Before reading this article, we need to make ourselves clear to our critics:
WE ARE NOT AGAINST CHRISTIANS GIVING MONEY TO GOD. WE ARE TO GIVE GENEROUSLY TO GOD.
The FBC Jax Watchdogs wrote an article on when to stop giving money to churches like Christian City Church,
Ten Commandments of When It May Be Time to Stop Giving Money to Your Mega Church
Readers – last month the Wartburg Watch posted an excellent article that included some basic rules or principles of when it is time for Christians to stop giving money to their local church. Their article was posted in the context of the Steven Furtick mansion story, but I am going to summarize these principles and add a few more of my own to make what I will call “The Ten Commandments of When It May Be Time to Stop Giving Money to Your Mega Church.”
I know many of you right now are rolling your eyes. You’re saying “There he goes again – telling people to not give to the church.” No, that is not what I’m saying. If you are a member of a church, you SHOULD support it financially. However, if you’re a member of a mega church and you see some of the following trends in YOUR church, perhaps God wants you to start using your money to make an impact in other areas. Perhaps God wants you to start channeling your resources into organizations that are more in line with the values of your Christian faith. Maybe God wants you to support your church at a lower financial commitment to free up money for you to give to other organizations.
Here is what the Dee and Deb at the Wartburg Watch said as they laid out their principles of when it is time to stop giving to your church:
“Are you, church contributor, vaguely discontented by what your money actually supports? Do you ever wonder if your money supports anything of eternal value? If you are a member of a church with a well paid pastor, and you see any of the following, maybe you should consider giving your money elsewhere.”
Here we go:
1. Stop giving if you cannot find out your pastor’s salary and compensation package. I’ve been saying this for six years. Complete transparency is essential. Most mega churches go to great lengths to keep salaries of the top dog ministers a dark secret, and for good reason. They know that if the average church member knew of the compensation packages of the pastor and his family, they would be so disgusted that many would stop giving altogether.
2. Stop giving if your well paid pastor lives better than most of the congregation. As Dee and Deb said: “Drive by his house. See what kind of car he drives. See what kind of vacation he takes. Think about it.” Of course, if he lives in a gated community it might be hard to drive by it, but you can look it up on Google maps and you can look it up on the property appraiser’s website. Don’t be ignorant on how well your Man of God lives using the money church members give for God’s work.
3. Stop giving if your pastor regularly complains about how hard his job is. I am sick of hearing mega church pastors complain about how hard their job is, and making statements like “you should try having my job for a day”….and you see them living a jet-setting lifestyle, and operating their church as a family business. If he complains about his job publicly to the congregation, you can bet he is going to be lobbying the trustees privately for even more mega-money to make his ministry more tolerable.
4. Stop giving when your money goes to more buildings, expensive equipment, and well-off pastors. If you see the money going to expand the church into other locations when the current location is at a fraction of capacity – at the same time they are ruthlessly firing underpaid faithful ministers – it might be time to reconsider your financial commitment to your church. Remember, giving to your church is NOT giving to God. Your mega church is a 501(c)3 religious business – you might be closer giving to God by giving to the Red Cross than to your church if they are using the money unwisely.
5. Stop giving money if your well paid pastor writes books on church time and then gets all of the proceeds. Many mega church celebrity pastors get paid to prepare their sermons as the most important aspect of their job – then they turn around and turn these sermons into books for which the profits go straight to the pastor and not the church.
6. Stop giving if your well paid pastor is double and triple dipping. Is your pastor constantly traveling during the week to speak and conferences and retreats? Does he regularly take time off to lead trips to Israel or luxury cruises? Does your pastor use church resources like the church website and church media resources to promote trips and cruises “with the pastor”?
7. Stop giving if your pastor operates the church as a family business, regularly hiring and promoting family members. Nepotism is rampant in almost every mega church in Jacksonville. Nepotism hurts an organization in the long run – especially those periods when there are staff reductions and the faithful, qualified long-time staff members get the boot while the pastor’s family members get a pass and maybe a promotion.
8. Stop giving if your church has developed a culture of silencing or shaming questioners. If leadership of your church expects people to just be sheep and blindly follow and fund the pastor’s “vision” – you might want to close your pocketbook. You might see regular church members telling other people on social media to not talk openly about the problems of the church, or accusing those discussing their concerns as spreading “gossip”, “innuendo”, and “vitriol”. Ignore them. Discuss the issues on social media. And use your checkbook to speak – it is the loudest voice you have, and the one that the leadership of church is most concerned about.
9. Stop giving if your pastor routinely tells you that you are obligated to “tithe to the storehouse” to receive God’s blessings and avoid God’s cursings. This is a recent phenomena in evangelicalism – trying to fool Christians into thinking they must fork over at least 10% of all their income to redeem their money, that God will “rebuke the devourer” if you give 10%. The reality is the New Testament calls Christians to give generously and cheerfully. You are free to give according to your conscience – and you are free NOT to give to your church but to other causes that are consistent with your Christian beliefs.
10. Stop giving if your church is super-focused on expanding their territory into wealthy areas of the city, and under-focused on helping the poor and needy in your city. Most – not all – mega churches have almost zero interest in helping the poor in their cities, but are interested in making land purchases and renovating their auditoriums and tapping markets of the wealthy.
Maybe you have a number 11. or 12. that you would like to add – if so I want to hear from you. Maybe you are a member of a church that exhibits some of these traits and you want to discuss it here. Maybe these don’t characterize your church and you want to tell us about it. Chime in.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Dee and Deb:
“How about rescue missions that reach out to the unloved? There are ministries that look after persecuted people groups or victims of human trafficking. I bet each of you know quite a few. I know such ministries would be thrilled with your donation and you might feel like your have done something worthwhile and eternal. Your money would actually do more good with these groups than the purchase of one more Bose speaker for Sunday morning.”
Source: By FBC Jax Watchdog, Ten Commandments of When It May Be Time to Stop Giving Money to Your Mega Church, http://fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/ten-commandments-of-when-it-may-be-time.html, Posted 24/11/2013. (Accessed 26/11/2013.)
Great article! Makes complete sense to me.
Here’s a Nr 11: Stop giving if your Church pastor acquires a Doctorate from anywhere other than a reputable, recognised (e.g. appropriately accredited) university.
It’s a clear warning sign they are only interested in their own image and status, while lacking the competency to acquire the designation on their own merit.
let’s just say I’ve seen #7 happen time after time after time, and it’s really bad. It’s almost sickening. Not naming names but it’s really wrong that family members get promoted and put on staff when there’s others who are as good or better in ministry but mum and dad wanna keep it in the family. by all means do it, I mean it’s your church, but realise your congregation can see through it and after a whole it stinks.
I’ve seen it happen at c3 but it’s not just there.
I concur. This happens not only in c3, ie Phil Pringle, Joe Pringle, (the MIA) Dan Pringle; happens with Brian Houston, Joel Houston…is there another one? Oh looks like it’s happening with the Sweetmans too!
Oh, and Joel “show us yer pearly whites” Osteen – he took over from his father.
I quote point 2 – “Drive by his house. See what kind of car he drives. See what kind of vacation he takes. Think about it.“
In addition to what Nimrod said, I’ve only got this in defence of some pastors, that if they have done the hard yards (which some have done), they should be adequately (and I mean adequately, not ridiculously) compensated, if their role dictates that.
Having said that – look at SAO’s – not the biscuit, but their namesake – Salvation Army Officers. They earn an absolute pittance compared to some pastors, and probably do as much if not more work.
I think I said before – it’s a shame so much conversation in this site is given to money, and not other doctrine discussion. But I suppose as you’re taught in c3, Jesus spoke more about money than any other subject, so it must be the most important, right?
We have other articles lined up that don’t deal with the issues of money. Hold on, they’re coming.
Oh yeah was just saying it’s a shame we have to rebut so much teaching and practices about money, ie 2 Tim 4:3
“For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.”
What if a pastor had a prior occupation that allowed him to earn money and invest wisely? Should a pastor be judged based on where he lives and what car he drives. I have read countless articles on this site that are driven by opinion rather than doctrine. If god is reaching people in a church and a community, what makes it of us to judge and start a smear campaign against pastors?
To quote Paul, “granted”. Then I would go on to say, what are they teaching in church about money and giving? Is it persuasive? Unbiblical? (See Kong Hee’s 9 reasons why Jesus wasn’t poor – if you ever want an example of blatant twisting of Scripture).
I would refer you also to point 4 – of course, you need to put in the best seating, biggest LCD’s, best this, best that. Fine, you go do that. The motives might be right, wanna build a big house of God so everyone from outside the church sees how flash it is and wants to come. Well I’m not sure if people are gonna walk off the street to see a nice church. At least none of my friends would. They’d rather slander Christ online with their atheist remarks. They’d rather go to the park on Sunday or recover from a hangover.
In the cases of some pastors, it’s not necessarily about their house size, ie Pringle, Furtick etc – it’s their ACCOUNTABILITY and financial transparency.
I don’t believe it is about accountability or financial transparency. The amount of negative posts and articles on this websites about churches that truly do reach communities and embrace the love of God is shocking.
“You will know them by their fruit.”
So rogerthat, you don’t mind of your pastor is not accountable to a board about his wage? How much he’s pocketing? If he’s favouring family members by giving them jobs and portfolios only because they want it kept in the family?
I’m not saying these churches don’t produce fruit. I’m saying why do these things go on? You can still be doing great community things yet still be unaccountable.
It’s not until you step outside of the box and look at the whole picture do you start questioning. Said it before – I’m not into accusing people falsely. But when I think there’s an injustice or partiality shown, then I have a problem with it. Did not Paul confront Peter?
“What if a pastor had a prior occupation that allowed him to earn money and invest wisely?”
So you think that Phil Pringle made a pile of cash working as a garbo and a postman, and that’s the reason he lives in a 3.5 million dollar house?
It seems like you are in the deepest denial, Rogerthat.
Do you have the report on the Dimitris sentencing from yesterday?
Sent from my iPad
I’m wondering how Dean Sweetman will spin that one, given his lack of judgement by, in Nick Dimitris’ own words, “standing [with them] in full support….”.
Out of interest, a question for Dean would be as follows: Nick Dimitris publicly states that you were in possession of all the facts. Given the evidence from the court hearings, under oath, did he lie to you or do you still believe him to be innocent?
I have some follow up questions if we can get an answer to that one…
I’ve just got a few comments about nepotism in the church. I am aware of quite a few situations around Australia (because of my travels over the last 30 years,) where a church that started off may well have started in the family home. This was particularly so with the early AOG’s here in Queensland. So, by default, they often became the leadership of that small fledgling group of new believers.
Properly taught and encouraged, the congregation would grow to the point where they needed a purpose built building for meetings and other functions. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this, but what often happened was that when “mummy and daddy” pastor retired, they often handed over the front door keys to their offspring.
Now insome instances this would have been the best case scenario, but in other cases the “pastor’s kids” either didn’t want to take it on, or it was just a job to them, and they made a hash of it. This can happen in any denominational setting, not just the Pentecostal churches.
I was in Adelaide in the late 1990’s and saw first hand the posturing and jockeying for position amongst the older set of pastors, who thought that they’d all be in the running for the ‘throne’ when Andrew Evans finally retired, but no siree! It was handed over to Ashley Evans on a platter – lock, stock and barrel (barrel of laughs…)
The silence was deafening for a few weeks after that, and those who were the ‘wannabees’ spoke to each other about retirement and other interesting alternatives. They too, finally realised that the Paradise AOG was just another Evans ‘family heirloom’ to be passed from father to son, ad infinitum.
In the best case scenarios, where some of the children have a calling to the ministry, people will be looked after properly, and there are (or at least were,) plenty of examples of that. But the kind of nepotism that has invaded the end time church goes far beyond handing over the front door keys of the assembly hall “to the kids”. What are being handed over today, are megachurch business empires, and if I were a pastor’s kid, I don’t think that I’d want anything to do with them.
The false prophets of Matthew 7:21-23 claimed miracles, prophecy and deliverance ministries, and Christ didn’t argue with them over their claims – he told them to depart from Him, as they were “workers of iniquity!”
He NEVER knew them – so it’s all about relationship and not about ‘success’ or works or prestige, or big buildings, and it’s certainly not about money. The “kingdom of God is [about] righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Ghost!” (Romans 14:17)
One thing I just can’t get my head around are the husband/wife senior pastor teams in the prosperity movement. From my experience one of the pair usually comes across as the real senior minister, and the other seems to have a senior minister position purely because they are married to the other. I assume both get paid Sr Pastor salaries and other benefits.
From my personal observation this seems to be a more recent phenomena (e.g. last 15 years or so). Prior to that a senior pastor would run a church, and the spouse (usually wife) would support them. But somewhere along the line this changed, and all of a sudden it was all about married couples. Scan C3 websites and you’ll notice the common theme.
If anyone has any ideas why that is please share. I can’t think of many other occupations where this seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Could you imagine boarding a plane and hearing the announcement “Hi this is your captain speaking. On today’s flight my husband will be the co-pilot. He is an accountant by trade, but he’s married to me so in case of emergency we should be ok. Enjoy the flight!
