A South Carolina Megachurch Pastor is receiving both praise and criticism after offering parishioners in need money from the church offering plates.
Pastor John Gary of Relentless Church in Greenville, SC, posted a video to Facebook last week where he can be seen standing before his congregation and asking them how the church can help them meet their needs.
He said, “The role of the church is also to meet the needs of people in the house.”
“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,” he continued.
“Come to the altar. Stand right here. There’s some money in these baskets,” Gary said as he pointed down to the offering baskets at the front of the stage.
The church exploded with applause, as Gary said while holding back tears, “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.”
The video’s caption reads, “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. We can’t do everything. But we can do something. I love my church. THIS is church. Book of Acts style.”
According to WND, the video, which has now garnered some 178,000 views, was met with mixed feelings. While most people were blown away by the pastor’s commitment to his parishioners, others felt that it was not his right to give the churches money away and then post about it on Facebook.
One person, Kathy Allen, who supported the pastor’s actions wrote, “Pastor John, you are one of a kind and we appreciate you and Pastor Aventer so much! My heart was so touched by what you did Sunday. The people that came were so humble and thankful. I have seen you give of yourself and your substance to people on so many occasions in the 6 months that you have been our Pastor. May God multiply your seed 100 fold and I pray our church is blessed beyond measure because you are setting the example for us to follow. Lead on, Pastor John. We will follow.”
Another, Julie Miller wrote, “My husband & I were brought to tears as we watched your service live on Sunday. You know why??? We struggled for a long time financially and never once did our huge church in AZ ever offer help. If you asked you were sent else where. If our church people are broke n never see the body of christ meet their needs theres something wrong. How can you help the community around you n leave your own people with no hope. You truly amaze me with how you pastor your church. Its ALL JESUS!! I honor your heart & pray The lord blesses you 100 fold for being obidiant to what God said.”
One man, Nick Cannady, said, “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!”
Still, others felt Gary handled the situation wrong. One Facebook user, Shirley Faye Layton, wrote, “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.”
She continued, “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.”
Photo courtesy: Thinkstock
Video courtesy: John Gary Ministries