As I’ve stated before, I don’t attend church very often – for obvious reasons – but when I do I usually find a way to tune out and don’t pay much attention to what’s being said. I’m just not interested in being feed the same old song and dance (probably not the best euphemism to use since Baptists don’t “dance”). A few weeks ago, however, I attended my in-law’s church for a special occasion and was with my wife’s family so I didn’t have any recourse to use to help me tune out (e.g., my iPhone). I’m kind of glad I couldn’t tune out this time though because it gave birth to this article. Perhaps I should attend and pay attention more often so that I have an easier time coming up with article ideas. Almost everything that came out of his mouth was so full of fluff and deception I could spend a year writing about just this one sermon (I won’t do that so don’t worry).
Anyway, it just so happened that his message contained 3 points regarding the ministry of the pastor and you’ll never guess what his first point (and the point that he took up the most time with) was… Any guesses??? If you guessed money and tithing you win the grand prize (if you guessed money and tithing because of the title then you cheated so no prize for you :-))
I’m not going to bore you with all the typical dogma and rhetoric as you can probably guess that most of what he said is just typical tithing stuff… tithe 10% minimum, tithe from the gross so that God gets the “first fruits”, tithe over and above for “greater blessings”, yada, yada, yada. But then he actually surprised me and his third sub-point under that first point was something I hadn’t heard before. It took this issue of giving to the church to a whole new low. When I thought that this tithing message couldn’t get any more manipulative or abusive you’ll never guess what came out of his mouth… OK go read the title again… I’ll wait. Back? You got it – the church should pay the pastor DOUBLE!!! He had my full attention at that point!
After a few minutes of puffing out his chest and patting himself on the back for “never accepting a pastorate position before looking at the salary because I want to go where God is leading me not where the money leading me” he boldly declared that the local church is instructed to decide on the pastor’s salary and then double it – he asked us to turn to I Timothy 5:17-18 to justify this divine revelation. Allow me to quote it for you (he was using the KJV by the way, just in case you needed me to remind you of that): 17 “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. (i.e., “they who labour in the word and doctrine = the pastor – his point just prior to that was that the senior pastor is responsible solely for preaching – laboring in word and doctrine get it?) 18 “For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The Labourer is worthy of his reward.”
So if you’ve spent more than 3 seconds on this site you know I don’t buy into the tithing thing let alone paying the pastor double his salary. So how exactly did this pastor twist the scriptures to justify this? He very quickly had us turn to Leviticus 27:30 where it talks about the Mosaic law of tithing, then without further explanation had us turn back to I Timothy and said “see, we should be tithing and we should be using those tithes to pay the pastor double his salary” (I’m paraphrasing that last quote). I was like huh? I missed the connection somehow. I probably got distracted because of the roar of “Amens” from the congregation.
No, this was nothing more than blantant manipulation, appeals to emotion (his point after that was how weary he and other pastors are because of the preaching and constant demands of the ministry) and twisting of scripture to fit his agenda. Unfortunately there are a few translations that do insert “double financial compensation” (or something similar) into I Timothy 5:17, but that’s far from what it’s talking about. This is simply an instruction from Paul to remind Timothy and the young church leaders of his day to not feel guilty for accepting compensation, praise, support, appreciation, “honour”, etc. for their hard work and in fact they deserve (not should be getting, but deserve) double because of their hard work. Nothing more. This isn’t a command to “pay the pastor double income” or anything of the sort.
And the irony is that this wasn’t even an IFB church! It was a Southern Baptist church and not one that would even be on the radar of the “bad apple” and “on the fringe” variety that MusicMan was eluding too.
Another person commented to defend her husband who is an IFB pastor and say that he doesn’t teach tithing the way I’ve written about it. I’m sure that the pastors wife of this church I recently attended would have said the same thing, but here we are talking about it. And that’s the problem. It’s so subtle that most people don’t pick up on it. It’s like mixing a little drop of poison in the brownie mix. The brownies are mixed and baked and presented to us and we don’t detect the poison until its too late.
Look, I’m nothing but sympathetic to the hard work and demands of being in the ministry and I’m not against compensating the pastor or giving money to the church. As a matter of fact I’m all for it (as surprising as that may seem to some). I even believe that the NT calls us to give free will offerings, some of which should be used to compensate the time and tremendous effort that the pastors and church leaders sacrifice for the ministry of Christ. What I HATE and DESPISE are these preachers who use guilt, shame, psychological manipulation tactics and the twisting of scripture to trick their congregation into feeling obligated to give more money. These are tactics that we’ve come to expect from corporations trying to get us to buy the latest gadget or “must-have-item”. It shouldn’t be coming from the pulpit!!! It’s pure mind control and brainwashing plain and simple and is so outrageous to me that I say the pastor who employs these tactics should be disqualified. It’s careless, reckless, unethical and deceptive.