Pastoring Prosperous Sheep

“If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” - James 2:8-9

Can God trust you to equally esteem every one of His sheep, or do you have favorite sheep? How do you treat the well-dressed person and the not-so-well-dressed person when they come into your sanctuary? Do you invite the well-dressed person to take the best seat in the house and tell the other person who is obviously poor to sit somewhere else? If so, James 2:9 says that you have sinned. You have not loved your neighbor as yourself.

In many churches, wealthy people are treated differently than people who have fewer financial resources. Many have their own parking spot and a special place to sit. The church caters to them, and the pastor acknowledges them all the time. When these people come to the church I pastor, they expect the same treatment. I have to explain to them that, “It doesn't matter whether you give a dollar or $100,000 this year. God supplies our need at Word of Faith. Therefore, you will not be treated differently.” Some of them leave after that conversation and some stay.

I don't know who the wealthy people are in the church unless someone tells me. I do not look at giving records because I don't want to know who gives the money. Now obviously, if an individual gives a major gift, I will find out about that. If someone gives the church an offering by first giving the money to me, I will know about that, too. However, I do not go out of my way to identify wealthy people; neither do I cater to them.

My job is not to keep my parishioners happy; my job is to feed them. Sometimes that makes them happy and sometimes it doesn't. I am interested in keeping God happy! You cannot treat people differently because they contribute to your ministry. If you do that, they will be in a hurry to tell you what to do with that money.

A man who had given a large sum of money to our church came to my office once, apparently thinking that I'd be impressed by his gift. He hadn't done his scouting! He proceeded to tell me how much money he'd given to the church in the last several months and what he thought should happen. At that point, I said, “I'll be glad to refund you every dime of your money. I don't need your money, and I don't want it. You will not tell me what to do. I pastor this church, and I know Someone who can give me more money than you will ever have.”

The larger a church gets, the more you'll have to exercise control in situations like these. With thousands of parishioners, if you don't have control, chaos will ensue. People will get hurt, and you'll be facing lawsuits. You have to please God, live credibly and earn the people's respect.