Editor's Comment

Church must sit up

CHURCHES must think outside the box for them to meet their financial budgets. This is President Edgar Lungu’s advice in him urging the Church to take up income- generating activities such as farming to enable them to take care of their needy congregants.
He said it is certainly right that the Church should raise and expand its income. The Church just has to do that for it to continue being relevant or for it to fulfil its constant mandate of saving souls.
This is because besides preaching the gospel to congregants and lost souls, it is mandated by God to look after the poor.
Actually, according to Holy Scriptures, looking after the vulnerable in society such as orphans and widows is what is considered as true religion.
The Church is supposed to be a place of refuge where the vulnerable in society find hope and relief.
It is however worrying that instead of providing support to the poor, the Church is depending on the same poor people to fund it.
Today, many congregants will attest that there is so much financial pressure exerted by the Church on its members.
Besides known obligations such as returning tithes and offerings, members are from time to time asked to fund projects and other activities. They are fatigued, and some of them could even now be discouraged from being in church.
This is mainly because churches do not have sufficient funds to support all their activities, including helping the poor.
Today it is normal for the Church to ask for alms when building or engaging in any other project.
However, the truth is that there is no dignity in receiving alms.
The Church by its status is supposed to partner with Government to provide help and services such as health and education to the citizens.
For instance, a number of traditional churches such as the United Church of Zambia, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist Church and Reformed Church in Zambia have been known for providing education and health services to the general citizens.
These have done tremendously well in contributing to quality education and health care by running schools and hospitals across the country.
Indeed this is what the Church ought to do. It must prove its relevance beyond the pulpit.
It dilutes the gospel if, for instance, people who run to the Church for help are only dismissed with a prayer and told to wait for a miracle from heaven.
The Church should be conduits of that much-needed miracle by those in vulnerable situations.
This is why the head of State is saying instead of just sitting and waiting for tithes and offerings, which may be erratic at times because people give at will, churches will do well to exploit the potential in agriculture.
Churches should engage the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Ministry of Lands to apportion pieces of land among them for farming.
By engaging in farming, the Church will be creating jobs for the jobless youths.
The churches will also raise enough funds to support the needy in their communities.
They will also be empowered to support their local projects, including building of sanctuaries without compromising their dignity by asking for alms even from those with questionable agendas.
Financial independence and sustainability actually fortifies the Church against undue influence.
This way the Church is able to offer objective and uncompromised counsel to all citizens regardless of status.
The voice of the Church today is not as powerful as it ought to be mainly due to its weak financial position.
Actually the Church should understand that it cannot afford to be impoverished because it is a contradiction of their faith and what they believe in.
If the Church is going to preach that God is the Provider, that provision should be seen in the House of God.
However, the Church must understand that for it to access God’s provision, there is need to follow prescribed principles.
One such principle is hard work. Christians are not exempted from hard work if they are to prosper.
There are no two ways about it. The Church must get its hands dirty through hard work to be able to experience financial abundance and independence.
Besides agriculture, churches can also venture into other honest lines of business to enhance their financial position.
Otherwise, without financial sustainability, the Church’s capability to fulfil its mandate here on earth is compromised.

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