Sun | Dec 5, 2021

Pastor criticises churches that focus on collections during pandemic

Published:Wednesday | September 29, 2021 | 2:44 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Rachael James (right), youth president, Central Gospel Chapel, handing over a small financial contribution to one of several youngsters in the community the church has assisted with schooling.
Rachael James (right), youth president, Central Gospel Chapel, handing over a small financial contribution to one of several youngsters in the community the church has assisted with schooling.
Pastor Javaughn Taylor of the Central Gospel Chapel.
Pastor Javaughn Taylor of the Central Gospel Chapel.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has economically impacted most sectors in Jamaica, including the church, where pastors have seen collections almost totally wiped out in some cases, as government-stipulated social-distancing rules kick in.

To reverse dwindling offerings, some pastors have reportedly increased their focus on collections, some going great lengths as they try and collect from their absent congregants.

But such focus is misplaced and is being criticised by at least one pastor. Pastor Javaughn Taylor of the Central Gospel Chapel in Aleppo, Clonmel, St Mary, believes the church should instead focus on finding ways to serve the most vulnerable in our communities.

“A pastor asked me the other day if my offering is decreasing, or I collect from the shut-ins; that question is so unbecoming of a spiritual leader,” Taylor told The Gleaner.

“The church this time must not be focused on money,” he warned, adding that this could lead to selfish individualism.

“In a pandemic, why are some leaders interested in getting offering rather than finding other means and ways to better serve the most vulnerable in our communities?” he questioned.

Noting that individuals have felt the economic impact of COVID-19 in different ways, Taylor believes that if persons are blessed and convicted to give they should be allowed to do so freely, and not compelled to do so.

“Little is much when God is in it,” he reminded.

Post-pandemic era

Taylor said in the post-pandemic era, many churches will find it necessary to develop funding sources beyond tithes and offerings, with churches often seeing their financial circumstances through the lens of scarcity, thus failing to recognise assets and opportunities within their grasp.

The pastor cited the pandemic as a wake-up call to churches to face problems and opportunities that had existed long before the advent of COVID-19. The crisis, he pointed out, has revealed areas of vulnerability and has increased the receptivity to change.

“The church should be the church, where the broken vessel comes to be mended, the empty comes to be filled and the weak comes to be strong.

The church needs a revival again, this is a time when the church is needed in domestic and community service,” Taylor added.

Taylor said Jamaica is in need of healing while the church seems to be locked in, and Jesus locked out.

Taylor spoke against the backdrop of an agricultural programme he instituted earlier this year to help youngsters in his community on a path of independence, among other community activities that he has been leading.

Currently, the Central Gospel Chapel is helping youngsters with school expenses, contributing funds to this effect.

“The church needs to serve the people,” Taylor asserted.