We are in interesting times here in Christianity. There are more and more people starting to wonder if what they have been doing on Sunday mornings (along with Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, and youth nights) is really the point or pinnacle of their walk with God. The lack of relationship and community with others has stirred discontent among many. Along with several reasons, one aspect of why more people are starting to question the traditional organized church is they see that it is just like a worldly business. You know…CEO’s, board members, employees, salaries, retirement funds, vacation time, and so on. So the question is….should churches be run like business’s? I will tell you, that is the million dollar question because evangelicals will respond with….”how else is there to run a church?” Being so ingrained with the American Dream and pastorpreneurs that need to succeed because of “denominational seed money“, we can see why this is attractive. Not to mention that most people see prosperity as “favor” from God (of course the opposite is considered a curse), so whatever model, usually meaning a business, an organized church can use to look prosperous will usually be used to appear as “favor”. With most evangelicals these days being taught that building wealth brings financial peace then I can see why religious leaders want to run their organized churches as business’s and make a profit that can be used to expand the empire. But the real question is…”is this American approach to religion anywhere near the heart of the Father?” ……I would say no.
The next great question is….”if you know that you are making a profit from asking for money on Sundays to meet needs, is it ethical?” I use the word ethical to put it into the idea of right and wrong so we can ask ourselves another question….”Should churches be asking for 10% of a persons income, or more, when the church knows they are making more than they need?” Besides the fact that they are called “Non-Profit”, and are recognized that way by the IRS, one would think that Kingdom minded people would not ask for and keep more than the immediate needs. Would love ask for money from another to meet a need knowing full well that they will make a profit? I was talking with a great friend of mine the other night and they asked, “what if churches gave money back if they received more than they needed?” Is that even possible the way churches are operated today? Probably not!! As religious careers are now majors in colleges, and they are pumping out more and more professional christians, churches need to be structured like businesses to complete for talented people. Naturally, most talented people want to know that they have a progressive career ahead of them. According to Christianity Today, pay increases are all the rage in evangelical churches. They state,
“The 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, Christianity Today’s bi-annual survey of compensation levels based on 4,600 participating churches, shows senior pastors’ salary and benefits at an average $82,938 this year. This represents a 2.7 percent increase from the $80,745 average reported in 2010.
Now I understand that people need money to put food on the table, but a pastor getting paid almost $83,000 a year seems to be a little….I mean a lot….excessive. That doesn’t include if maybe the spouse is also on staff at the church, which I’m sure most are to increase the income…. or that doesn’t include housing allowances in most cases. Christianity Today also says that 50% of a churches budget, on average, is to salaries to the pastors and staff. I thought that all that giving was to give to the poor, the widows, and the marginalized? I guess if those pastors’s life-styles aren’t supported then they may become poor themselves and that does not line up with the “favor” mentality they need to appear to have….constantly. Let’s pay them first and whatever is left over…we can give 10% to the poor. So, the real point of churches is to pay salaries…right? To support the business of doing religion on Sundays? We can only reach the masses for Christ if there is money involved?
My point here is that evangelicalism is in the business of religion (and politics) and many church leaders are living large on those sermons that guilt people into believing that you have to give to God at your local church. I know….Jesus is talked about and the bible is read, but we cannot deny anymore that the ideology of wealth and prosperity have weaseled their way into the hearts and minds of evangelicals. Pastors pull out those Old Testament verses like in Malachi 3 that say to test the Lord on this matter. Give…Give…Give!!!….and then you sit back and watch how God will bless your life for the huge financial sacrifice you just made to the church leaders that then put the money in their bank accounts (did God sign for that account at the bank or what?). Hey, they may need to keep it in there for a rainy day……you know, just in case something comes up. Financial peace is huge at churches and most, if not all, want it. Why? Because if we have financial peace then God has blessed us and has given us His favor. Plus, whatever happened to the person that gave much of their life and nothing prosperous ever happened to them?
We need to get away from this Americanized, pragmatic view of churchianity. It’s all about money, money, money and it is disguised as “God has His hand on us”. Jesus said the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous alike. God loves all people including those who do not abide in Him. Our sad attempt to run religion like a business has put a patent on Jesus and the bible and they are being sold every Sunday morning for profit. I have said before….a church should not be measured by what it has but by what it does not have since it gave everything away. Money should be for meeting the needs among the Body of Christ, but instead it acts like the government and spends everything it gets (or keeps it in a savings account to invest) on salaries, benefits, vacations, programs to entertain, etc…. If a church is going to put the money it gets in the bank, why not let the people who gave the money just keep it in their own bank accounts? Church leaders seem to live in fear of the future…almost like they do not trust God to meet their own needs. It would be like pastors who have security guards because they fear death.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could rely on God to direct us as to where we should give and not give? Everything we own, including our incomes, belongs to God for those who walk in the Kingdom of God. So why do we give into the manipulative sermons on giving 10% and beyond when the pastor is building a 4 million dollar expansion onto their church? Is not giving to those in need (I mean directly to them , not to a religious organization that takes a percentage and then gives a little away) a much better way? Wouldn’t be nice if we all understood the words of Jesus that said to give to the poor, the needy, and the homeless? It’s time to rethink all of this. It’s time to see that people are fed up with the CEO mentality of pastors and religious leaders. It would seem wise to give where and when God tells you…not when or where another person says that claims they speak for God. This is an open topic that needs to be talked about openly among the Body of Christ. This conversation should never be confined to the four walls of a church business meeting where it can be controlled and suppressed. Everybody has the ability to talk openly about this….if you are told to be quite, then someone doesn’t want you to know where the money is going.