Reprinted with permission from Charisma magazine.

Let's suppose you are closing out your day with some salsa and chips when you flip on the television. You wince as you witness a repeat performance--not of another episode of Survivor but of a high-powered, high-pressure appeal for money during a talk show on your local Christian station.

"Ohhh, the anointing is so strong right now," the host says. "You need to give while the anointing is here!" You believe in the anointing of God and in the power of prayer. You love and appreciate many of the people on this TV program and you know God uses them. You certainly don't want to be critical. So you close your eyes, shake your head in disgust and turn off the set. "This is embarrassing," you say to yourself. "Something isn't right. Lord, I don't understand--does it have to be this way?" I know how you feel. I have seen this in church services and conferences and some of the same thoughts have surfaced in me. Over the next several days you find yourself in conversations with Christian friends. Somehow the topic of Christian fund raising is mentioned.
"It's time to halt pressure-laden, deceptive, unbiblical, gimmicky practices that grieve God and hurt the cause of Christ.
The other people have strong opinions, from "It makes me sick" to "As soon as I see that stuff I turn off the TV." I wish this craziness were the exception, but it seems it is becoming the rule. During one recent week I turned on the tube and witnessed the following:
  • In a highly charged atmosphere, a motivational speaker told her audience to shout "Amen!" She was flanked by a group of nodding, hand-clapping and hand-waving supporters. "Slap someone in agreement," she said.

    Agreement with what? The speaker quoted Psalm 71:21 and promised if viewers would pledge $71.21 a month for 12 months ($854.52) that God had told her He would give them "increase and greatness." The evangelist continued: "He'll stop that lawsuit. ... Greatness will be released in your job and finances and ministry and marriage even if you don't have the resources or have two nickels to your name or don't have a man to support you! Go to that phone and pledge $71.21 a month, and I prophesy to you that God will increase your greatness! Give now!"

  • A well-dressed "bishop" who divorced his wife and remarried one week later forcefully told his audience to "obey the prophet of God and give." He said God gave him a word for the young people: "You are in tremendous credit card debt, but if you'll get up and pledge money and put it on your credit card, God will intervene for you.
    Don't let anything hinder you. Today salvation comes to your house."

    (I wish I could remind this guy of Proverbs 22:26-27. It says that if you foolishly go into debt your very bed will be snatched from under you.)

  • Another internationally known church leader told his TV audience that eight men were supposed to give $1 million each in the offering. "You have a choice," he told them. "Obey God and win or disobey God and keep losing. You will lose God's blessing! Go! And praise God while you're dialing the phone."

  • Another leader used this hook to urge viewers to pledge money: "The more you pledge, the more protection you'll have from God." During other broadcasts this person had implied that people would be healed if they would sow money into his ministry!

    I can't help but remember the account of Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:9-21. His greed lured him to ask Peter if he could buy the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

    Peter rebuked him sharply and said: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God" (NIV).

    Stop the Madness!

    The people I have described are sincere, but they are also misleading God's people. And if we don't bring some correction to their behavior soon the testimony of the American church will be ruined.

    Referring to finances, the apostle Paul told the Corinthian church that their credibility was vital

    . "We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men" (2 Cor. 8:20-21).
  • Can we say this today in our churches and ministries when we raise funds? Personally, I believe things have gotten so out of hand that our meek and mild Jesus is picking up His whip to cleanse the temple one more time.