Cashing In On Relationships (Part 1)

It appears greed did not even spare religious groups in the Aman Futures pyramiding scam. 

Just the other day, a joint-team by the NBI and the PNP raided the house of a certain Pastor Rolando Lilio in T’Boli, South Cotabato who allegedly worked as an agent of Aman. “Witnesses say people who wanted to invest in Aman used to line up outside Lilio's home.” (Source: ABS-CBN News) However, Lilio claimed that he is also a victim, “saying he has a son in Pagadian City who encouraged all of them to invest with the company.” (Ibid) 

Then, according to another report, “The [double-your-money] scheme was so attractive that even a religious group pooled in its members’ money. Pastor Hipolito Paner of the Christ the Lord of Glory group said at least 1,000 of their members managed to raise P800 million and put it in Aman.” (Inquirer.Net)

LATEST NEWS: Pagadian church threatened by scam victims


I’m afraid that such acts of individuals have tarnished not only their testimony but other churches’ as well. To prevent similar sad incidents from happening again, allow me to share what one evangelical mega-church here in Metro Manila implemented as policy. You may adopt the same guidelines in your community of faith.  

GUIDELINES FOR PROTECTING THE INTEGRITY OF THE CHURCH, ITS LEADERS AND MEMBERS

I. BASIC PHILOSOPHY

  1. The church gathers primarily to fulfill its mission.

  2. The church, when gathered, should never be viewed as a venue for any business other than God’s.

II. OBJECTIVES

  1. To keep all our ministries focused on the fulfillment of our mission and vision and to keep them as far away as possible from any scandals and distractions.

  2.  To ensure that the leaders and members remain above reproach at all times and their motivation in the conduct of ministry is not tainted by a desire for financial gain.

  3.To prevent the devil from disgracing the name of the Lord and causing divisions or quarrels among Christians and the seekers from having any grounds to question our motive in sharing the Gospel or in ministering to their needs.

III.GUIDELINES

1. As a rule, there should be no commercial business transactions of any kind before, during or immediately after church activities such as worship services, bible studies, small group meetings, retreats, prayer meetings or any other spiritual activities both inside and outside our premises.

This guideline covers activities that take advantage of the Church’s structure and of personal relationships derived there from. Stated plainly, we should not take advantage of our spiritual ties to one another and to the church to make money.

In view of this, the following are clearly covered:
·      Selling of goods and services (except those authorized by the church, e.g. Bibles, etc.)
·      Inviting or recruiting people to a business
·      Making presentations or sales pitches
·      Business advertising, e.g. leaflets, posters, etc., except when authorized by the church
·      Referring a member as a sales prospect without his or her specific permission
·      Solicitations (except those authorized by the church)

We realize that there will be activities that will fall at the borderline of the guidelines. For example: conveniently delivering products during worship services, bible studies, small group meetings, etc., making appointments to transact business later, etc.

In all those cases, the question to ask is: “Am I taking advantage of my relationship with my brother or the Church in doing this?” If you are not sure, please consult any of the pastors.

2. In particular, we encourage those in leadership positions such as pastors, deacons or small group leaders to carefully evaluate their involvement in business activities (especially those that result in financial gain for the leader) with the people within their accountability that might be seen as violating the spirit of Guidelines No. 1.

3. Likewise, we encourage small group members to carefully evaluate their involvement in business activities with members of the same small group that might be seen as violating the spirit of Guidelines No. 1.

(To be continued) 

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