First Baptist Church of Rahway, 177 Elm Ave., Rahway, New Jersey 07065 is a multi-cultural congregation that has a Blended English Service on Sunday Mornings, a Latino Service at 12:00, and a Service in Telugu at 3:30PM. For more information, call (732) 388-8626. Or click here to send an email. If you wish to help the Mission and Ministry of First Baptist financially click the Donate Button.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Mega-Church Pastors, A Brood of Vipers
If you want to read something that will turn your stomach, take a look at this article in Forbes Magazine. It’s about the five richest Mega-Church ministers in Nigeria. These guys are financially raping their poor parishioners and flying around the world in private jets. It is absolutely disgraceful. These words that Jesus said two thousand years ago are just as applicable today; “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matt 23:25-26).
Rich Nigerian ministers are not the only ones who are greedy and self-indulgent. Many Mega-Church pastors in the USA are living lavish lifestyles on the backs of their parishioners and ignoring basic codes of conduct and ethics. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) is an accreditation group that sets standards for responsible nonprofit organization stewardship; board governance, financial transparency, integrity in fundraising, and proper use of charity resources. Thank the Lord many large churches belong to this organization and follow its mandates. However, you might or might not be surprised to find out who isn’t.
Transparent finances are a must for any non-profit organization. At the bare minimum, all of the church’s financial records should be available to the membership. Apparently not for the following fabulously successful missions (link); Creflo Dollar Ministries; New Birth Missionary Baptist Church (Eddie Long), Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Without Walls International Church (Randy and Paula White). Not only can’t a parishioner and/or contributor get financial records from these organizations but the Senate Finance Committee was blown off as well. They’re not the only ones of course, they are just the most noticeable. As their ministers fly around the world in private jets, drive amazing cars and live in fabulous mansions, is it any surprise that they don’t want their people to know their compensation packages?
Ministers should not ask for donations to pay their salaries, and sell books to their contributors at the same time. This is in the covenant of standards that I signed when I because a minister. It is not ethical to make money off of the people who pay my salary. Take a look at Creflo Dollar’s bookstore website. While selling lot’s of books, there is also a request for donations. Now if either the book sales or the donations are going to a specific cause, then that is not an ethical violation. However, since the website doesn’t say where the money is going, and we don’t know the finances of this ministry, it is possible that a lot of the money is going into the man’s pockets. Big church or little, if a pastor is selling something to his/her parishioners and pocketing the money, then he/she is a total sleaze.
Many of these ministries do not release the names of the governing boards. Many of them have their employee’s sign confidentiality agreements. The Senate Finance Committee found instances of fear and intimidation when requesting information from the ministries. All of these issues raise a red flag for these churches. But the law gives non-profits a great amount of latitude. None of these ministries have broken the law, unless congress changes it.
However, you can do something about it. You can demand fiscal and ethical accountability at your church. You can demand transparency of spending and decision making. You can demand that your church acts within the guidelines of the ECFA. And if the leadership tells you to get lost, you should leave and go to a church that is run by basic ethical standards. Don’t get ripped off by wealthy ‘teachers of the law’ who are just a bunch of hypocrites.
Pastor Bill Whitehead