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I crave your indulgence…

26 June 2019

I’m still trying to get my head around this.

A couple of days ago I saw this picture on social media.

Back in the 16th century Protestant reformers objected to the Roman Catholic Church raising money by selling indulgences to penitents, but here is a Protestant church selling tickets to worshippers for a worship night.

What’s the difference?

I realise that churches need money to do their work, but putting a price on worship really seems a bit much..

It seems that the public image of Christian churches is that they are now primarily money-making businesses. On the question and answer site Quora people ask questions like How much do pastors make and what do they do all week?, and How much do mega-pastors make?

I suspect that a lot of people who ask questions like that are doing so to judge whether being a “pastor” is a sufficiently lucrative career. Someone once asked me how to become a church marriage officer, and I’m pretty sure that was because in some parts of the country church marriage officers of different denominations have set up a cartel, where they have agreed among themselves to charge certain fees, and agree not to undercut each other.

Back in the 19th century some Anglican parishes were actual businesses. They would raise the money to build a church by forming a limited liability company (a for-profit company, not a non-profit) and would sell shares in the company, and then pay dividends out of pew rents. But eventually people got embarrassed by that practice, and it stopped, though I still remember seeing notices in St Mary’s Anglican Cathedral in Johannesburg informing worshippers that “All seats in this church are free”/

It is things like these that contribute to the image of Christian churches as being primarily money=-making organisations.

Yes, I realise that churches need money to function, that bills have to be paid and all that, but putting a price on worship? Eish!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 26 June 2019 9:20 am

    I agree. It’s very sad. My home church is going the same way, I’m sorry to say.

    In your example, it’d be different if the worship night was being held at a stadium, and the venue needed to be rented (but even then, I’d expect the poster to explicitly state that as the reason for charging), but this event is being held AT the church.

    I’d also sort-of understand charging for food and drink at this concert, or selling CDs or videos and stuff, because those things aren’t included in the “worship”. But selling tickets to participate in a worship event at the church? Really? 😦

    As per your other comments, I, of course, understand that ministers, pastors, etc need to be paid a salary. But, at least in the Methodist church, it isn’t very much. As to what they do all week, I can’t speak for anyone else, but my minister when I was growing up took Mondays off, spent Tuesday to Thursday visiting and talking to parishioners on the phone, attended meetings at the church on Fridays about church policy, admin, etc, and spent Saturdays preparing his sermon for Sunday. Then there were three services on Sunday, and after each one there was the obligatory greeting and chatting.

    And of course, that’s not including attending any and all church events, feits, dinners, youth concerts, courses, etc at the church during the week.

  2. 26 June 2019 12:39 pm

    What do they do all week? God only knows.

  3. Jennifer Stanier permalink
    26 June 2019 8:53 pm

    What a pity that churches feel the need to charge people to come and praise the Lord. Money grabbing is what Jesus condemned.

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