MONEY MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND? (By Patrick Burk )
I am so encouraged about sharing ideas and creating dialogue about topics that have always been of issue to me. In fact, I think that discussion and discovery of ideas leads us all on a more enlightened journey. I find that by sharing, I too receive and that has been true with these blog entries as well. With all that being said, I think this may be a tough one.
Does anyone else out there feel uncomfortable with the large amounts of money that many of today’s ministries and churches are amassing? A friend of mine went to a service in a church near Buffalo, New York and was amazed that the dollar amount that was raised to “Lift up the word of the Lord” was announced at the end of the service. It started him thinking about the whole dollars and cents of religion.
Together we looked into the church in question and found out some very strange things. Many members of the church were not aware that the church covered significant expenses for those that “worked ” for the congregation. In fact, the minister’s wife was allowed a monthly clothing allowance although no one ever saw her do anything but sit in the front of the church for each service.
Knowing some of the individuals that attend this church on a regular basis, I asked if they knew just how much money went to the minister and his family and did they ever see or receive a financial report? They did remember seeing financial statements for the church but did not recall many specifics. They also didn’t remember how much went for personnel of expenses of church officers. Now all of this may be normal. We did find out that significant amounts went for personal expenses such as trips, clothing, cars, gasoline and resident’s utilities. I am sorry if this offends, but I did not see the connection to serving the Lord and the need for a cashmere scarf.
What all of this points out is another answer of why some people do not attend church. There is simply a lack of trust in organizations that profess the need to include money or tithing as a main component of worship. Now my familiarity with many churches and our local organizations does point to the fact that most of the church’s finances are scrutinized and do indeed go where the money is stated it goes. I see no one getting wealthy off of a congregation here. How do we explain however, the vast number of “televangelists” and “star powered pastors” that live in million dollar homes, have wonderful cars, wear expensive clothing and still have long running telethon type prayers shows begging for money to have your prayers heard? It is a shame that this still happens. People sending thousands to ministries to have prayers heard or to get on certain lists or to obtain a relic or blessed vile of water, this is to many the reality of today’s religion. And who could blame them for thinking it?
Now, I am not talking about the local pastors that work for small amounts of money and have all the same expenses that a normal family has. They are due their fair, negotiated wage. What does upset many is the “NEED” for a Brand New Hummer or a $4500 Coat or a Million-Dollar Home, the fruits of asking for their members to give until it hurts to “lift up the word of the Lord.” There is one current televangelist that believes that they are entitled to these things so that his followers will see that the Lord provides for those that are righteous and doing the Lord’s work. Doling out millions to make a pastor look good does nothing to ‘Lift up the Word of the Lord”. God does not care if you praise him in Gucci Loafers or your bedroom slippers. Does that mean that the struggling family, with small children, who are gracious and giving and kind, but who also have to scrimp and go without are not righteous enough? The answer to all who want wealth is to continue to pray for wealth and God will provide? And yet there are millions who pay to pray each day.
It is this mentality that has turned so many people off and yet the television has for years exploited good people into tithing for prayer. The Catholic Church used to have tithing for atonement and forgiveness in the dark ages. No wonder so many get discouraged to belong. They feel it is just better to stay on the fringe rather than get taken. I think there is a lot of merit in the quote that “Religious Service is a devotion, not a profession.” Being a Christian or participating in church should not be money driven.
I hope I offend no one by saying that I will keep my prayer time to praying for peace in the world and those in need. I’ll still look at the big buck television crowd of “pastors” with tons of suspicion and I’ll GO TO WORK to find my cash!