The topic of giving or tithing is far from a unique sermon point in churches. However, one Christian leader, Pastor John Gray, of Relentless Church located in Greenville, South Carolina, had an extremely interesting take on the topic that included calling other pastor’s who pushed those who could ill afford to do so to give “pulpit pimps.”
When reading that description, people will likely wonder what type of sermon Pastor John Gray preached that would include a reference to “pulpit pimps.” He basically was using that language to explain his personal beliefs regarding pastors who guilt their congregations into giving when they themselves may need help financially.
“For too long people have stood in the pulpit and told you to give, give, give,” Gray said during the service. “Very rarely have I seen churches stop and said ‘leave the baskets out, let the people get what they need.’ We’ve got too many pulpit pimps who want to get fat off people but don’t want to meet the needs of the poor people. And Jesus said that’s who you supposed to be taking care of. We got widows, we got orphans, we’ve got single moms in here. We might not be able to do everything, but we can do something. I wish we could do more, but it’s the best we can do right now.”
At the end of his sermon, titled “Leftovers,” Pastor Gray did something that has likely never been done before in the history of the church. He told his congregants to withhold their offerings until they understood what was being preached, then he explained that anyone within the congregation could take from the offering baskets if they were themselves in need.
“The role of the church, elder, is not only to receive from the people of God but to meet the needs of the people of God,” he said. “I asked you to hold your offering until something in your spirit connected with the Word. Did you all hear me when I said that? But the role of the church is also to meet the needs of the people in the house. Are there any single mothers here? You had an orange light in your gas tank when you pulled up, where are you? Come to the altar. Hurry. Single mothers. Are there any single fathers and you had less than a quarter tank of gas, where are you? Come to the altar. Come to the altar.”
After Pastor Gray’s imploring for those in need to come forward, scores of people streamed to the altars. Gray then told them to stand before the offering baskets.
“Here’s what I want you to do. There’s some money in these baskets. You get what you need for you and the kids to eat and get some gas,” he said to them.
At this, the congregation erupted in joyous applause and cheers. Some members were coming up and giving, while others in need where taking small amounts from the offering baskets. Those who were receiving much needed help were seen visibly weeping in thanksgiving. After mentioning single mothers and fathers, Pastor Gray went on to include widows and veterans. He explained that even though his newly formed church was itself not on secure financial footing, he believed God asked him to share the offerings and he was only being obedient.
“These people don’t know what it took for me to do this,” Gray explained. We are a six-month-old church with no savings account. We believe God every week but the Lord told me to do this because if I trust Him, whatever is left over would have to be enough.”
Pastor Gray says this will not be the last instance of the church providing for its members financially. He said, “Just know as the Lord keeps blessing us, we’re going to do it more and more. We’re going to start buying cars for women who are catching the bus. We’re going to buy houses for people who are having trouble affording rent.“
This example of true obedience by Pastor Gray is something to be admired by all believers. Surely it is much like the loaves and fishes and God will ensure this congregation has more than enough left over to meet its needs, even after everyone within its membership has been provided for adequately.
~ 1776 Christian