“If anyone has any ideas why that is please share.”
Snouts in the trough: double-dipping on income and allowances, and greater tax effectiveness for a given total household income (effectively speaking, income splitting).
Also probably for the marketing / promotional benefits accruing from a reciprocal halo effect whereby each partner basks in the (supposed) glory resulting from the (alleged) gifts / talents of the other.
Of course, it’s risible to see examples of “dynamic duo deceivers” spouting heretical claptrap in a tag team manner. A classic example of this is Phil and Christine Pringle: while it’s incontrovertibly true that Phil is not so much as a pastor’s bootlace, it’s even clearer that his addle-brained flipstack partner in crime – who presents as someone who has an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish – wouldn’t even make the grade as an aglet.
@Zorro: I was trying to be a bit more diplomatic rather than as direct but now that it’s out there…!
I’ve been going through some of the couples and as I mentioned, there’s half of the couple also referred to as a Senior pastor, but I can find little or no evidence of how their qualified to hold that position. Chris Pringle is an excellent example. Plenty of enthusiasm but I think it’s clear the only reason she gets to go on stage is because she’s married to Phil. I’m certain that there are a lot of people in the C3 congregation that who would be more able and qualified to preach. From what I’ve seen online apart from her enthusiasm she really is not very good at preaching. It’s a bit like watching your mad auntie at Christmas dinner stand up after after a few too many glasses of port and start telling stories to those present.
Maybe that could be a new C3 Churchwatch topic to look further into. The couples thing, not the mad auntie…
It will be interesting to see what will happen at C3 Asheville. Emily Dimitris holds the title of Senior Pastor, and I assume she receives salary and benefits for that (although it’s hard to check as the church financials are not transparent). However I have been unable to find very little evidence she actually fulfils that role. She seems to be involved in the church and few local charity type organisations but then again there’s no evidence of an actual day job. I assume she would be involved in the administration side however. Note: I can only go by the facts I find, if there’s a clip of tape of her preaching the house down I would love to see/listen to it and be proved wrong.
Anyway given her husband is going on extended leave her title would mean that she continues as sole lead preacher and councillor of the church. If she does then great, she really is a senior pastor. If C3 Asheville continues with guest pastors, or parachutes someone else in then the question should be asked how much has she been paid for not doing the job she was paid to do?
There are so many husband/wife combo’s in C3 I might just go a select a handful in random locations and see how they function and if there is indeed a pattern.
Also Zorro, all reasons you put forward are valid, but I think one main one that’s missing from your list is that it consolidates power and makes it very difficult for the leader of the church to be held to account or questioned. Hence the nepotism you see. I think you’ll find the Church Boards are also stacked with supporters and friends.
The Narrowing Path said:
I have posted this sermon “Christ and Money” before, but thought it worth posting again here. For churchwatchers who wants a biblical perspective on money, this is an excellent sermon from a humble, godly pastor who works much and earns little.
I’ve actually seen two extremes in this vein. On the one hand, you’ve got the more traditional church, where the pastor/reverend/minister does all of the work assisted by the board (of deacons, elders or whatever,) and his wife stays right out of any ‘ministry’. She may show up at the church fete once a year, so you know what kind of church I’m talking about here – obviously the ‘non-tithing’ type.
Then you’ve got the other extreme where the wife is co-pastor, co-equal (whether you readers are complementarians or not, this happens,) and quite often can be quite bossy too, even to the point of “role reversal” in some cases, where she ‘wears the pants’ and he preaches once a week and that’s it! Hen pecked ministers…
What seems to have happened is a flow on from the American religious model, where married couples both have ‘ministries’ of their own and their pet topics, but the both draw an income, and even often speak at seperate conferences and rallies and for the ladies, special women’s conferences (secret women’s business) where men are banned. Then there’s the books, CDs and DVDs as value added ministry…
Some folks put this down to the emancipation of women to the point where some of them border on “Christian Feminism” – a complete contradiction in terms, but it’s all down to the kind of example that Australian churches have had, and that they were/are willing to be lead around by the nose by imported ministries, who are peddling the “latest thing in God”. You’ve only got to look as far as Joyce Myers and Cindy Jacobs, as two examples of this – borderline if you ask me!
I don’t have a problem with women in some ministry positions, and I certainly don’t believe that women should be treated like second class citizens in the church – that is usually a hallmark of the cults, as both Christ and the apostles treated women with dignity and respect.
