"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Friday, February 26, 2010

GCR Task Force: "The Money's in Their Pockets and Portfolios!"


video

Above is the excerpt from the GCR preliminary report video where Ronnie Floyd discusses how people need to start giving the first tenth of "aaallll" their income to the churches, and if we would do that, what incredible spiritual revival would break out in our churches. Some comments as I've reflected on this for a few days:

- Floyd is right: there is lots of money in our pockets and in our portfolios...but this also should make "unchurched" people stop and think. Guess what, lost people who the Southern Baptists are after: once you accept Jesus, and join a Southern Baptist Church, you will find out something about the gospel they didn't tell you in their gospel presentation: once you accept Christ as Savior, you then are obligated to give 1/10th of all your income, and more, to their church. You didn't know it? You know it now, because Ronnie has told you! As fast as you can pray "Thank you Jesus for saving me", it will then be YOUR pocket and YOUR portfolio that they have their eyes on. To be so brazen as to mention that the key to their GC funding is in the pocketbooks of stingy, sinful lay people who don't fork over 10%, makes one wonder: are Southern Baptist leaders more interested in a guy in New York or California getting saved so he can go to heaven, or are they more interested in him getting saved so they can teach him to tithe and tap into HIS pocketbook and portfolio to help them build their empire?

- I find it amusing that mega church pastors like Ronnie Floyd and so many others moan and complain about the "stinginess" of God's people. Let's cut to the chase: there is not one thing on this earth that Ronnie Floyd, or Mac Brunson, or Steve Gaines, or any other pastor for that matter...has done for the cause of Christ in their blessed, sacred ministries that was not FUNDED AND PAID FOR BY GOD'S PEOPLE. Christians who work hard, earn a decent living, and then sacrificially give out of love for the Lord to their church. I'm not saying pat us all on the backs...I'm saying stop beating people up and calling them sinners for not meeting your unbiblical 10% threshold - and actually THANK GOD'S PEOPLE once in a while: they are the ones that allow you to do your ministry! Without their "2.65%" you would actually have to go and enter the job market, interview, compete with peers, and earn a wage and be a lay pastor after you worked your 40, 50 or 60 hours each week. And you mega pastor millioinaires don't forget: lay people are the source of the millions of dollars that you have accumulated!!

- notice how when Floyd tells preachers they need to preach a stewardship series, he takes his left arm and fist and makes a hammer motion...yes...hit those stingy sheep on the head to get them to let loose of that money, brother!

After you watch this video, what are your thoughts? Does this motivate you to give more to your church so they can get it to the Cooperative Program where guys like Floyd can spend it?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Floyd and GCR: They Are Astounded at the Selfishness of God's People

Well, the Southern Baptist Convention, Great Commission Resurrgence Task Force has released their preliminary report. The chairman, Ronnie Floyd, at left, delivered the prelim report via video and written form.

You're going to be shocked, but guess what needs to happen for us to have a Great Commission Resurrgence? Are you ready?

(1) Pastors need to preach storehouse tithing.

(2) Church members need to repent of their sin in their giving, and start forking over 1/10 of ALL income to their local churches.

Yes, Floyd says he is astounded at the selfishness of God's people because they don't fork at least over 10% of their income, undesignated, to their local churches.

Stop, and go read pages 26 and 27 of their report here. Or, go watch Ronnie Floyd in the video below (fast forward to the 54 minute mark) so you can get the full context of what he says about storehouse tithing.

I mean really. Did Obama and the Pelosi help write this? Its the same message: we can do great things, but boy, we have to have more of YOUR money. We already are raking in billions, but it ain't enough. We need MORE. And when we get more, we won't just buy bigger buildings, and inflate our salaries, and take trips down the Danube, and hire marketing firms...no, we'll do real ministry...we promise!

And you wonder why Les Puryear tried to get Kostenburger and Croteau fired for holding to a doctrine that says storehouse tithing is not applicable to NT believers? These men believe that you handing over a minimum of 0.1 of your income is necessary for them to fulfill the Great Commission. If that's true, then by all means fire Kostenberger and Croteau and bring all lay people before the discipline committee who are doing such a dastardly deed of keeping the gospel from going forth by their stinginess.

And not only does Floyd and the GCR want you to fork over the money in your wallet, they have their eyes on your "financial portfolios". Look at this slide from Floyd's game show video:


That should send chills up your spine. They have their eyes on your wallet AND on your portfolio.

Let's re-write Matthew 28:19-20 into the new modern, SBC GCR translation:

"After you get my followers to fork over 10% of all their income, and after you tap into their portfolios, Go ye therefore into all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observer all I have commanded you....and also disciple them so after they become my followers they too will obey the Old Testament law and fork over THEIR 10% so you can keep reaching and discipling."

