It might sound rather "sleazy" but controversial pastor Mark Driscoll's recent advice to his new congregation at The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, to "worship God with our wallet" is actually sound and biblical according to some Christian experts.
Two Sundays ago, King 5 reported that Driscoll preached a couple of sermons focusing on the biblical story of Jonah. On Tuesday a clip from a video reportedly recorded on Sunday and posted to YouTube shows Driscoll continuing his Jonah series and dishing out the advice to Christians that God should be worshipped with money to help spread the Gospel.
"We are Jonah," Driscoll said in the clip. "We have a Lord. We have a savior, his name is Jesus. We'll worship God with our wallet, we'll give unto the Lord so that the message of Jesus goes forth."
According to the Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts, executive director of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California, Driscoll is right.
"If we want to lead people in fully biblical worship, then we simply can't ignore money and its relationship to worship. In truth, Scripture frequently highlights this connection. From a biblical point of view, worship has plenty to do with your wallet and with the wallets of those you lead in worship," he notes in an op-ed for ChurchLeaders while admitting that he knows how "sleazy" the concept of worshipping with your wallet sounds.
"I can think of several reasons not to write an article called 'Worship With Your Wallet.' First, it sounds like a sermon from a sleazy televangelist trying to squeeze a few more dollars out of his gullible audience," he began.
Roberts, who also served for 16 years as the senior pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church in Irvine, California, explained that the Bible endorses giving as a form of worship.
"Because the early Christians believed that Jesus had given himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for sin (Heb 7:27), they did not maintain the Jewish tradition of offering sacrifices in the temple. But followers of Jesus did continue to give financial gifts as an expression of their gratitude to God (2 Cor 9:6-15). Generosity with one's economic resources was expected of Christians (Rom 12:8), especially of the rich (1 Tim 6:17-19). Their giving helped poor Christians (Rom 15:26) and supported other believers in their ministry efforts," he wrote. "Paul told the Philippians that their financial gifts for him were 'a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God' (Phil 4:14-18). God received generosity in his name as worship."
In a Bible Gateway devotional theologian Mark Allan Powell and author Randy Alcorn talk about giving as worship.
"Many people seem to think that the reason we have an offering during the Sunday morning service is because the church needs to pay its bills and also wants to do good things with the money that is collected. Your church does need to pay its bills, and it probably does do good things with the money you put in the offering plate … but that is not why we have an offering during the Sunday morning service," Powell said.
"The offering is an act of worship, an instance in which we are invited to give up something that we value — our money — as a sacrifice to God. In many ways, it is the high point of the liturgy. We come to church to worship God and at no other point in the service are we provided with so pure an opportunity for worship as this," he added.
"By giving, we enter into and participate in the grace of Christ. We worship. By giving in concert with our brothers and sisters in Christ's body, we jointly worship him, moved by each others' example and mutual participation," said Alcorn.
"In the building of the tabernacle, building of the temple, and repair of the temple, it was the corporate involvement of the community of saints in which the spirit of God moved so dramatically to produce extravagant giving. The same was true with the New Testament saints of Jerusalem in the early chapters of Acts and those in Macedonia spoken of in 2 Corinthians 8," he added.
Driscoll – who left the now defunct Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington after multiple allegations of wrongdoing, including that he bullied people within the church – told congregants listening to his Jonah sermon two Sundays ago that sometimes God sends hardship to help Christians.
"We tend to think if things go well it's from the Lord and if things are hard it must be from Satan. Let me [tell you] sometimes hard things come from God," Driscoll said. "Sometimes God will allow us to endure hardship for two reasons: to change who we are and where we are."
The storm he faced over the last two years he said, changed his family.
"Our family is here because of a storm … a storm in our own life and in the middle of it, we prayed and God gave of his word to my wife and myself... at two separate times," Driscoll said. "We surrendered to the Lord in the midst of our storm so that God could do work in us and move us to this place for mission."