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Money Makers

A pastor friend of mine related this story. On their way home from church one Sunday, his ten year old daughter quizzed him. She said, “Daddy, that story you told today…was that really true or was it just preaching?” A little girl, wise beyond her years; for so much of what we hear as preaching may be just that…preaching, not truth!

How about those who run orphan’s ministries? Do they pull at your heartstrings to give while they live in wealth? If they loved those children so much wouldn’t you think they would forgo those big salaries and perks and use them for the kids? Some try to defend pastors’ and evangelists’ huge salaries by saying they could make much more if they were in the corporate world. No one in any industry is paid according to what he could make in another industry. Look at professional athletes or movie stars, who in another profession, often can not make a living and end up broke.

What about those ministries that claim God will multiply any monies you send them? Doesn’t common sense teach you that if they believed their own preaching they would be the biggest givers? They would be looking for other ministries to give their money instead of begging their audience to give to them.

Some of the big name TV preachers’ salaries are hidden from public view because their organizations get I.R.S. designations as churches. What can be documented are their lavish lifestyles. Some live these types of lifestyles to verify their health, wealth and happiness theology. It is not uncommon to find mansions, fancy cars, planes, 2nd and 3rd homes in resort areas and all with six-figure incomes.

I am not suggesting that one must take an oath of poverty when they enter the ministry, but I am suggesting that one be open and above board when it comes to money. The first requirement for deacons was “honest report” (Acts 6:3.) Should pastors be any less? For the pastors, we read that they were to be “not greedy of filthy lucre” (1 Timothy 3:3) or even “given to filthy lucre (Titus 1:7.)

The examples given of God’s people in scripture certainly do not coincide with the opulent lifestyles of today’s religious personalities, whether on TV or in mega-churches. To offset any criticism, these personalities have argued that Jesus was a wealthy Person. How do we know better?

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes HE BECAME POOR, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 (caps mine)

Paul, a successful Pharisee, certainly took a cut in pay when He chose to follow Christ.

“As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; AS POOR, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” 2 Corinthians 6:10 (caps mine)

Another argument defending the wealth of these individuals is that the income is derived from their books, tapes, CDs, i.e., individual effort or performance. Where do you suppose they wrote these books? How much of the ministry’s time, equipment and staff were used in preparing these “to sell” items? It was the church or TV exposure that made their sales so profitable. This is like the manager of Whataburger claiming he is entitled to all the profits of his store, not the company or other employees. In major companies (and I assume God’s work is major,) inventions, systems, improvements pertaining to company are property of the company, not the individual’s.

The Bible teaches that giving is judged by what you keep, not what you give (Mark 12:42-44, 2 Corinthians 8:1-15.) If one’s income is $100,000 per year and he gives 10% or even 20%, maybe even 50%, he still has more to live on that the person who makes $30,000 per year and gives 10%. This certainly is not the equality that Paul called for. As Timothy said, “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10) caps mine. Money not evil, but the love of it, is. Judas sold out Christ for money (Mark 14:11.) The rich young ruler went to hell because of his money (Matthew 19:22.) Today’s religious gurus make many false statements regarding money. Rick Warren, a great leader (?,) but a lousy Bible student said “This is why Jesus taught more about money than He did about either heaven or hell (page 277; The Purpose Driven Life.) As I said, he is either a lousy Bible student or not real dedicated to the truth. Heaven appears 140 times in the gospels alone, (hell appears 14 times, eternal punishment once, eternal fire twice) for a total of 17 references to hell;) money is mentioned 16 times.

Obviously, these people do not need that much money. The average income in the U.S. is $45,000 a year, which means many live on less. Why would a servant of God need to make more, especially since they are furnished with perks of all kinds. They receive many gifts from admirers. One wealthy pastor claimed his two Rolls Royces were given to him. One of my former pastors returned a new Mercedes because of how it would look to his poor members. Guess which one of these two men was a soulwinner.

Rick Warren boasts of returning his salary to the church, but he only did that after he became a multimillionaire. He certainly was not giving from his poverty. Again, it is not how much one gives, but how much one keeps!

God gives a warning to these types of ministries and also to the people who give to them.

You may be interested in checking the salaries and income of the following:

  • Mike Barber – Prison Ministry
  • Church Colson – Prison Fellowship
  • Paul and Jan Crouch – Trinity Broadcasting Network
  • Kenneth Copeland
  • Creflo Dollar
  • Jerry Falwell Billy Graham –
  • Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
  • Franklin Graham – Samaritan’s Purse
  • John Hagee – Cornerstone Church
  • Hank Hanegraaff – Christian Research Institute
  • Benny Hinn
  • Joyce Meyer
  • Peter Popoff – Peter Popoff Ministries
  • Pat Robertson – CBN
  • James Robison – Life Outreach
  • Dennis Rydberg – Young Life
  • R.C. Sproul – Ligonier Ministries
  • Wes Stafford – Compassion International
  • Charles Stanley – In Touch Ministries
  • Richard Stearns – World Vision

The low man on this list made $195,500 per year in 2005. (www.forbes.com/lists/2005/14/Revenue_1.htm).

Ephesians 5:5 gives a good picture of the “covetous.”

Keep Looking Up!

Leland Maples