The migration of church services to online platforms due to the Covid-19 lockdown has also brought forward the debate of offerings and tithes for church-goers and members. Many on social media have felt that because of the tough times everyone is going through, it should not be expected of Christians to pay tithes and offerings.
A video of pastor, reality TV star and presenter Bishop Israel Makamu encouraging his members to make a seed offering has gone viral, leaving many divided.
In the video, the pastor says even in these tough times, the best thing people can do is to offer so they can succeed financially.
Watch the video here:
Reacting to the video, some called on churches to be regulated while others criticised Makamu for asking for offerings during a time when people are jobless, hungry and struggling.
But for many, there is nothing wrong with pastors reminding members to make offers online.
Moses Shivambu, a Christian and senior member of a Tembisa-based church, believes people should steer away from judging the practices of churches.
“I am against false prophets and everything they stand for. Most of them are all about the money and scamming our people, by all means let’s all condemn that. However, there are churches that are run for the benefit of people’s spiritual and physical beings – churches that adhere not only to the rules of the Bible but also abide by the laws of the country.
“People should understand that the church operates as an NPO and its only ‘income’ is from its general membership. In many churches the pastor is not even a signatory to any of the organisations’ bank accounts to make sure there is transparency in how the finances are run – for the benefit of the organisation.
“Without speaking for Makamu, [Prophet Shepherd] Bushiri or whichever other pastor is trending there on the social-media platforms, I will say though that I think there is also a need for people to understand that for Christians, offering and seed planting is Biblical and will not stop now because there are elements of self-enrichment that have spoilt the reputation of churches. Imagine being unemployed and living in a shack with no food, and a pastor knocks on your door to give you food bought with the money ‘offered’ by Christians who are financially able to do so. You will never understand what [that] does for both the giver and receiver. So please think of that before painting all churches with the same brush,” Moses tells Move!.
Speaking to Move!, 59-year-old Sponono Makgatho says she received food parcels from three local churches since the lockdown started.
“I had to wait a little longer for my food parcels from Sassa. Had it not been for those churches, my son and I were this close to going begging on the streets. It was bad,” she says.