The Wicked Art of Pledge Taking
- Ecclesiastes 5:1-6
Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words. When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?
I thought I would go over another practice of the fellowship as it relates to money. One of the practices of the pastors of the fellowship is to take pledges for certain "needs." This can be for a building fund, to get a new building, or to plant a church, or at a conference to help the "mother church" plant an international church.
I consider this one of the most insidious practices of the fellowship of Wayman O. What these men will do is preach a sermon related to the need, giving by faith, and the like. They will create an emotional state of mind in people, usually of both faith and guilt. They convey the idea that those living by faith will gladly make a pledge to meet this particular need, and that those who don't are covetous, or bound by a "spirit of mammon."
What frequently happens as a result of this practice is people will pledge more than they can actually afford. After all, they are already giving tithes and offerings. The pastor will often mention, when he is taking the pledge, that this pledge is to be in addition to all of the money the people are already giving. So, in an emotional moment, people write on a piece of paper what they are pledging to give to this new "need," in addition to what they are already giving.
Inevitably, people find themselves too strapped to follow through with what they pledge. The pastor notices that the amount coming in for this pledge is less than what he calculated from what the people had written on the papers they put in the offering. He also notices that the regular offerings are dropping, meaning that people are taking money that they normally were putting in as part of their regular offering and using it to pay their pledge. What will the pastor do?
Most likely he will preach from the passage I quoted at the beginning of this post, from Ecclesiastes 5. Without mercy, he will hammer people with this Scripture and tell them that they dare not tell God that their pledge was a mistake, for God takes no delight in fools. And the pastor will boldly declare, "Pay what you have vowed." Many will be crying out to God at the foot of the stage, erroneously called "the altar," and apologizing to God for having failed Him. They will then beg, borrow, and steal to be able to catch up with the pledge they made, and to maintain it for the appointed amount of time that they pledged it. They will borrow from unsaved relatives, they will draw on their already overcharged credit cards, and will even sell possessions rather than fail God, for the pastor has told them that God has no pleasure in their foolishness.
It is such a con game. The whole thing. People should take to heart what Ecclesiastes says and not make a pledge that they cannot afford. Instead, the pastor pushes them, in the name of faith, to pledge more than they can reasonably afford. Then he blames them for breaking their pledge down the road.
I've got an idea. Since these pastors love to say, "It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay," don't make any more pledges. Why risk angering God by making a pledge, that if you stopped and thought about it for a moment you would know you can't afford? Is it faith to pledge more than you can afford, or is it presumption? Make up your mind that from now on you are not going to make any more pledges. That way when the pastor gets up and preaches at people who have broken their pledges you can just sit there and smile at him.
Especially make up your mind when you go to conference not to make any pledges. My personal advice is skip the next conference and go on vacation. It will almost certainly cost you less money. You won't have a host of pastors and leaders trying to squeeze more money out of you. But if you do go, skip the pledges, and that way you won't have some unrighteous preacher laying a guilt trip on you about not keeping your vow down the road. Why do I say that? Because they almost always cause people to pledge more than they can really afford. It is the nature of what they do. They manipulate people into making vows they shouldn't make. That is at the core of the corruption of the fellowship itself.
So, save yourself the guilt trip. Just throw in a blank piece of paper when they pass the offering plates for your pledges. I would love to see the look on the pastor's face if people in the church ever really wised up and he got nothing but blank pieces of paper. Or even better, if he got a bunch of papers that said, "It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay."