Pastor John Gray’s recent move to allow members of his church to take cash from the offering baskets has stirred discussion, with some applauding him for helping those in need and others expressing caution.
Praising Gray, Bishop Alphonza Gadsden of Cummins Memorial Theological Seminary in Summerville, South Carolina, told The Christian Post on Friday that he believes the church should be doing more to help the needy.
“Having felt as if he is led by the Spirit of God to do this then I think it’s a great gesture,” Gadsden commented. “I believe that the church needs to play a more active role within the community and if it means helping those who are indigent and don’t have a means of support then by all means the church should be able to do that.”
In his sermon on Sunday, Gray, who leads Relentless Church in South Carolina, reminded his congregation that “the role of the church … is not only to receive from the people of God but to meet the needs of the people of God.” He then invited members of his church in need to help themselves to only what they need from the cash offerings donated that day.
“For too long people have stood in a pulpit and told you to give, give, give. Very rarely have I seen churches stop and said ‘leave the baskets out, let the people get what they need.’ We’ve got too many pulpit pimps who want to get fat off people but don’t want to meet the needs of the poor people. And Jesus said that’s who you supposed to be taking care of. We got widows, we got orphans, we’ve got single moms in here. We might not be able to do everything but we can do something. I wish we could do more but it’s the best we can do right now,” Gray said.
While admitting that the church needs money to operate and not every church can afford to help members and their community in all the ways that they would like, Gadsden agrees with Gray that too many churches have abandoned the call to serve those in need.
“I realize that the church needs finances to operate but I say this with much reservation because I don’t think that churches are designed to build up great bank accounts and build financial empires. What I believe God intends for us to do as a church is not to build empires but to meet the needs of God’s people,” he said. “Of late, I think the church has relinquished that role to the government or the state and what have you and I believe that we as part of the church should be helping to meet the needs of the people.”
Zachary Groff, director of advancement and admissions at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in South Carolina, also praised Gray’s gesture but cautioned against “reckless” administration of assistance to the needy.
“Here at Greenville Seminary and in the Presbyterian and Reformed theological tradition, we have a very high regard for the diaconal function of the church. We take very seriously the example set by the Apostolic church in caring for widows and orphans and those in need both within the community of faith, but also outside of the church, in our local communities. And so I can applaud the intentions behind what Mr. Gray has done in terms of showing in a very emotionally moving picture of how the church helps those in need,” Groff said.
He noted that while he did not know much about Gray or his ministry he would not have advised allowing people to just take money from the offering baskets.
“I would seriously caution against doing that kind of distribution method in the church,” he said.
“It looks like a free for all, and I really think that the example we’re given in the New Testament and even in the Old Testament in terms of the administration of funds and caring for the flock and those in need is one of orderliness and accountability and responsibility. I don’t see any of that in what Mr. Gray has done.
“Now there might have been some things behind the scenes where leaders in his church had things planned and knew this was coming but on the face of it, it looks like a pretty reckless move in Relentless Church.”
Click here to read more.
Source: Christian Post