I believe that the role of the Evangelical church is to help people to come to an awareness that the dominant narrative of greed, denial, anxiety, self sufficiency and so on will never give you what you want so come over to this world of trust, abundance and TRUTH TELLING, and that one will give what you want for safety and joy. If the church is faithful to that than our way of being in this world contradicts the way the world wants us to be. Now the problems is that most of us want to have it both ways but the scriptures tells us that nobody can't serve two masters. The church is a place where the covenant people gather around the God of the Gospel who is going to give you a different life. I find it hard to believe that buying mansions, not disclosing financial statement details such as the pastor's salary and so on it is far a part of the Gospel's world. By the way Tyler, DLP's comment was not taken out of context. To believe that Jesus was targeting the money changers at the temple by overthrowing their tables is to misunderstand the text. We as Christians know who the real targets were. If not ask Mr. Furtick, he knows.
Great article Erin! It baffles me how vocal Christian leaders can be when it comes to issues like gay marriage, abortion, etc. but when it comes to money... mum's the word. Jesus was unequivocally clear regarding his feelings about the rich. Why do so many Christians continue to ignore those parts of the Bible?
Sigh, if only you could reply directly to comments. DLP, your use of Matthew is so out of context...
1) Giving 10% goes all they way back to Genesis - "Then Jacob made a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.' " - Genesis 28: 20-22
2) Jesus came to fulfill the law and never spoke against this in any of the New Testament. Not to mention, the money changers weren't collecting tithes, but extorting pilgrims and the poor with over-priced livestock for the burnt offerings they needed.
3) Tithing is meant to sustain the entire church in all of its financial needs not just the salary of a pastor.
...Now, with all that being said. There is a history of independent, non-denominational churches running into issues for fraud and embezzlement because there is no true accountability structure or transparency. I love watching Elevation online and pray that they can change to a more open financial model. The work they are doing is really amazing and should not be overshadowed by stories like this.
The purpose of giving to the church is not to pay a pastor's salary and fund a pastor's unaudited (unlimited?) budget. Yes, the staff of the church needs to be paid, but the purpose of tithing is to fund the work of the church. And the allocation of those funds -- from paying the electricity bill, to funding community organizations, to helping people who are in distress -- is decided BY the church -- by the members of that congregation, who hold each other accountable. Not solely by a pastor. All is -- and should be -- transparent. I don't understand this cloak-and-dagger approach to Elevation's finances. Churches must avoid even the hint of impropriety -- to avoid creating the appearance of greed and further driving people away. Yes, some things need to remain confidential ie. donors who wish to remain anonymous. But a church's books should be without reproach.
Our pastors need not be paupers. What kind of people would we be if we demanded our ministers and their families live in poverty, and all of the stress and hardship that comes with that? I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. But -- Elevation's finances and pastor compensation reeks of excess and inappropriate boundaries, at the very least. It is very concerning and alarming for other churches, that this kind of behavior taints their mission and work.
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