A pastor of a South Carolina megachurch is receiving both praise and criticism after offering those in need in his church to take whatever money they needed from the offering basket.
John Gray of Relentless Church in Greenville made the offer during a recent sermon which was posted on his Facebook page.
“The role of the church is also to meet the needs of people in the house,” Gray says in a video of the event, which has 176,000 views.
“Any single mothers in here?” he asked. “Any widows? Are there any single fathers, are there any veterans that don’t have what they need to make ends meet? Come to the altar. Stand right here. There’s some money in these baskets.”
To applause from those in attendance, Gray added: “You get what you need for you and the kids to eat and get some gas. We might not be able to do everything, but we can do something.”
In a caption under his video, Gray explained: “Our church is six months old. We don’t have a war chest of money. We believe God every week for what we need. But God told me after we collected offering to leave [it] at the altar. And then let those who had needs get what they needed — from the offering baskets. … I love my church. THIS is church. Book of Acts style.”
Before coming to South Carolina, Gray was an associate pastor under the leadership of the well-known megapastor Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.
Reaction to Gray’s offer on social media has been mostly positive, with comments such as:
- “WOW! That’s The most BIBLICAL thing I’ve ever seen in a worship gathering! Good thing he didn’t ask ‘How many preachers we got in the house?’ Hello!” (Nick Cannady)
- “I’ve never seen this done in my life. Hallelujah!” (Anita Stringer)
- “Awesome love this man. A true man of God!! Thank you in the name of Jesus!! (Lydia Sanchez)
- “Wow, that’s unheard of at these greedy megachurches today. GOD bless you for having a heart and compassion for your parishioners.” (Annie Smith)
There were some critics, though, including Shirley Faye Layton, who said:
“Not all churches can afford to do this. John Gray pastors a megachurch with millionaires as a part of the congregation. John Gray has a TV show, a reality show that he is paid to do. I know pastors that right now choose not to accept a salary … but if a member has a need he doesn’t give it out of the church’s funds, he goes into his own back pocket and supplies that need. You will never see or hear about this humble man, getting on Facebook or even speaking from the pulpit about what he blessed someone with.
“Why is [it] as soon as we do something for someone we have to go public? Every time that Jesus blessed or healed someone, the first thing that he always told them was, ‘See that you tell no one.’ If you have to boast about what you have done for God’s people, well guess what … God gets no glory from that. When men pat you on the back because you have done a great job, that’s your glory and God said he was a jealous God and he will not share his glory. So if you gotta publicize what you’ve done, it’s really not truly of God. His word also says that which you do in secret he will reward you openly.”
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