2/25/2015

10 Signs of a Money Hungry Church



In a recent post, since the Bible has many sayings that warn against "the love of money," and being so successful that you "gain the whole world but lose your own soul," I thought it was appropriate to write about 10 Signs You Might Love Money.  Today, I thought it would be appropriate to expand on this topic, and provide a list of 10 signs that demonstrate that your church has a problem with the love of money.

My insight from this post comes from years of having served in just about every capacity of the church, both in big churches and small churches. In the process, it has been my observation that few things hinder a church from being all that God has called it to be more than a love of money, and yet at the same time, fewer sins are so casually dismissed among leaders in the church.

Yet fewer sins will ruin a church and ministry more than their love for money.  Therefore, if we care anything about God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the people we are trying to reach, we ought to guard our collective hearts from the love of money.

10 Signs of a Money Hungry Church:

1. A general lack of financial transparency:  If members of the church aren't freely allowed to "see the books," and aren't provided a detailed financial accounting of the amount of income the church receives, and where it spends its resources, then your church has something to hide.

2. If the pastors total compensation package is a secret, or known only to a few people, then the church likely hides his compensation because it knows most people would find his salary extravagant, and such would undermine his credibility and authority.

3. If the pastor regular drives a new car, has a large house (which few members ever visit!), is regularly changing his wardrobe out for the latest in fashion, and frequently sports a new hair-cut,  then these are all signs of not only great affluence, but the entitlement mentality that comes with wealth.

4.  If a large percentage of the elders, deacons, teachers, or lay-leaders are affluent businessmen and retirees.  Many churches these days have a "pay to play" attitude.  That is, if you wish to be in a position that influences the life of the church, you need to give a significant amount of money on  a regular basis in order to do so.  Because, an increasing number of churches these days bar those who don't give "above and beyond" from official ministry within the church, then church leadership is generally composed of those who can "afford" to give.  These men are often awarded positions of leadership in the church, knowing such will keep them "invested" in what goes on, and guarantees a regular source of revenue.

5.  If your church has a regular devotional message that accompanies the offering taken up during a worship service.  This is often done with accompanying music playing in the background.  Officially, it is typically said that this is done to provide a "worshipful" atmosphere in giving, and to incorporate it into the general flow of a worship service.  But in truth, this is usually done as a subtle form of manipulation.  It's the equivalent of playing a sad Sara McLachlan song during a ASCPA commercial.  Once your heart strings are plucked, your purse strings often are too.

6. If your church or denomination makes "tithing" one of its fundamentals of faith or part of its core practical values, then money is clearly at the heart of the organization.  Frankly, as Christians we should be offended that right up there with major doctrines like the deity of Jesus Christ, doctrines associated with "giving" are listed as a fundamental of the Christian faith.  While giving is very important in the life of the church, I can think of many other spiritual disciplines that are more essential to her health.

7. "Sacrificial giving" towards the church is encouraged, especially around Christmas time, and shortly after New Years. This is done, after all, to compete with the money you might otherwise spend at Target, and to capture as much income from the larger than normal size of the crowds typically visiting at Christmas time.  It is also done after New Years in order to take advantage of your all your new resolutions, or tax refund money you might get from the IRS.

8. The church never encourages you to give directly to the poor, and is upset if you "tithe" your income towards ministering directly to the poor.  After all, every good theologian knows that the local church is the "storehouse"  that you are to "bring" your tithes, and "give" your offerings at.  If your church in any way monitors your level of giving, and your pastor is deeply concerned about where you give your money to, then this is a major sign that your church loves money.  A pastor should have almost no knowledge of who personally gives what and where in the church.

9. The heavy use of creative arts, stage props, and technology in worship services and in preaching:  If Sunday morning often resembles a rock concert, such requires a ton of dollars to facilitate, and often a small army of professionals.  Such flashy services make the church highly dependent upon wealth to maintain its essential functions.  The monthly light bill for such a worship experience can often be thousands upon thousands of dollar in order to function.

10.  If the church has a large amount of debt, and/or takes out large lines of credit in order to help fund building programs, then this is a big red flag.  There is nothing that says "I love money" more than borrowing cash.  Such puts incredible financial burdens upon churches, and with it, opens the doors for incredible spiritual abuse by those in leadership.  Such requires the church to start acting more and more like a business, and less like a family, in its daily life.  In your personal finances, there is almost no excuse for excessive levels of personal debt.  In the corporate life of the church, this is also true.  Yet many ministries find themselves deeply in debt.  They are doing it "in faith" of course to support some big "vision."  But such an excuse does not make it ok.

1 comment:

  1. #9, if the pastor knows his trade, he can get the best professionals to work for almost free. I have seen project were the pastor barely paid 30%, both funds and labour was voluntary and donations.

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