Ronnie Floyd offends all hard working SBC lay people by calling lay people "selfish" because the average church members only give 2.65% of their income. Floyd calls us to "repent of the sin of not honoring God with at least the first tenth of our income." Funny, I didn't hear Floyd calling his church selfish for their paltry 0.3% they give to the CP.

And then this gem:

"Can you imagine the spiritual revial that would consume our churches if God's people would obey God in giving? Can you imagine the opportunities of advancing the Gospel...if God's people would obey God in giving?"

Its sad, really. No mention of treating our spouses better. Or being better examples for our kids or just loving Jesus more - that's not the key to spiritual revival. No, spiritual revival is dependent upon us giving them more money. How convenient. Amazing how these mega church pastors think. Lay people, wake up. Your SBC pastor likely views you, the 80%+ of you that ARE sacrificially giving and serving but not meeting their 10% criteria....they view YOU as being the greatest obstacle in achieving God's work. If you only would stop being so selfish, they would be able to fulfill the Great Commission.

Ronnie, we lay people are wising up. You will be lucky to maintain the 2.65% average. Its been that for decades and decades. People now know many of the new generation of pastors...if we were to give them boatloads of more money, their tendency would be to build more glorious buildings, hire more ministers, expand salaries, hire church marketing experts and create a mega church empire. Someday, we'll probably see an SBC mega church pastor use our tithes to lease a luxury jet airplane. And by the way Ronnie...we have watched you as our example. Your mega church takes in millions each year, yet only a measly 1% goes to the CP.

And the last statement by Floyd worth commenting on:

"Stand on the authority of the Word of God and call the people of God back to Him through the giving of the first-tenth and additional offerings to your local church. Remember the only people who ever get offended with the declaration of biblical stewardship are the ones who give little to nothing at all to your church."

That's wrong. The vast majority of generous givers are not meeting the 10% threshold, and they are increasingly becoming aware of the false doctrine and are tired of their pastors misusing scripture to guilt them into giving more to the church. And the generous givers are also sick of the secretive nature in which churches spend the money, and they are realizing that they can take some of their "2.65 percent" and give it to other charities who are doing God's work.

Floyd and the GCR's push to get people to tithe as a means of fulfilling the Great Commission won't work. Its not biblical, and people know it, and there are even conservative bible scholars like Croteau and Kostenberger and MacArthur that know it.

And besides, it won't sell too well up in the Northeast: Accept Jesus as your Savior, join our church and our convention...and oh by the way: I forgot to tell you: another part of the gospel is you're required to fork over 10% of your income to our church - every week - on the gross, please. Its in the Bible. :)

Good luck with that, Ronnie.


GCR Progress Report from GCR on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Senior Defends Junior: "Ed and Lisa Give Away More than 1/2 of Every Dime They Touch"



Update: below I've imbedded a YouTube video of the entire Ed Young/Ed Young Q&A session. The video above comes at around the 31 minute mark...but around the issue of money, Ed Young Sr has some very interesting things to say about how he deals with the many millionaires in his church, and the importance of not allowing them to give him gifts so that he can be a friend and not a peer - in fact Young Sr. talks about how he counseled a convert who was one of his richest member NOT to give ONE DIME to the church so that the man would know that his relationship to God had absolutely NOTHING to do with his money. Also interesting in this video to hear Jr. take a shot at the SBC, saying that ever since his dad ended his SBC presidency in the 80's, the SBC has been in a "nosedive". Definitely worth a listen.

------

Ed Young, Sr., pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston, spoke in a Q&A with his son at the C3 conference in Ft. Worth last week, and he defended his son against the recent news reports of him living a lavish lifestyle by saying:

"...What they didn't tell is that he [Ed Jr] and Lisa give away - I hate to give a number - maybe half or more than half of every dime they touch personally. That didn't come out in the news. Its not what you make, its what you give. And if, you know, if he were hoarding it up, it would be a different thing, or having cash, he does not have that, because he is a giver, we're givers."

Well, Mr. Shipp of WFAA didn't report that because its COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. What Ed does or does not give away doesn't provide justification for him earning a million dollar salary, or a $220,000 "parsonage allowance", and it certainly doesn't justify his church leasing a jet!

And why throw a percentage out as to how much he gives away? If Ed wants to tell everybody how much he gives away, then show us the real numbers. These ministers will never, ever share raw numbers, they will tell you percentages, or make broad comparisons to other ministers. One of my favorites is Mac Brunson's "We've decided to tithe on the tithe" announcement last year to show how committed he is to giving some extra money to the church - and "tithing on the tithe" means increasing one's giving from 10% to 11%, by the way.

