Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Money And The Church
Bud focuses on the enormous amounts of money that float through teministries, the dishonest approaches that most televangelists take to raising money, and how personally enriched those televnagelists are. Bud is absolutely right, but shooting at televangelists on this account is like shooting fish in a barrel. I thought everyone was wise to this stuff by now.
But this does raise a larger issue. Churches in general are increasingly being viewed as cash machines. That is to say that their performance is being measured in terms of things like cash flow, P&L statement, so forth. Now I am not against good accounting practice in a church, not by any means, but I am against using financial performance as a gauge of the success or failure of a church. We cannot afford to view the church from a purely financial perspective. It will almost automatically lead to corruption. I've seen it happen way too many times.
As I grow older, I am increasingly impressed with some of the things the Roman Catholic churchhas done. Among them is the relative poverty in which their clergy lives. The church as a whole may be the wealthiest institution in the world, but the men in it usually live quite modestly if not in an impoverished fashion. I think this wise. I have seen too many pastors grow their church for the sake of their salary.
Bud's series; however, points out the real tragedy in all this though, which is most of these money hungry religious institutions proclaim that blessings will be received through generous giving. This turns the church into some sort of cosmic lottery. That's just yucky, and it takes such advantage of some many poor people.
What really gets to me is that most churches do not tithe. They call the members to tithe, but they don;t do it themselves. What I mean by that is how many churches actually let 10% of their total income flow completely out of their control. Oh , there are quite a few that tithe to mission, but when you look closer that mission is a church budget line item, paying someone on staff's salary. Sacrifical giving is about giving up control.
Let me say that again, sacrificial giving is about giving up control. It is not about money, it is about trusting God -- not knowing that He will give you plenty, but relying on Him simply to pull you through. I wonder what would happen if a chruch really did that, really gave up financiual control to God?