Abuse is defined as misusing something or someone for a bad purpose. There are preachers who are misusing scripture in order to extort money from the most vulnerable people in the pews The American Psychological Association lists six ways that seniors can be abused. They are physical, sexual, emotional, financial/material exploitation, neglect, abandonment, and self-neglect. This Hub deals with numbers 3 and 4 where emotional abuse is used in order to improperly exploit the finances of older churchgoers. Many older Christians have lived their entire lives serving the Lord inside of church buildings. They have given from their hearts, many times sacrificially and also held afternoon church programs, bake sales, and other fundraisers to keep the church going and pay the preacher. Now that they are older and living on less money due to retirement many are being taken advantage of.
Seed sowing scam
The cover photo is one that breaks my heart because this elderly woman represents many who are falling for a scam. I watched for10 years as a number of older adults laid money at a church altar and they all died living on their social security retirement without receiving the blessing they were promised. I saw older family members struggling to give their tithe, and offerings as well as give in special services. I watched retired people slip a $20.00 in the pastor's hands regularly, expecting a double blessing that never manifested. It's shameful to think that spiritual leaders prey on the most vulnerable in their congregations by promising them what the Lord never delivers. In Acts chapter 2 the money that was laid at the Apostle's feet went to help those most in need. The money put at church alters today is given to peachers who are already living large and it comes from the pockets of those who can least afford it.
You can't get blood from a turnip
Some senior Christians trust that their pastors were hearing from the Lord and never question no matter what they hear. This is why there is a crisis in many churches where the older generation is passing away and young people are not filling the pews. Ministries that once had 200 or 300 working members are now down to 20 or 30 seniors who are living on decreased funds. Simple math should indicate that 20 people averaging less than $1,000 monthly cannot give the same amount of money as 200 individuals with decent jobs. In spite of this pastors around the nation are browbeating seniors who are barely able to keep food on their tables. Malachi chapter 3 is being enforced but even if the entire church tithed you will not have the same dollar amount with 20-30 members as you had with several hundred. You cannot get blood from a turnip and threatening these long-time faithful congregants with the curse of Malachi 3:8-10 is wrong.Older Christians are struggling to obey their pastors commands to give extra even when they don't have it.
The aftermath of COVID 19 has left many churches struggling and an alarming number have closed their doors. I have an elderly relative who is concerned the same thing might happen to the church that she attends. Some pastors are in panic mode and desperate to maintain their positions rather than look at their situations realistically. They are spending enormous amounts of time saying that everyone needs to give more and promising double blessings from the Lord. A quick assessment of the situation should open everyone's eyes to this fact. If the Lord were giving double for every dollar then the churches would not be in their current state. Christians in their 80s and 90s who have been giving money to the church for 60-70 years should realize that when the church was full they had programs and fundraisers. If the Lord were supernaturally blessing everyone who gave money with unexpected money during those past 60-70 years then the church coffers should be full. There are fewer people attending church now and in older congregations, the income has decreased along with attendance. Pastors know this and yet t try to guilt the few members they have into feeling like they are not doing enough. Another ploy which I have written about before is to call out the names of anyone who gives a big donation. This is a subliminal message intended to get others to give more. COVID 19 has caused even some good pastors to use manipulation tactics on their older congregants.
Misusing Malachi chapter 3, by promising blessing that God does not send, and threatening curses on senior citizens if they don't tithe is wrong. A number of older adults have health issues and must purchase expensive medication. They are barely able to make it each month and do not need to be made to feel they are shortchanging the Lord. In some churches, seniors struggle to put extra money in the hand of the pastor above and beyond his salary because they are told to sow seeds so God will bless them. They are told that selling and having programs to raise money is wrong and that if they just tithe God will take care of them. One senior who told me this happened in her church said that no one has seen the extra money that was promised. Now that they are not allowed to raise money and membership is decreasing the bank account is being depleted and they may have to only have church 2 Sundays a month. Another form of manipulation is telling them, congregants, that only a few in the church are really tithing or only a small number are carrying the church financially. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says to give as you have purposed in your own heart and not by compulsion. Each person's financial situation is different and no one should feel ashamed if they don't have the same dollar amount to give as someone else,
Older believers in Christ are worried because their generation is dying and the younger Christians are leaving traditional churches. These individuals have spent their lives serving the Lord and doing the best they can. They do not need to be yelled at and made to feel that the state of the church is their fault. A 90-year-old church goer told me her new pastor required the members to attend two services on Sunday and to serve breakfast in the first service to entice people to come. She said this was difficult for an aging congregation who were using walkers and canes and could not stand long. This is abusive and it's time these practices are discontinued.
Three ways that the experts say abuse manifests.
Are you being yelled at, insulted, or even sworn at.by your spiritual leader?
Are you doubting yourself and feeling that you are not doing enough to please the Lord?
Does your leader stop talking to those who he perceives as not giving enough? Does he no longer visit the sick or take communion to anyone who is not obeying his commands.,
If you leave church every Sunday feeling confused, rejected, ashamed, and as if you are failing God all based on what you hear from the pulpit you are being abused whether you are a senior member or not. If you are an older parishioner this makes it much worse because in the Bible the elderly were respected and not fleeced out of the money or mistreated when they did not give.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Cheryl E Preston
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on August 02, 2021:
Thank you so
Much for reading
Joanne Hayle from Wiltshire, U.K. on August 02, 2021:
This is such a shameful action, thank you for highlighting it and fighting for people whos voices aren't being heard or are being threatened in to silence. God doesn't come with a pricetag!
Margaret Minnicks from Richmond, VA on August 02, 2021:
Cheryl, you should forward this article to pastors and leaders who abuse seniors in their churches because they certainly do.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 02, 2021:
Seniors on limited incomes should never be shamed into giving more than they can afford or wish to give.
Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on August 02, 2021:
Hello minister Cheryl. I feel so grateful you are speaking out for one's whom may not be able to. This is shocking. I have never experienced seeing this towards our seniors and I hope I never do. People should leave church feeling loved and cared for. Our church that I have been attending for about five years, keeps offerings between you and the Lord. There are two boxes you descretly put your offering. Our pastor never tells his church members anything about the offerings. Only a few people know the amounts etc and they keep this private. Thank you for exposing something that we never think of. Take care :)
OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on August 02, 2021:
A wonderful piece... I copied out this "If you leave church every Sunday feeling confused, rejected, ashamed, and as if you are failing God all based on what you hear from the pulpit you are being abused whether you are a senior member or not." Because this is what was being repeated that led to my mother's depression and eventual death.
Pastors of today are money conscious such that they have been pushing people off faith...Good work Deaconess Cheryl. Regards to the brethren there.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 02, 2021:
I think it a heartbreaking situation when senior citizens are taken advantage of that way. Senior citizen abuse in a church is an awful example of what God would have anyone do as he clearly tells us how to live in the four Gospels. This is an important article, Cheryl.