And for your viewing pleasure, Ed Young the rapper belts out his new tune "UBU":




Here is the entire 45-minute Q&A session:

Monday, February 22, 2010

More Church Marketing in the SBC

I have had much to say on this blog about the implementation of "church marketing" by churches, especially mega church Southern Baptist churches. I've been critical of my former church in utilizing the services of a church marketing firm, "The A Group", owned by Maurilio Amorim. I've been critical of the A Group's involvement in the commercialization of the FBC Jax Pastor's Conference in making it a marketing bonanza, selling promotions packages and advertising space even on the goodie bags and bottled water - even the disgrace of selling access to the platform for several thousand dollars for the privilege of getting to say a word to the attendees.

I still wonder - why do pastors feel the need to take the money given to them by God's people, given to do ministry, and then they need to take some of that money and hire a "marketing expert" like Maurilio Amorim? What role does "marketing" play in reaching people with the gospel? More specifically, what skills and insights does a Maurilio Amorim or any other hired gun church marketing expert possess that the seminary-educated church staff does NOT have?

Through the magic of Twitter, we see that another large SBC church is employing the services of Maurilio Amorim. It seems that Maurilio got on an airplane in Nashville this weekend, flew to southern Florida, and did one of his "secret shopper" visits; presumably to FBC West Palm Beach pastored by Jimmy Scroggins. Maurilio stayed at a nice hotel, Twittered about his meal at a French bistro and shared a picture of his dessert, and then visited a church Sunday morning. And Twittered about the strong perfume of the lady sitting in front of him - perhaps he needs some hazard pay for having to endure such hardship.

I like Jimmy Scroggins, and listen to his sermons regularly. But how ironic is it, that just after he and his co-pastor preach a stewardship series ("Crazy Love"), calling people to be generous givers (which by the way was a very good stewardship series), and then the next week they are taking money given by God's people for ministry and hiring the A-Group to help them figure out how to do their ministry and how to market it?

Some other questions: would any of these men who made the decision to hire a church marketing firm at FBC WPB, if it were THEIR MONEY and the church were their own private business, would have hired Maurilio and paid for his airfare and his hotel and his hourly consulting fees?


I have acknowledged before that the A-Group does some very good work in the technology area, website design, etc. And I don't begrudge Maurilio making his living by selling his wares in a free market, so the criticism is not aimed at Maurilio - its at the churches that seem to think they need to hire a church marketing firm to accomplish God's will for their church.

If these church marketing firms are such a good idea and a wise use of the money given sacrificially by church members, why doesn't the SBC help some of the smaller churches purchase Maurillio's services? I might think Maurilio's services would be of better use at a smaller church with less resources and fewer and lesser trained ministers. But at mega churches where there are scores of highly trained (and paid) ministers on staff - where does Maurilio come in?

And if church marketing plays such an important role...are we teaching church marketing principles in our seminaries so that we can HIRE a seminary trained "church marketing" expert? Or is that too worldly to teach in seminary - and if so, then why use them in the first place?

Last question: would the Watchdog readers be happy to know that YOUR money was used to hire a church marketing guy to do a secret shopper visit? Would you be happy to know that in addition to 50% of your church budget already being spent on staff salaries and bennies, that the staff feels the need to hire an "expert" to reach your community with the gospel?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ed Young's "Franchise Player" View of Himself Explains Quite a Bit

While the Ed Young story is very interesting, and more is sure to be told, his story is just a symptom of a bigger problem we have in Christianity today.

That is mega church celebrity preachers who are siphoning off funds that generous Christians are giving to their church. These CEO-style, mega church preachers use this money to live a lavish, luxurious, jet-setting lifestyle building massive wealth, brand name recognition and celebrity status. And many of them do it while shamelessly telling Christians they MUST fork over 10% minimum of their income to their ministries to be in a right relationship with God. While these antics for decades were relegated to the "TV evangelists", the millionaire CEO pastor phenomenon has now crept into mainstream evangelical Christianity. And it is harming the cause of Christ as non-Christians watch these men get filthy rich off the backs of their church members, and worse they see Christians continuing to fork over their money to these mega church temples. Very much a turn-off to non-Christians who might consider becoming a Christian.

How did this happen? How did we get to this point? Take Ed Young's jet for example. If you ever wonder what kind of mindset would cause a pastor and his church board (made up of other church pastors in Young's case) to think it is a wise investment of the church member's hard-earned money to lease for themselves a luxury private jet at the cost to the church of one to two million dollars per year, you just have to watch the video below of Ed Young. It will become clear how this can happen when you listen to Ed's own words.

