Churches in wrong business; should be bringing in the sheaves



“The Council went on to compare such churches with banks “which own property but only to serve their core business of banking.” Churches Can Do Business to Support Ministry: NCCS, Singapore Christian Post 05 July 2010.

The Singapore Christian Post has relayed the position of the National Council of Churches Singapore (NCCS) that churches can do business including property holdings and investments. However, they are to concentrate on the Gospel message and not to be too “deeply” involved irrespective of the size of the business. The guidelines given were that it must be remained in the name of the church, and that proceeds must be clearly benefited by the church. Reference was made to City Harvest buyout of Suntec at 310 million in what the Christian Post said was to “cut costs” and due to increasing rental cost. Essentially, the message was to put the “talents” that we have to good use as faithful stewards. However, the difference between a Church and a Bank is that

a) The church is a charity and is tax free whilst the bank is not.

b) Property is owned by the bank for the purpose of having a venue to run the business and not as an income stream by itself.  Using the same analogy, the church should only own property that is clearly designated as places of worship.   CHC and NCC owned not only the church building but a place of general public interests such as shopping centers.

c) The rental of CHC was far less than 10% of its yearly income, and does not justify the purchase of Suntec at a cost of more than 100 years of rental.

d) The money is stored in the bank for safe keeping, and can be taken out in the future. The money given to the church is forever given away and we shall have our reward only in eternity (if at all).

The argument used by NCCS to downplay the size of the investments in hundreds of millions, as OK if the churches are not distracted by it is laughable. The larger the storehouse is, the larger the Cathedral, that is where your treasure is. It becomes a snare around the Gospel for one cannot serve two masters, God or money. It is very difficult for there is only one love in our hearts. God gave Israel Manna only for the day, ie only for what is required presently whilst we have kept wealth far beyond our basic needs and have horde up wealth in our banks. The churches large scale involvement in business and government is of course nothing new. The Catholic church for example once own two thirds of Europe and had spend the last 1500 years trying to maintain power, wealth and influence on Earth.

As NCCS has now effectively rubber stamped their two key churches involvement in business and billions now sunk into businesses, we should start treating the mega churches not as a church but as business entities subject to taxes and to the full letter of the law in terms of transparency, integrity, and conflicts of interests as of a large public listed corporation. Surely, the Senior Pastors of the mega churches are the CEOs (as they are currently paid as such), and we the share holders putting money in every month.

(Luke 19:11-13 NKJV) Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. "So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business till I come.'

During Jesus' stay at Zacchaeus, there was much expectation that something great was going to happen even the coming of the kingdom and rule of God and the expulsion of the Roman rule. Jesus preached his last sermon In the presence of Zacchaeus and his tax collector friends, and Jesus' disciples and supporters - truly the least in the community. The Pharisees and their agents would want not to be seen with sinners. In Luke 19:12, Jesus spoke of a nobleman coming to receive his kingdom and to return. before leaving, He gave minas or money to ten of his servants for them to do business. After collecting his kingdom, those who were found faithful gained great rewards, the servant who gained 5 minas was given 5 cities, and the servant with 10 minas was given 10 cities. The servant who kept the minas and did not put it to good use was persecuted and even what he had was given to the servant who the most faithful. What have we done with the message of the Good News? Have we kept it to ourselves.

The same sermon was repeated in Matt 25:14-29. The Christian church and their "prosperity doctrine" in Singapore would relate to this as receiving what you sow. Therefore, the church are encouraged to sow money into the kingdom of God to receive many fold in returns. Such interpretations are not insightful and regrettable because it takes no account of the context of the sermon.

(Luke 19:26,27 NKJV) 'For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

(Mat 25:30 NKJV) 'And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

Jesus was speaking to Zacchaeus and his tax collector associates who would be able relate to Jesus' message concerning money. These are people who invest and consider good returns as paramount. The talents are symbolic of the gift and the Good News message of eternal life through Christ Jesus. The servants are different groups of Jewish people. The Pharisees have had great exposure to the message of redemption and repentance. They sent agents to follow Jesus everywhere to find evidence to implicate Him. They did not made good use of the good news they had received but instead rejected Jesus. The tax collectors on the other hand have had much less exposure to Jesus. But the little they had, they remained faithful, they believed and accepted Jesus, repented of their sins and received His gift of life, and give the money they had for the spread of the Gospel. That is why there is a hundred fold harvest of people coming to know God.

Jesus had invested much time with the Pharisees, yet he got nothing back. The little time He invested with the "sinners", the least in the community, He got much in return by their willingness to receive Him into their lives. The Pharisees thought they were righteous and that they would go to heaven. They knew from the Scriptures that Jesus would come. Yet what they knew did not bear good fruit nor profit them much for when the Jesus, their Messiah came they rejected Him and His gift of eternal life. Therefore their reward of salvation and place of honor in the Messiah would be taken away and given to the least in the community that they have so despised. The message is therefore a kingdom message of those who has found their righteousness in Christ to receive eternal life, and then spread and proclaim this Good News Message thus bringing in a hundred fold harvest.

Jesus is the "nobleman" mentioned and the talents or minas given to each of the servants are but His gifts of eternal life and the message of the Good News. Are we to horde this message or to spread and declare it? The thought of leaving His disciples soon must have impacted strongly upon Jesus. Jesus was talking about Himself. He was the nobleman who will leave soon to a far country, to heaven. Before He left, and resurrected into heaven, He gave us the gift of eternal life. Have we received Jesus? or it is by our works and self righteousness just like the Pharisees who rejected Jesus. The "story" told by Jesus has yet to be fulfilled. Jesus is coming back again and when He comes back, He will judge on how we have treated His gift or "talent" of the Good News message of eternal life. Have we just planted the Gospel Good News in the ground where it will not grow, or did we witness and proclaim this message to the whole World that out of one seed many will believe in the name of Christ. We are asked to spread the Word and not horde it for ourselves.

(Mat 6:24 NKJV)  "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

(Mat 6:25 NKJV)  "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

(Mat 6:26 NKJV)  "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

We are so worried about what tomorrow holds that we begin to build large churches as if we were afraid we cannot pay the rent tomorrow even though the rental is such small percentage of the takings. We build storehouse with hundreds of millions in it, and invest it in business so that it will return us millions in the future thus supporting the church. We will end up loving the money that we horde up instead of loving God the source of the money. If Jesus is the same yesterday and today, surely He can provide for us tomorrow.

God is asking the church in Singapore today, to trust Him. Surely, we can observe the birds of the air, the Father feeding them daily, yet we are much more precious. Can’t we depend on God tomorrow, and the day after instead of depending on the business we put hundreds of millions into to reap the interest. We call it good stewardship, but God calls it fear and worry. We are reminded of an old hymn “Bringing In The Sheaves”, for God is calling us to bring in the harvest and God will promise to take care about the money. We are to do God’s work first and He will take care the rest for us.

Bringing In The Sheaves

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.


Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,
Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.



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