The Sunday Mail
Sowing in the house of God has been one of the hot issues confronting today’s church.
A barrage of attacks and criticisms have been levelled against the church for encouraging sowing in different forms; be it in monetary value, time or expertise.
It seems seeding in the church is a thin line between manipulation of the word of God and the truth hinged on the fact that as long as the earth remains, there shall be seeding and harvesting time.
As such pastors, church leaders and prophets; especially those who lead the Pentecostal denominations, have been on the firing line for encouraging this issue for personal gain.
Therefore one wonders: are church leaders pushing this gospel for personal gain or is the church awakening to a fact that they can’t move with the pauper tag anymore?
United Family International Church Pastor, Prime Kufakunesu said the attack on the principle of sowing has risen because of the scarcity of money.
“The principle of sowing is no less Biblical than attending church gatherings or no less spiritual than speaking in tongues. I believe the attacks on this principle arise from the fact that it involves the commodity that everyone (including the non believers) is chasing after – money!
“So when money goes to church, it goes into ‘hiding’ from non-believers and they have no access to it. Thus they then try to ‘drive it out’ so that they can have the chance to chase after it again,” Pastor Kufakunesu said.
“In the book of Proverbs 11:24-25, the Bible makes us see that scattering (the early method of sowing/planting), as opposed to withholding (being miserly) causes one to increase (to be fruitful).
“And in the book of Luke 6:38, Jesus implores us to “give and it shall come back to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over . . . ” meaning that there are returns when one sows a seed into the work of God.
The Apostle Paul also encourages the Corinthian church, not only to sow but to sow bountifully so as to reap bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6ff) And the Bible tells us that Jesus had partners who invested into His ministry ‘with their substance’ (Luke 8:2ff). So the issue is sowing seeds in the church is actually found in many portions of scripture,” added Pastor Kufakunesu.
Pastor Kufakunesu said he wondered why there was so much outcry when there is sowing in the church.
“Personally I have seen people ‘sow’ money into political parties, sports clubs, etcetera in order to reap whatever returns but that has never been a problem warranting such attacks as have been faced by the church.
“Where do people draw the line? Is it because they think that the people that go to church are so gullible and prone to manipulation as compared to those that attend political meetings and therefore need protection? I do not want to be judgmental but if I were to select who is wise between a person who invests in eternity and one investing in fickle politics, I would choose the former.
“I wonder why there is an outcry when one gives their goat to be slaughtered for a church meeting and no such outcry when one donates their goat for a sports tournament or a political rally. Just wondering!” Pastor Kufakunesu said.
The UFIC senior pastor said there was need to recognise that church, like any other institution, incurs expenses as well.
“One reason for the unwarranted attack on seeding may be that outsiders believe that the seeds sown in church are then stashed in the pockets of the Bishop or Priest or Pastor of that church after the service. But churches have expenses to take care of too! The church does not operate in a ‘churchly’ economy, it has to pay for goods and services like everyone else and so the funds have to be well managed.
“In fact, churches have shown to be more organised in handling their finances than most organisations run through public funding. This is why we find political and sports organisations that have been around for centuries but do not own a single building.
“But four or five-year old churches own land or buildings, unless their doctrines believe otherwise. The church has no other means of financial support other than its membership and attacking this system is akin to trying to suffocate it,” added Pastor Kufakunesu.
While the mainline church has pushed the doctrine of tithing or pledges, its voice has remained fairly low on the general subject of sowing.
Methodist Church in Zimbabwe Reverend Mafala Masuku said churches do have a base for the teaching of sowing.
“In churches where a word is preached and they ask you to sow that is the culture in those churches. Churches don’t just pick things from nowhere, the word says there is more happiness in giving than in receiving.
“My son goes to one of those churches and at the beginning of the year he took all his salary to the church. He has a strong belief that he is planting his money so that God gives him back. And now he has a very successful life. It is his faith. The problem is people give and doubt that God gives back,” Reverend Masuku said.
Reverend Masuku, however, said some of the churches are appealing to the emotions of people creating an excitement that could be in vain.