As you watch the video below, keep in mind the timing....it was filmed by Ed Young on May 27, 2007, just a few months AFTER the jet lease was signed and very near the time that the church took possession of the jet. It was just a few weeks AFTER this video, that as Brett Shipp reported, the jet logged a week-long trip to the Bahamas in June 2007, then another week long trip to Mexico.

In the video, Ed Young spends 10 minutes telling his audience just how incredibly difficult it is to be a pastor. I wrote an article about this video back in 2008, and I noted how his body language, his posture, his hair, everything makes it look like the man has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He talks about how taxing it is to have to speak to large audiences each week, how tough it is to lead an army of people that "you can't fire or dock their pay" (his volunteers), and then he offers this disturbing analysis:

"...and then the whole financial thing as well. We're responsible every year, we're the main one that raises money. You know I call the pastor the 'franchise player' because we're the ones who are responsible before God for raising money. Every year - we've been going here for about 17 years - and every year I've stared a lot of money in the face and I know at the end of the day its up to me to raise that money. Whether its in the early days thousands and it moved to hundreds of thousands and now its many many millions of dollars, and that's a taxing thing..."

"Franchise player"...for those of you not familiar with this term, it is used in sports to speak of the one player on a professional sports team that will be the highest paid player, with the longest contract typically, around which the rest of the team is built. He is the one that the owners believe will bring the fans in, that will sell tickets and bring in new fans and raise overall team revenue. Others on the team are brought in to support and complement this star. He is considered the most talented and demands a mammoth salary, and gets all the accolades and celebrity status and endorsements - often he is considered the "face" of the organization.

If a pastor actually views himself as the "franchise player" of the church, and the one responsible for "raising money" as Ed Young says...it stands to reason that if massive amounts of money ARE "raised" at his church, then he is responsible, he DID something. The pastor-franchise player was the money man, the go-to guy that caused the money to flow from the pockets to the plates. And why if he RAISED the money, then he should be rewarded, right? Who would argue with that? The salesman gets the commission of his sales, the CEO gets a bonus for creating shareholder wealth. And the CEO pastor gets the lavish jet.

What I come away with from this video is that Young, and other like-minded mega church pastors, believe that they are ENTITLED to the huge pay, family on staff - and perhaps even an 8-million dollar jet - because of how stressful their job is and because it is their superior leadership and speaking skills that brought the money in!

The only way this will ever be fixed, is through good old-fashioned American capitalism...Christians wising up and voting with their feet and their pocketbook - after they realize God is NOT calling them to support these temples and their rock-star preachers.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Young, Cross, and Richard (Re-SHARD) "Dog and Pony Show" Analysis

Readers - below is a radio show clip that contains some outstanding analysis by Chris Rosebrough of the Pirate Christian Radio network, analyzing the Ed Young, Mac Richard (prounouced "Re-SHARD"), and John Cross "Dog and Pony Show" at the Fellowship Church on February 6th. It was at this dog-and-pony show that these three men defended the integrity of the Fellowship ministry, and declared the jet lease to be a wise use of resources to take care of Pastor Ed Young and his family.

Chris Rosebrough is the founder of the Pirate Christian Radio Network broadcasting from Fishers, Indiana. His program is devoted to exposing doctrinal error in all areas of Christianity, both mainstream evangelical and also in the emerging church movement. In his shows he does sermon analysis, picking apart sermons that are filled with doctrinal error and watered-down theology. Its great to know there is a guy out there exposing the frauds in Christianity.



In the clip above, he does a theological and an MBA-level analysis of the statements made by Young, Cross, and Richard (prounounced "Re-SHARD) concerning the allegations raised by the local TV channel concerning Fellowship Church, Ed Young's salary and "parsonage allowance" and the leasing of a jet airplane. Hoo-boy, and Rosebrough pulls no punches. He claims to have spoken personally to some of the former FC employees, and he let's these three guys have it for this disgraceful performance.

I will be doing more articles on the Young controversy this week, as it does tie into some of the tithing issues discussed here - as well as my concern over the fact that John Cross is the president of our Florida Baptist Convention and has chosen to throw his full support behind the jet air plane and to declare Young's ministry to be so full of integrity.

And about Mac Richard's (pronounced Re-SHARD) statement near the end of the dog and pony show that he prays for those behind this news story....actually, the ones I pray for in this are Richard (pronounced Re-SHARD) and Cross...if it turns out that there are financial shenanigans surrounding the lease arrangements of that jet airplane that should have been disclosed to the church, then they will look very foolish and will be shown to be enablers of Ed Young's greed and wasting of God's resources. So, yes, pray for the people behind the news report especially the annoymous sources who stand to lose quite a bit if his identity is exposed...but pray for Richard and Cross as well.

