Feature: Know Your Members

Scriptures abound that encourage believers to give to support the work of God. A careful read of the Bible will lead you to the conclusion that God intended His children to be wealthy. Jesus Christ was supported immensely by followers who were resourceful. Christians are thus to give to support the kingdom of God and the welfare of other believers.
Pursuant to this believers are also admonished to get wealth genuinely. God cannot accept any offering. He is concerned about the source of the wealth as in the usage of the wealth itself.
Organizations like banks and other financial institutions undertake Know Your Customer (KYCs) to enable them know who they are dealing with. It helps them to verify the identity of clients. KYCs are also undertaken to check bribery and corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing. These have become the norm the world over as nations are being wrecked by bribery and corruption and terrorist financing. Banks and other financial institutions are secular organizations who will engage in practices that safeguard their interest. In the same way churches and other religious sects also do things that promote their interest and protect their image.
The need to know the identity of the persons behind donations in church may be something worth looking at. In the Bible the early believers gave massively towards the work of God and towards the needs of others. There is no doubt these believers were genuine and engaged in legitimate business. There were high standards they had to meet even when it came to disclosing the amount they had, out of which they were giving as was made clear in the case of Ananias and Saphira.
Concerns have been expressed about the source of the money that is contributed towards religious organizations and their activities recently. Churches have been accused of accepting into their fold anyone who has wealth and riches. Some are giving leadership positions to occupy as a result of their affluence. It is just as if once you have money you will be given prominence in the church and given high places to sit.
Dr. John F. Avanzini a renowned Biblical economist in his book “The wealth of the wicked”, makes it clear that we are living in an age where there is a transfer of the wealth of the wicked into the hands of God’s children. Christians are going to be rich like never before. Yes, according to him this is in line with God’s final move to populate heaven. This transfer is basically for one purpose: the evangelization of the world. The world can be evangelized if believers are endowed financially. The financial endowment of every church comes from the tithes, offerings and donations from members.
How do religious organizations ensure the people who are giving in church to support the evangelization of the world got their wealth genuinely? What mechanisms can be put in place to know the identity of members in a church? Is this even worthwhile?
Romans 14:4says, “Who art thou that judges another man’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Yea, he shall be held up: for God is able to make him stand “The above point is further strengthened by the thirteenth verse of the same chapter which says“Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. “The above assertions may be argued forcefully against any move by churches to do background checks on their members.
Cost of such an undertaking have to be considered as well. In the financial circles cost of KYCs is high. Millions are being spent  to know customers. The cost is likely to make such an undertaking by churches to be burdensome. So many churches will not even bother to undertake such an exercise as long as they are likely to incur cost.
How then should someone be subjected to any form of investigation just because he wants to contribute towards the evangelization of the world? I am sure quite a number of people will be scared from giving if something like a KYC is introduced in church.
Requiring churches to do background checks may also be asking too much. Some may argue that the core mandate of the church is to preach and shepherd souls for heaven and should not be concerned about how members make money. This albeit should be juxtaposed with the need for members to protect the image of the church. Whatever that may bring the name of the church into disrepute must be avoided.
No true church of Christ would like to associate with someone who engages in illicit trade or any other work that the bible frowns upon.
Whether, churches may see a KYC as important or not, the image of the church is at stake and should be considered so as not to bring the church into disrepute.
Source: Kofi Dapaah | kfdapaah@yahoo.com |Ghana

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