Man Carrying Bible

Ministry, Money and Motive

Article Type: Biblical Stewardship

"God Incorporated" is a 2019 movie which tells the fictional story of four MBA students who invent a new religion as their capstone project. Readying their creation to launch as a new business, one of the students quips, "We'll sell in-app purchases or…an afterlife!"

Immediately gaining 110,000 followers, the group's start-up takes off unexpectedly. The students immediately see the potential for a windfall until local religious officials begin demanding the project be shut down.

The rest of the movie revolves around the question of whether or not the cohort will choose to pursue a promising fortune or get kicked out of grad school. Although it was billed as a comedy, the film's not-so-subtle message is quite serious: religion is nothing more than really, really big business.

Painting all religion with the same stripe of greed is nothing new. For the Apostle Paul, this charge was a key reason he was a bi-vocational evangelist. Using God's name to hit the jackpot was everywhere and his ministry had to be different. Paul had to de-electrify the accusation he was just in it for the money.

"These hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.," said Paul to the elders from Ephesus. "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of work we must help the weak." (Acts 20:34-35a, NIV)

Instead of bristling at the suggestion he was greedy, Paul worked to provide for himself and others, as well as give to the poor. This approach, says Paul, came simply by "remembering the words of the Lord Jesus himself (who) said: 'It is more blessed to give than receive.'" (Acts 20:35b, NIV)

Without question, there are people who believe your church only wants to monetize God's name. How can you change their opinion? The possibilities are endless and what's done must fit your own context and times.

But no matter what you do, Jesus' directive makes it clear. It has to begin with giving.