And to Fellowship Church members: it will be painful to listen to this analysis, but it may help you understand how many Christians and non-Christians who are not at your church view what is happening at Fellowship Church. You might choose to hunker down and give more as you believe Richard's (prounounced "Re-SHARD") notion that you are under attack...but I think the wise choice is to ask even MORE questions, and demand full accountability behind the terms of the jet aircraft lease and other finanical matters at your church. You may not think you have any power because your board is made up of people not from your church, but you hold the ULTIMATE power...that is the power of the pocketbook.

And that, my friends, is a language these mega church pastors understand.

[Note: you can drag forward to the 12 minute mark if you want to start right where Chris begins his analysis...but his up-front remarks give excellent context]

Friday, February 12, 2010

Les Puryear Meets Sheriff Wade Burleson

Les Puryear, pastor of the Lewisville Baptist Church in Lewisville, NC, this week sent a letter to the SEBTS seminary president Danny Akin to suggest that Andreas Kostenberger is not fit to be a professor because of his views on tithing.

If Les Puryear were calling the shots today [Les made a run at the SBC presidency a few years back], based on his letter I believe he'd fire Andreas Kostenberger at SEBTS and David Croteau at Liberty lickity-split for their "heretical" views on storehouse tithing.

However, Les ran into the Sheriff.

That is Sheriff Wade Burleson, who hails from Enid, Oklahoma.

Les Puryear, meet Sheriff Wade Burleson.

Wile E. Coyote, meet the Roadrunner.

Elmer Fudd, meet Bugs Bunny.

Seriously, though, this is how it is these days in the SBC. If you don't hold to the teachings of non-essential doctrines of the conservative resurgence bunch, they will come after you. Or if you criticize or challenge mega church pastors, you're on their list.

They'll try to shut you down.

Yes, shut 'em down.

As we see now with Les, they'll even go after your job and livelihood. Some will stoop so low as to go behind your back to get you fired, and they have no problem in harming your spouse and children to make you pay for your "sin".

But thank goodness there is a sheriff in town who sniffs this sort of nonsense out and comes to the rescue.

His name is Wade Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, in Enid, Oklahoma.

Someone, somehow, found out about Les' email to SEBTS and Liberty University, and sent parts of it to Wade. And Wade has exposed this on his blog, and has Les backpeddling. Read Les' damage control post here.

And Sheriff Wade won't stand for these shenanigans in the SBC. He's seen it in so many instances, and has personal experience himself, and he has decided to expose it at every opportunity. And as Wade has said over at the BaptistLife forums, he has contacts at every SBC institution who will let him know when another Wile E. Coyote attempts to employ the latest Acme product.

Thanks, Wade, for standing up to these guys, and not being afraid to take the shots.

And Les: you might want to send the rest of your Acme products back to the manufacturer.

The Road Runner has seen them all used before, and knows just want to do.

And if he catches you, you're through.

Beep Beep!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Florida Baptist Convention President Cross Endorses Young's Use of Jet

Dr. John Cross, Pastor of the South Biscayne Church in North Port, Florida, is currently serving as the President of the Florida Baptist Convention. He presided over the 2009 annual meeting in Pensacola last November, where the motto was:

"Imagine If..."

Well, us Florida baptists never imagined that our president would be flying to Dallas to actually stand in a church and defend the use of church funds to lease a luxury, French-made jet for a Southern Baptist pastor. Who would have thought it? We are certainly breaking new ground in the SBC and in the Florida Baptist Convention, that we are seeing the first SBC pastor use a leased jet. But us Florida baptists don't have the luxury of just ignoring the Young jet matter, and writing Young off as some oddity...no, our Florida Baptist president ENDORSES this, and in a very big way.

Not only did Cross, who is a SWBTS alum, defend the use of a leased jet for pastor Ed Young, but he in very clear terms stated that in all of his executive leadership experience, Ed Young's ministry is THE MOST ACCOUNTABLE AND AUTHENTIC MINISTRY he has ever served with:

"I've been honored to serve on denominational committees nationally in the Southern Baptist Convention, a number of boards in our own Florida Baptist Convention, a college board, as he [Young] mentioned I'm currently serving as president of our state convention which has over 2900 churches so I've been behind the scenes in a number of situations and ministries, I've served on the boards of several very large churches, and I just want you as a church family to know, that I have never, EVER, had the honor of being part of a ministry with such integrity, such authenticity, vulnerability, and accountability. That's the facts....I want you to know that all the i's are dotted, all the t's are crossed. Talk about accountability? Well, I can't think of any greater accountability than to know as pastor of a church...that one day I will stand before God....to give an account as how I served as pastor of that church, just like Pastor Ed will one day for Fellowship Church."

