Saturday, December 19, 2009

Preface To My Latest Book Titled YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MONEY

This is probably the first ever attempt by a local pastor to discuss the issue of God and money. I say this because I have never heard, much less read, anything on the subject in my many years of involvement in the church. I have heard many sermons and pleas for financial support for all kinds of needs over the years, but never a sermon on stewardship of money and material possessions.

I have probably heard several sermons on honouring God with our wealth, but these have invariably been in relation to giving for some cause. I have also heard perhaps several sermons on stewardship, but again, these have been in relation to giving – never with respect to saving and investing to make more money and thereby increase one’s capacity and ability to give more.

I find it amazing that today, the world revolves around money; it takes money to preach and propagate the Gospel around the world; it takes money to send missionaries and evangelists; it takes money to develop projects; it takes money to organize and attend conferences; not to mention payment of wages for pastors and other church worker; yet, we hear so little about money in the church.

Money as a subject seems like a taboo in the church. People love it and work hard for it, but nobody wants to talk about it in church. It is probably because of this that the subject is not discussed at home either. For some reason, Christians feel that we should not talk openly about money. Some may even consider it a sin to talk about money in church or at home.

Yet, financial problems are at the core of the many problems Christians face as individuals and families on a daily basis. Many Christian families break up because of financial problems. The flip side is probably also true: Many Christians turn their backs on God in pursuit of material possessions. They find it untenable serving two masters. Sadly, they turn to money and turn away from God.

I worked in several organizations before I became self-employed. I remember that we used to receive many letters from churches asking for financial assistance for projects, crusades and meetings. The organizations helped in some instances, but generally, the managers would be so fed up with such requests that they would throw the letters into the bins without reading the contents. You know why they did that? Because they knew it was another request for financial assistance. As a Christian, I felt embarrassed many times, because I am part of a church that says that God owns the silver and gold of the earth, then we turn around and beg from the world to finance His work. The church has misrepresented God to the world in the very important area of finances.

I believe that it is about time the church turns around and starts giving to the Government and the rest of the community. The church must be a blessing, not a curse; it must be an asset, not a liability. We are connected to the source, so we should draw out of Him and begin to bless the world. It makes absolutely no sense to worldly people when we tell them the God we serve owns everything, then we turn around and beg and borrow to finance His work. But imagine if the church started giving to development projects. It would completely turn the prevailing mindset on its head. And I believe many people would surrender to the Lord. They would want to be a part of a church that is prospering. As it is, people of the world do not want to darken the doors of churches because we portray a poor church, and therefore a poor God.

I accept that the absence of preaching and teaching on financial matters may be due to genuine oversight on the part of church leaders. There are so many other more important topics to preach and instruct people about than money. But, if what Pastor Joseph Kingal says in the foreword that there are more than 2,300 verses in the Bible concerning money, wealth and material possessions is true, how can the church bypass the subject? Why did the Lord Jesus Christ use a lot of financial and business terms in His parables? If God talked a lot about these matters in His Word, the subject must be important.

I suspect that pastors are reluctant to talk about these matters for fear that they might encourage people to go searching for these things at the expense of their souls.
I also suspect a feeling of uneasiness because money is referred to by the Bible as “filthy lucre” and the love for it is “the root of all evil”. Pastors feel uncomfortable talking about something the Bible calls “filthy” or “dirty”. They jump at the opportunity to handle it, but they don’t want to teach the people about how to make more of it.

I am not blaming anyone here. I realize that many pastors probably want to teach their congregation about money, but they lack confidence because they do not have personal experience in working for salaries or starting and running businesses. They feel that because they have not dealt with financial matters, run businesses and invested, or received training in that area, they are not qualified to talk about it. “You can only lead others as far as you have gone yourself,” they think.

This is unfortunate, because in reality, apart from their relationship with God, financial matters are probably the next most important subject for Christians. I don’t think I would be wrong if I said that more than 90% of peoples’ time and mental effort is taken up by financial issues on a day-to-day basis. This applies to both Christians and the heathen.
I am aware that many pastors, leaders and Christians have been reading books written by international evangelists, world-renowned pastors and Christian leaders. This is fine.
But this book is based on a developing country perspective, in particular, a Papua New Guinea perspective. In Chapter 6 of the book I attempt to explain why I think believers in Papua New Guinea are well-positioned to become prosperous for God’s glory and for the extension of His kingdom both within the country and elsewhere in the world. I have heard of prophesies that Papua New Guinea will one day finance the preaching of the Gospel. I believe this. But it will not happen until Christians rise up, get their minds renewed, and take possession of what is rightfully theirs.

I hope that readers will find this book inspirational. I also hope that the book generates interest in the subject of financial management and investing (or stewardship) within church circles.

In light of the developments that are taking place with respect to mineral, oil, gas, forestry, fisheries, large-scale agriculture and carbon trade projects, Papua New Guinean Christians will certainly have a lot of money pass through their hands. I hope that this book helps Christians to position themselves right to become active participants and not passive observers. I hope that when the wealth is in their hands, that they will give God His rightful place instead of getting carried away by greed and the pursuit of material possessions.

I also hope that pastors and other church workers will be able to use this as a handbook in the course of preaching to and counseling congregation members and others in the body of Christ on the important subject of personal finance and stewardship.
Finally, let me make this admission: I am just a layman pastor. I have not been to Bible College or seminary, so my knowledge of the Word of God and basic doctrines is quite inadequate. I have been trained as an economist, so although I know that the information I have packaged in this book is quite sound as far as the world’s financial and economic systems go, it may fall short in many ways from a Biblical perspective.

4 comments:

sarah said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Alena

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Ipul said...

Dear Tiri,
I wish to have a copy of your book " you cannot serve God and Money".
Could you advise me where in Port Moresby can I get a copy.
Cheers
Ipul Powaseu

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