Thursday, July 27, 2006
PASTOR HANDS OUT MONEY DURING SERMON!
I woke up to a humid Sunday morning in Penang; thought it might be a good idea to check out one of the local independent charismatic churches. So of we went to the mall! Yup the congregation meets in a mall; the greeters were friendly; a Chinese lady dressed in yellow sari wrote my name on a sticker and stuck it on top of my shirt pocket. The praise and worship was led by the keyboardist; not surprisingly there was no liturgy, eucharist or the creed. The preacher was a bundle of energy; his sermon began with a video clip on Schindler’s list; the message, Engagement Not Isolation, was a cry to get involved in the social issues of the day. It was hard to leave the Sunday service without a deeper consciousness of the church’s role in society. Nothing other-worldly at all about the message. The application was wide ranging: from praying for the cabinet during their weekly meetings to exhorting the faithful to be part of a work team committed to cleaning up a dirty and neglected part of neighborhood. At the end of the sermon a few men responded in prayer to the sermon (great to see men praying).
Juices began to flow in the congregation when the Pastor gave out money to those who answered his questions correctly during the sermon. An elderly looking gentlemen won $RM50 for identifying a governing authority; he promptly donated it to a special fund for the construction of a lift which would help the disabled to have easy access to the church sanctuary.
Pastors handing out money to the congregation is'nt common place. Can’t imagine anything like this taking place in an Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran or Roman Church?
The pastor’s wife told me that her husband got the idea from an Australian speaker. “We just want to bless people”, she said. Some conservative minded folk would probably not rush to say amen. Giving people money for right anwers to questions related to the sermon puts a sword to the sentiment that churches only want money from their people.
I left the Sunday service surprised and challenged.