Indeed. Standing before God to give an account of spending money on a leased plane. This makes me angry. I feel as though Dr. John Cross is over there using his platform as president of our state convention - which he and Young both mentioned - and that he in a way represents all of us and is endorsing this huge waste of money.

About the plane, Cross makes no apologies:

"He's already mentioned the plane, but I just want to address that issue again. We, we, uh, we make use of a leased plane, absolutely. As opportunities began to open to pastor Ed Young to go and pastor other pastors and the ministry of Fellowship Church began to have the opporutnity to multiply herself all over this country and all over the world, we as a board felt like after consulting a number of different wise counselors and seeking the consultation of a number of other Christian leaders who access and who use private travel, private air travel, that that was a wise decision because we believe that we need to take care of him, we need to take care of his marriage, and his family, and we want him to be here and to be at his very best on the weekends and that's why we want to take care of him. So, that's, that's, we're thankful for that."

Yes, Dr. Cross and the other board members believe that Ed needed to be "taken care of" and a plane was absolutely necessary. I wonder who the "other Christian leaders" are that they consulted that make use of "private air travel". I mean who in Christianity is flying around on luxury jets besides Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, and Kenneth Copeland? Too bad Cross and the FC board didn't consult some of the smaller church pastors who are barely getting by...or too bad they didn't consult with Jerry Rankin at the IMB who knows how much money they need to keep their missionaries on the field. Or gee, consult with the SBC missionaries themselves who are having to give up air conditioners and clothes washers. They might have given the Fellowship Church much wiser counsel on how to spend their money than their "wise accountants and lawyers and consultants"

Below are pictures of the same model jet, inside and out. This kind of travel is reserved mostly for rock stars and the heads of billion-dollar corporations.

And now Southern Baptist mega church pastors.

Congrats, SBC. We are in the BIG TIME now! Take a look SWBTS students...make it big and you TOO can be a rock star mega church pastor and get use of "private air travel" - which means you can take your travel to a "ho...nutha...level" - to a level of about 35,000 feet on your bodacious, audacious triple-engined jet aircraft. Yeee Haw!!!

Imagine If....you could be a mega church pastor, and have your board of directors decide to "take care of you"....who will be the NEXT Southern Baptist mega church pastor to have his marriage saved by having a jet so he can be the best he can be when he preaches on Sunday?






Monday, February 8, 2010

Young and Two Board Members Answer Critics


Saturday night at Fellowship Church, Ed Young gave some answers to the investigative piece last week. After Ed spoke for about 10 minutes, he called up two of his board members: John Cross - pastor of S. Biscayne Church and president of the Florida Baptist Convention and Austin Pastor Mac Richard (prounounced "Ri-SHARD") - they each spoke about 10 minutes.

I do commend Young for addressing his congregation. His answers were mostly vague non-answers - but he gave more than enough to satisfy his faithful followers, but not nearly enough to silence his critics in my estimation.

Cross and Richard gave no concrete answers either, except to say what great a guy Young is, and how accountable to God they are and Ed Young is, and how much integrity all of them have. They told the church that they can be trusted to watch out for the best interests of the church.

But still, no firm answers to the most pressing questions.

The questions still remain:

- what is Ed Young's total compensation? Ed said to his congregation that his "salary" from the church is not a million dollars. He even pulled a Mac Brunson and said "I believe I'm well under what others make". Too bad he can't just say what his total compensation is, and refute the TV report that his total compensation is in excess of a million bucks. Remember: his salary might be below a million - but salary means zippo in pastor-land- its total compensation that matters.

- what is Ed's housing allowance? Ed did not address the report which said it was a "parsonage allowance" of $225,000.

- what is Fellowship Church paying for use of the private plane, and why is it absolutely necessary? Young and Cross sort of addressed the plane issue by saying "Fellowship Church does not own an airplane". But the N188FJ Falcon 50 private jet has been leased by Medill Co in Connecticut - and Ed's name, and "Fellowship Church" and "Fellowship Connection" appear on the lease documents. Why is a private jet necessary for Young to accomplish God's will? According to Cross, the plane is helping to take care of Ed, his marriage, and his family. Great, but why is a plane necessary? Many men log hundreds of thousands of miles of air travel a year, but they make due without a private leased jet. Is this a wise use of Kindgdom money?

This is probably the end of the story. Ed had a packed house Saturday night, got a rousing standing ovation with hoots and hollers and whistles...and he and two of his buddies addressed the news report in thier own way. They declared the news report as not only a personal attack on "Ed and Lisa", but an attack on the board and the entire church - all of which is a sure sign, they say, that God is about to do something wonderful at Fellowship Church.

