There have been rumors for years that a local “church” requires a $10,000 “down payment” to be a member there. I have hoped that was just a malicious rumor, but I am hearing more and more about churches that require more than 10% of a person’s wages to be in membership. I live on subsidy because I have so many health problems, and so would not be able to attend any church that required more than a stipend for their services. Besides, one’s spiritual nourishment should not cost in dollars and cents. Time, prayer, preparing meals for the needy, sewing, any of those things that one can “do” should be sufficient for one’s offering.
In fact, it distresses me to hear ministries anywhere require more than a “love offering” within the Christian church. I have attended Buddhist and Native American gatherings where the only thing asked of me were things I could do to pitch in and help. One elder of a tribe where I was blessed to be a part of the ceremony in fact said, “Spirituality should never cost money, as money has nothing to do with the realm of Spirit.” I agree. That does not mean I will not give of funds when I have them, we live in a world where the supplies to hold a gathering cost in dollars, so I will help where I can.
I personally could not and would not withhold prayers for healing or any other blessing because I was not paid in dollars. That would go against everything I stand for. In fact, there is something about such requirement that feels “dirty” to me. Most of the churches where I have been involved at more than just an attendance level, have in fact considered that a matter between the believer and God. Indeed, though I do not necessarily agree with the practice, there are churches that are in the habit of passing the basket around more than once during the service. There is the offertory, where you give what you and God have worked out that you can give to the church, and then there are other offerings that go to other ministries the church has committed itself to help.
What I feel most worried about, is that those who need or just plain want spiritual encouragement, but are not yet committed to a church, will simply turn away from God’s ever loving kindness because of the greed of those who feel their services cannot be rendered without due recognition in the form of money. Please do not make God’s love only something the monetarily wealthy can afford. To do so makes The Master out to be a liar, for those most weary cannot come to The Father for rest.