Finally, for some ‘ministry teams’ it could simply be a convenient way of doubling their income – maybe it is al about the money for some.
The Narrowing Path said:
When godly men lead their congregations, themselves led by the Holy Spirit, I notice women are treated with dignity and respect. I see women in my church joyfully submitting to the leadership of godly men in our church, whilst also contributing in all aspects of church life. They don’t preach, but their gifts, talents and wisdom are an integral part of the church and its witness.
Recently, I have seen Christ’s love shining out from the godly men and women in a way I have rarely witnessed before. It has been a blessing to me in so many ways I can’t really explain it here, but to see the Holy Spirit of God at work in believers is a great encouragement. It makes me sad to think how few people have seen this in action.
In relation to ‘Christian feminism’ I see much damage being done by dominant women taking up positions of power within churches. Since this is my own personality tendency, I understand the temptation. I see a lot of ‘Imelda Marcos syndrome’ going on in the church. Women holding the real power, and buying lots of expensive shoes.
To illustrate my point, check this guy out:
Now, if you are going to read this, make sure you read right to the end of the article, past the mention of the Young’s ‘palatial mansion’ and Ed’s view that what matters is ‘how much you give’. If you can stomach it, read right to the end, where he likens himself to other ‘transcendentally wealthy’ people in the Bible, like Abraham, David and Solomon. My, what sharp teeth you have, Pastor Ed.
Apparently Pastor Ed also has the following blog:
I have included these links to show that this is not unique to C3. I am guessing this guy has his own Imelda pulling the strings and wearing the floral pants. Apparently they had an actual lion and lamb at their ‘Easter’ service. As my friend said, that ‘could have been a killer service”. 😉
Ladies and gentlemen of the apostolic faith, this ain’t biblical.
I’d make one notable exception here – for the Salvation Army corps I’ve known and been to, the Captains (man and wife) and both involved. Thought remember, this kind of church and their outlook is completely different to most we are talking about. And the income they earn. There are no books by Captain Smith for sale in the auditorium. Actually there’s usually no bookshop.
In other news, and I hope this doesn’t offend anyone. I once heard from a very well-know old school Australian pastor say about women preaching – “It’s like a dog standing on its hind legs; it’s not natural but they can do it”.
Folks, I hate to sound so cynical, but I was reading a blogsite over the weekend which stated that a lot of the younger generation of “ministries” in America today, have come out of Fuller Theological Seminary.
Dozens of them, apparently, and they are the very ones behind the current push towards Emerging/Emergent church stuff, and some of these, the more prominent ones, are part of the push towards ecumenism, the global church (WCC) while at the same time,facilitating behind the scenes mergers through Interfaith – a veritable religious Tower of Babel.
Is it any wonder when these people gain high positions within Christendom, that “pastors” at the local level are undiscerning? These speakers, ‘prophets’ and others like them, have all been OKed by headquarters, and God help ‘headquarters’, if they get it wrong, because everybody all the way down the ‘food chain’ will get it wrong too.
Looks like a plan to me – a plan that has been 40 years in the making.
‘glad I’m part of “plan B” ‘
The Narrowing Path said:
‘Plan B’ is it, brother. Count me in.
Whoa. I started to read a post about giving money to mega churches and it finished with pitchforks. I will take my little girls to a church that teaches them the real principles of Jesus – we are all equal in Christ. WWJD..
The Narrowing Path said:
BenJ, I would be willing to consider constructive feedback on my own comments but see no pitchforks in them. Out of deep concern for the Body of Christ I make comments here, as I get very cross when my beloved brothers and sisters are led astray with false teaching and subject to spiritual abuse. Leaders behaving badly in churches should stir up righteous anger!!
If you are referring to someone’s comments in particular (including mine), please call them out specifically and in love. None of us are perfect, and there are some hurting souls here at this blog. Some here have had terrible experiences of the ‘fruit’ of false teaching and may seem strong in their comments. But please, don’t miss the key message…there is heinous deception in the church, and it is shipwrecking people’s faith. The Scriptures are clear that this will happen, and that we are to speak out. And ‘WWJD’ to me is a tired, abbreviated retort that seems very disrespectful to our Lord and Saviour. You may not intend it that way, but may I suggest that if you see something unbiblical in the comments here, it would be more helpful to be specific.
Perhaps listen to the sermon link I posted here to get a different message about money, straight from the Scriptures. This sermon addresses what our Lord says about money…as for what He would do, it certainly isn’t any of the things we see ‘mega-church’ pastors doing. Truly, it isn’t.