I pray for the day when the IRS requires full financial disclosure of the pastor and family compensation, perks, gifts, and travel expenses, as a condition for continued tax-exempt status for these mega ministries. Until that day, Kingdom money will continue to be wasted while the gullible sheep fork their money over to support their rock-star pastor.

And Southern Baptist Convention - wake up - because the mega wasters are no longer just the Benny Hinns and Creflo Dollars and the Kenneth Copelands - they have crept into our own ranks.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ed Young: "No Secrets" or "No Answers"?



As most of you know, a local Dallas TV station aired a scathing investigative story during their ratings sweeep week, on Ed Young, pastor of SBC-affiliated Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX. Young posted his response to the story on his blog, with the post entitled "No Secrets".

Perhaps a better title would be "No Answers".

The news reporter claims credible sources have told him details of business transactions benefiting the Young's, the purchase of an 8-million dollar Falcon 50 private jet, and a total compensation package of $1.24 million.

Well, I want to focus not on the allegations or the news report...if true, its no big deal, just another millionaire preacher getting rich off of money given sacrificially by Christians who've been duped into thinking they're giving it to God. We've seen lots of these in the past 20 years. Nothing new there.

It is instructive, however, to examine the initial response of Young at his blog site 2/4/10, and the comments posted by his loyalists (counting over 130 as of this writing). They are using the same general template that other mega church pastors use when there are serious questions cast on their ministry. It is a template that hurts their ministry more than if they would be open and honest and transparent...and worst of all: its a template that demonstrates hypocrisy and arrogance on the part of the minister, and stupidy and gullibility on the part of the minister's followers - both of which do as much harm to the cause of Christ as the accusations themselves.

Here's the template response:

1. Whatever I did, my motives are right because I am called by God in my ministry.

You'll notice Ed starts off his response on his blog by saying he was called into the ministry by God. So what? That matters zilch when accusations of lavish spending and secrecy are raised. Every single minister who gets in trouble can make the same claim and it just has no relevance. I'd like to see a corporate CEO try that line of reasoning to address serious allegations against him.

2. The followers say: It doesn't matter, you're doing great things for God.

When a ministry has questions raised in the media, the minister's supporters will tend to not even want the questions answered. They instead express support by citing all the wonderful deeds the minister has done, and how their lives were blessed by him/her, as though any of that has relevance.

The vast majority of commenters on Ed's blog support him and cite all the wonderful things he has done for them and the Kingdom. Samples:

"Don't ever quit!!! Jesus is victorious!!! You and your family have had a significant impact on the lives of many."

"Pastor, I came to Christ because of a sermon you gave. My boyfriend and I chose to live a Christian life because of your teachings. Please, have no doubts as to why you became a pastor. The church is behind you and believes in you."

"My wife and I stand in support of you, Lisa, and your family during this time and are praying relentlessly against the wiles of Satan."

"The news piece was ridiculous. Since when do you have to disclose everything you own? Your members know that you have been signed on for amazing book deals because of the communicator you are and that has nothing to do with spending the church's money. "

"The salary and house doesn't bother me. Everyone who attends the church knows you make a lot of money. It's not like you or Lisa hide the bling, nor should you hide it. Like the old saying goes, 'If you’ve got it, flaunt it.' "

"The report was one-sided and clearly uneducated as to the vast amount of work done by both Fellowship and Ed Young to bring the Word to the entire world. Ed works harder than anyone I know - preaching, speaking, writing and being a father/husband. "


"At the end of the day I know that I am being obedient by tithing and serving the church. Whether or not these funds are being misused is not for me to judge. "

and my favorite:

"Immediatly after watching the news cast my husband and I went on line and tithed. We trust you Ed and Lisa and are continualy blessed by your leadership and teaching."

3. I absolutely will not answer your questions

Instead of answering questions like: yes, we do have a jet, and here's why...and no, we didn't take a vacation to the Bahamas and Mexico on the jet, or we did and we reimbursed the church for the cost of the plane...instead Ed states that he will not even so much as read or watch the news report! Imagine that, his ministry is on the news about HIS spending habits, and an airplane that HE rides in, and money HE takes from the ministry, and he will not watch or read the news account? Again, imagine a CEO giving that sort of response to allegations about his company. Ed's blog entry is entitled "No Secrets", but it really should be "No Answers".

These mega church pastors would sooner burn the place down than answer questions from lay people much less a pesky reporter. Does Ed really make a million and a quarter per year? Did the church or some ancillary 501(c)3 buy a jet? Did he take the jet to the Bahamas and Mexico? They will not answer. They owe no one any answers. To answer is to be weak. To answer would invite more questions, and they don't want more questions.

