rightfully demand the tithe.
Gary North recommends starting up in the boondocks – the Sam Walton strategy. It also works well in guerrilla warfare – and make no mistake about it, we are in a major spiritual/intellectual war against an enemy that has all the advantages, including control of the State and the Schools and the Media and the Cities.
If you fear the power of men, well, I’m sure you can find out how to beg for terms, before the face of the laughing Establishment. If you fear God rather than men, but actually want to win — and not destroy yourself in some moronic kamikaze move — then you are going to have to start small, in flyover country (…or the ghettos…) and build from there.