“As a mainline church our message is hinged on Malachi 3 from verse 10 where the Lord tells believers that what they have is His.
Therefore everyone is obligated to give a tithe because it belongs to him. If you don’t in some versions it actually says you are robbing God. It’s serious and it’s only one tenth of what you have. The Lord always doubles, God watches over his word to perform.
“Some churches appeal to emotions. Be grounded in the word. They imbibe the character of Christ. Christ wasn’t excitable, he healed people but inside he was a bomb.
“Some of these leaders are disintegrating, some are divorcing, and you see that now that person is gone. As for us we are built on solid ground, we follow the word and are not excitable,” concluded Reverend Masuku.
Weighing in with his comments, Mr Emmanuel Chigu, an African traditionalist, said culturally people have always been taught to give more so that good will also be returned.
“When it comes to the church I believe it’s all about how one would have been touched by the word. Because of that you want to thank the word that might have transformed you one way or the other. And I know talking to some guys who are so much into Christianity they say when seeding you are preparing for the future.
“But when people then go to seed because someone had preached so well whether they are seeding to encourage the person to continue preaching or to get more blessing I don’t know.
What I don’t understand is when it’s preached that you must give, that I don’t understand.
“Why should I be encouraged to give when it’s coming from my heart?
Mr Chigu added that a poverty mentality is leading people to be desperate.
“People believe that if they play lotto tomorrow they are going to be rich. So if I seed with my $20 in the pocket tomorrow I get $200 000. I was in a church were there were offerings being made. In my pocket I had $2 yet they had to call for offerings in higher denominations.
“The highest figure was $15 000 and I think the least figure was $250, it never got less. So how about people like us with $2?” queried Mr Chigu.
One Christian Mrs Priscilla Musoki said seeding is a word that has been abused across the board.
“People are now being forced to give on the understanding that when they have given it is going to come out bigger and better.
“There is nothing I can give to God that makes me deserve what He has given me already. So when I give I’m not doing so for what He will do for me but what He has already done for me in gratitude.
“So when I get something from God I don’t want to link it with what I gave Him. But it has a cyclical effect, it is in God’s nature to reward those that give Him not only money but in time or expertise.
“I find that generally what is critical in every Christian’s life is to read the word. Because when somebody preaches they are preaching their interpretation. The problem with Christians today is that they are lazy to read the word.
“Because when you read and meditate upon it God speaks to you. Whether somebody says something heretical on the pulpit it doesn’t affect you because you have read the word,” Mrs Musoki said.
Mrs Musoki highlighted that yesteryear leaders were committed to the desires of the word of God.
“The prophets spoke of the state of the nations and what God thought of that. Prophets of today are speaking of money more than the state of the nation.
“Back in the day, prophets suffered for the ministry, the prophets of today live in luxurious houses and even have bodyguards.
“Wealth is good but the how part is what I have the problem with. And you can’t use seeding as an excuse to get rich. Tell people to work, go to school and if people want to give let them give. But don’t coerce or scare them. Some don’t attend church because they don’t have seed money. That’s wrong,” added Mrs Musoki who is from one of the mainline churches.
Ms Leah Dhliwayo, a member of Celebration Ministries International, said people were being driven by wrong motives in preaching and seeding in the church.
“Seeding helps the upkeep of the church. It is giving something in the house of God be it money, kind or doing voluntary work in the church.
“There are many examples in the Bible of people who did that. Abel took the best sheep to go and sacrifice to the Lord as an offering, Abraham gave a tenth of his belonging to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-200) and after Ruth’s husband died she stuck with her mother-in-law (Ruth 1:16). She worked in the fields and got a husband (Ruth 4).
“So some are giving with right motives, some are giving expecting an immediate return which isn’t a good motive. And some of the prophets’ teaching is giving people wrong motives.
“They should let people know that offerings, tithes or pledges help the church to run smoothly and be financially stable. But people are running after churches looking for prosperity.
“Which I think is wrong because people are no longer preaching the real word of God. After his giving Abraham had a child after so many years. But we expect returns immediately,” Ms Dhliwayo said.