In western church culture, particularly in the US, the trend has been growing for over the last couple of decades for churches to use their collection money to expand and grow to a larger size. Though I ask of you to tell your churches to stop spending money on bigger buildings, it goes far beyond that. It’s also to tell them to stop spending on all the colorful bright lights, loud sound systems, fancy camera equipment and expensive musical instruments. If you didn’t read my first two sentences of this post, you’d think I was talking about a rock concert. But there’s an important lesson behind the title of this message, and it’s the issue of what God wants His collection money spent on. I’m going to show you what scripture seems to indicate to us.
The needs of others in the church
First, let’s observe the example of the first people converted to Christianity in Acts 2. After heeding the command of Apostle Peter to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, they did something really remarkable. In verse 45 it states, “45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” Now I know it doesn’t quite state they had an official local body of Christ set up with an overseer, deacons, and etc, but, they were essentially the first people assembling as Christians. So I would suggest to you in their example, one thing God wants His collection money spent on, is the needs of our fellow members of the Body of Christ. Maybe obviously some members of local assemblies have more financial means to take care of their needs more than others, but perhaps some of the collection money can be used you on the neediest within the assembly.
Payment to the leaders in the church
1 Timothy 5:17-18 it states, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” The Greek Words for honor and wages both mention payment in their meaning. While some leaders in the church unfortunately abuse this teaching with receiving excessive wealth from their churches, it’s important for those who preach and teach the Word to be given payment for fulfilling this duty that needs to be done by someone within our assemblies. But let’s always remember to take very special note of these two verses about the overseer of a church. 1 Timothy 3:2 states, “2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. Titus 1:7 states, “7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,”
Money for the poor
1 Corinthians 16:1-3 states, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 3 When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem;” These verses are where our faith typically derives the reasoning for collection when the body of Christ assembles together. It was something the Corinth church did, the churches in Galatia did, and perhaps presumably other churches as well. But there’s something very interesting about the Greek word that translates to collection.
The word is logeia, and according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon it means, “a collection, of money gathered for the relief of the poor”. Maybe instead of all the video screens, cool special effects, and etc. you may see in mostly larger churches, that money can be given to help the homeless, or those on welfare or food stamps. What a noble message that would send to the world about the Christian church, if we used God’s money the way He wanted us to. Perhaps that would inspire unbelievers to become saved more than the biggest rock concert could any day.
Peace to all those who are in Christ