Relentless Church recently gave permission for people there to take what they needed from the offering baskets and keep it.
In a late November sermon, pastor John Gray told his congregation: “But God told me after we collected offering to leave it at the altar. And then let those who had needs get what they needed from the offering baskets.”
Gray called veterans, widows, single mothers and fathers to the front of his church.
It’s not clear if the open offerings will be ongoing. Gray’s church did not respond to a request for comment.
The idea has both risks and rewards, said Chuck Fuller, an associate professor of Christian studies at Anderson University.
Fuller said the new move may help project an image of a truly giving, selfless and open community, “an idealized version of Acts 2, perhaps.” And it also helps to give a feeling of common trust, that members trust each other to understand that individual needs are part of the common good, he said.
However, people who give may end up becoming reluctant to give without oversight, Fuller said. He quoted New Testament passages that encourage oversight of offerings.
Fuller said he anticipates it would work better in a small group, with the needs and abilities clear to everyone. The risks of greed and corruption could outweigh the benefits of the plan for a larger group, he said.
Relentless Church is both an established church and new.
It was formerly known as Redemption Church. Its founder Ron Carpenter left six months ago to lead a church in California. Gray, who was then a pastor at Joel Osteen’s Texas church, came to Greenville and renamed the church.
In announcing the offerings, Gray highlighted that he has only been in Greenville for six months and made the decision on a leap of faith rather than relying on a large savings account.