Case Against Laying Money at the Preacher's Feet in Modern Churches
Laying Money at Pastors' Feet
There is a practice in some churches where people go up to the altar and lay money at the pastor's feet during the sermon. The controversial practice has become popular in many African-American churches and a few Caucasian churches as well.
The question is asked by first-time visitors why some congregants are moved to lay money at the altar while the pastor is preaching. There is a trifold answer.
- If the minister says something that that touches someone's heart, he responds by placing money at his feet.
- The person who puts money on the altar is expecting a financial blessing in return.
- The person who does so is misusing Acts 4:34-35.
Misusing the Scriptures
The act of laying money at the apostles' feet does have biblical roots. It is recorded in Acts 4:34-35 that there were no needy ones among them because those who owned lands or houses would sell their property and bring the proceeds from the sales and lay them at the apostles' feet for distribution to anyone as he had a need.
The money that is laid at the pastor's feet today is not done for the same reason as recorded in the scriptures. Besides, the people who gave were not promised a financial blessing for doing so like churchgoers are promised today.
Those who laid money at the apostles' feet in the book of Acts were already blessed with land and houses which they sold and had money to share. The next part of the scripture is what people today seem to miss.
The money was intended for distribution to anyone as he had a need.
In almost all the cases, the pastor keeps the money for himself, and there is absolutely no distribution among the people who are in need.
Some people defend the practice and say people should sow into the pastor and not be concerned with what he does with the money.
Reactions from Some Pastors
Congregants used to lay money at the feet of Dr. Creflo A. Dollar, founder and senior pastor of World Changers Church International in College Park, Georgia and World Changers Church in New York. Dollar's ministry is a very popular one. His Changing Your World broadcast can be seen on BET, TBN, WGN and on local stations.
Dr. Dollar admitted that after seeing it done at a convention in Fort Worth, Texas, he allowed the practice to happen at his own church. It went on at the services for a period of time until it was discontinued for the following reasons:
- The drove of people running up to the altar was a distraction for him who was preaching the word.
- It was a disturbance that kept people from hearing the word.
- It appears as if some people were doing it for the wrong reason.
- Those who never gave found fault with those who did give.
The popular pastor shared that he never kept the money for himself. The deacons would take the money off the altar and add it to the regular offering. He pointed out what most pastors who receive the money as their own neglect to think about. Dollar said that churches have to deal with the IRS codes involving the tax laws for nonprofits, so accepting the money as his own adds another layer of concern for the church and the pastor.
Rev. Jamal Harrison-Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple in West Baltimore, Maryland says he neither endorses the practice nor discourages it. However, there are a lot of well-known churches in Baltimore and other places in the United States that do endorse the practice.
The money is supposed to go the poor, but it doesn't. The members aren't sowing a seed for the needs of others. They are giving TO the pastor because he or she promised them they will get a blessing from God.
Giving money to those who are performing is a reminder of what happens in a strip club.
Some leaders keep people from walking around during the worship service, but they don't stop people when they rush up to lay money on the altar.
Not all churches have people laying money at the pastor's feet, but some have offering lines for the pastor in addition to the offering basket to collect money for the church. There are lines for different amounts, $100, $50, $25, etc.
This is a personal account, and I hope it is believed by those who read it because I have no reason to lie and I couldn't have made this stuff up.
Years ago, I attended a small church with a group of friends. After the sermon had been preached and the offering basket had been passed, the pastor asked for people to get in different lines. She didn't hide the fact that what was collected would go directly to her and those who gave would get a blessing. It was apparent that she did it every Sunday because the members knew exactly what to do.
I did not agree with the practice, so I remained seated. When the pastor saw that I was the only one not in one of the lines, she called me out. In fact, she said there is a devil sitting among us who is not following instructions. My friends who were in one of the high priced offering lines beckoned me to join them and offered to give me money to give the pastor. I refused to budge. The pastor went on and on ranting about me not getting in one of the lines.
I kindly got up to leave and as I was heading toward the exit, I heard her say, "Look at my hair and nails, I need finances for them. Look at my clothes. They aren't free."
As I left the building, I sat in my car for a while before driving off. I wept. I wept not because of what the pastor had said to me but because of how she was misleading the other people. I knew what she was doing was wrong and what she said to me was not biblical.
Something good came out of that experience. It was about three years later when my friends apologized for what happened. They admitted that they finally realized the pastor was wrong, and it was wrong for them to offer me money to give her since I did not believe in the practice. They are no longer at that church because their eyes were finally opened, and they know now that they do not have to pay for a blessing. Needless to say, I never went back to that church, but every time I think about that awful experience, I say, "Come, Lord Jesus!"