My brother-in-law (I’ll refer to him as Jim) attended an Episcopal church in Western New York (emphasis on ‘attended’ – past tense).
A few weeks back he was pulled aside after services by his pastor. He was told they needed to chat.
The pastor explained that he noticed Jim was only attending services every other week and asked why. Jim explained that he was splitting time between two parishes. The Episcopal parish was his wife’s old parish and a 45 minute drive away, so they decided to attend some years back to join the Wesleyan church closer to home. He gave the pastor several reasons for this.
Evidently, this arrangement wasn’t satisfactory in the eyes of the pastor.
He explained to Jim that the issue of splitting time wasn’t really the issue, and that it was more an issue of finances. He said that people worship where they will, but if his parish let everyone attend part time, it would render the parish “financially nonviable.” With that, he simply told Jim he would need to choose a parish.
Jim was perplexed.
After all, his wife and he collectively were parishioners for over twenty years! He performed free electrical work at the pastor’s home, volunteered, attended whenever he could, contributed to collection, brought in new parishioners, etc.
Not good enough.
Jim was forced to choose, and given gas prices, the drive, the commitment, and the cavalier attitude of this pastor, he chose to go.
When I heard this, I was overcome with laughter. This scenario represents everything that is wrong with religion.
Since when is there a price on God? Who made the rule that there is a financial threshold for worship. When does the ‘bottom line’ surpass the right of spiritual salvation and inner peace with your God – whoever that God is?
Anyone who has read my posts or other works knows I’m no fan of the Catholic Church, but not once have I heard of anyone being asked to leave a parish based on the weight of the collection plate.
This built-in, seldom talked about, embedded hypocrisy of mega-churches and those who aspire to be mega-churches, is the black fly in the spiritual wine. Christians nowadays aren’t concerned with the savior, or everlasting life, they worry about raising funds for the new ‘compund gym/daycare facility.’ They worry about image. They need to make sure there is a Starbucks in the church lobby, and valet parking during service. They worry about the Jones’…
When are people going to wake up?
The modern American Christian ideal is a scam, complete with guys like Creflo Dollar and Benny Hinn, who rank in my eyes as some of the greatest con-men of all time. Jim’s pastor is a wanna-be, but he understands the game. There is power in numbers, and greater numbers mean more money, and thus greater power.
Someone should ask Jim’s old pastor – did Jesus preach in a stone and marble tower, or did he preach to the people where they lived and chose to listen to his word?
I wonder what his answer would be?
Read a related story here…