“She changed church because giving was low in her former church and the church leadership asked everybody to bring their W2 forms. So if the amount on the W2 does not match the total giving each member is given a month to pay up the balance”. I sat speechless listening to the pastor standing in front of us in training as he went on and on with horrible stories of people searching for answers to a zillion questions as to where the church is heading to with spurious dogma on money.
I drove home that day playing back countless number of lengthy phone calls and emails I had answered and replied from people who asked why what they see and hear in church these days looks like everything but the ‘ekklesia’ in the new testament. Like waves against the sea cliff, calls from colleagues came in too. They lament on how their superiors who once stood for integrity and earnestness all of a sudden begin to bow to values violation and employing scriptures and intimidation to shut and keep people in perpetual bondage. Others yelled out their disgust on how their mentors invest more in on-camera talent display above off-camera impact on souls and people who really need Jesus.
In addition, I heard of a man, I dear to mention many families I know of, who left church and decided he is done with going to church because of terrible lies, insincerity and manipulation that seems to take a new turn for the worse anytime he shows up. An alarm went off in my head when I heard that. I spent the next minutes wondering why it did. It took me days to figure that out but it further broke me down when I did. It did break my heart because PEOPLE ARE LOSING TRUST IN THE CHURCH!!
Of recent, I took time to think about a recent ‘mini war of words’ on my facebook page between an old college mate and a friend about a status update that bothered on a topic on church and Christianity. One thing was clear to me, the old college mate was really not happy about current church circumstances. Both of them had their views for and against the topic so I did not comment on it. I figured out that they have experiences that have formed their belief and its system. I think we should respect people who voice out what they see or take decisions based on discovery or conclusions and with love try to help them see the facts and bring them back on track in the race to heaven instead of condemning or excommunicating them from local assemblies or declaring them enemy of the state.
I really do wish ministers of the gospel and leaders always remember how important trust is to ministerial effectiveness. Besides “anointing”, eloquence, giftedness, management and growth strategies, trust is foundational for effectiveness and efficiency in helping the lost come to Christ and helping the saved stay and grow in Christ.
I should like to mention, swiftly, that the “early church” in Acts of the Apostles was not a perfect church! There was Ananias and Sapphira;
“ Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.”
Acts 4:32-5:1-5. NKJV
The subject of distrust is seen in a squabble over division of food, funds and a supply is recorded:
“Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.”
Acts 6:1 NKJV
But here is the difference; the disciple addressed the issues of distrust promptly by engendering a system of integrity and they did so by choosing men of integrity to serve:
“Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.”
Every trust issue boils down, eventually, to a question of integrity. It is amazing how we address the ever increasing subject of distrust in the church today. Threats and manipulations would not last long. They will only make things worse and send more people away from the glorious gospel of Christ. Restoring integrity is the way out.
In conclusion, I like to bring to picture what happens when you employ the godly and proper way of handling distrust in the church:
“Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
Acts 6:7 NKJV
The church will grow if it is trusted.
The church can be trusted if integrity is employed.