4. I am not accountable to the public or to the donors, only a few close advisers.

Ed says that "proper people" know the facts and hold him accountable. Sorry, but in the church setting that means zippo. Many mega churches have bylaws that essentially allow the pastor to hand pick the trustees and financial officers of the church, thus there is very little accountability. Not saying that is the case here...but the point is open disclosure of finanical records to each and every donor, like pastor compensation packages and gifts and air plane contracts - now THAT would be accountability.

5. My pay is fair and in-line with other similar pastors.

They will never, ever, release total compensation packages of the pastor. They will say things like "we have an independent group that ensures it is fair and equitible based on studies of like churches". Some might even speak of "salary" numbers but not include all of the "allowances". Some might even say statements like "I'm one of the lowest paid mega church pastors in the SBC."

But never, ever, will they release compensation numbers. Unless Senator Grassely asks, then its 50/50.

6. The questioner is "Satan", and the questions are a device of the devil to divide the church.

In the minds of the minister and his/her followers, accusations of impropriety are proof that the minister is doing the will of God. Look at any church scandal, and that is always the initial response. Anybody who dares to publicly call for answers on how money is spent by a mega church will be accused of "doing the work of Satan". The questioners will be told they are just "jealous". Some will warn the questioner that God will bring a plague on them.

This investigative report included an anonymous "former staff member". The template calls for him to be called a coward. If they can find out who he is, there is a good chance he will be slandered and ridiculed.

Again, more quotes on the blog:

"Strangely enough, all the report really did was make one person look like a coward. If you have a problem with your brother, bring it to him. Don't cover your head and have your voice changed. "

"Remember this is part of Satan's schemes to kill and destroy all who serve in the kingdom of God. "


"I can't help but think that this attack came to be at the end of a church-wide month long fast. Satan has to work extra hard to try to overpower the blessings of Fellowship Church."

"One gets attacked the most when one is doing what is right!"

"We are sorry that the devil is dancing and have lifted you up in our prayers. "

And my favorite:

"I am sure that when your and Lisa's feet hit the floor each morning the devil and his minions jump up and scream kicking it into Mach 3 with their hair catching fire because they know they have to 'work like hell' to attack all the advances that will be made in God's kingdom through His use of the gifts and talents He so kindly bestowed upon both of you."

7. The minister will receive a standing ovation in the first church service after the accusations.

Guaranteed. No matter the accusations, the minister will address them in a very vague way, not directly, will claim to not be perfect, will minimize the concerns, will use God's will as a defense, and will say that the devil gets busy when God's man is doing God's will.

And the minister will get a standing ovation from the faithful. He will act humble, maybe shed a tear out the corner of his eye.

What should Ed Young Do?

Ed Young should answer the questions directly. They are easy to answer. He can humble himself and give an answer for the plane and his salary. Maybe they did a cost/benefit analysis on all of his travel expenses and the jet made sense.

But he won't, and likely his congregation won't require him to.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gaines: 'Betty the Bank Robber' Can't Warble for Jesus In My Church

One thing we have to acknowledge about Steve Gaines and his views on tithing and recent accusations against non-tithers dealing in stolen goods: Gaines is consistent. Last Sunday (1/31/10) was not the first time he has said such outragous statements about his brothers and sisters in Christ who may be obedient to God in giving sacrificially, but not meeting Gaines' 10% undesignated threshold.

In July 2003, Gaines made the following statement at Union University:

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"Number one...you have to sign this covenant to sing a solo in our church...and I don't want to hear 'Betty the Bank Robber' warble about Jesus, Amen? I don't want some thief up there singing a solo."
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So in Gaines' view of stewardship, a person cannot stand up in his church and sing praises to Jesus Christ unless they are forking over 10% undesignated to the budget of his church.

video

The warped doctrine itself is bad enough, but what is particularly troubling is how much disdain he must have for lay people to refer to a woman soloist as "Betty the Bank Robber". To Gaines, its apparent that your worth in his church and in the kingdom of God starts and stops with whether you give 10% to his church undesignated. If you do, you're invited to leadership. If you don't, then you can't even sing a solo in his church.

Another troubling aspect of Gaines' comments about "Betty the Bank Robber" is the audience to whom he made these remarks. He made them to seminary students. Future preachers. He is dishing out this garbage to these future preachers, so that they may implement his views. He is pushing it out to the younger generation. It must be very difficult to love the people you shepherd when you've been taught that 97.5% of them are thieves and bankrobbers and are stealing from God.

A few other choice comments from Gaines Union University sermon:

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"We define tithing in this way: storehouse tithing, 10% undesignated to the budget of the church. And we check it. In fact if they don't tithe, they don't even get asked to be a leader in our church. Now I don't check it, but the finance committee does, and you know, they give him some leeway. But you show me a guy who is living in a nice house, and driving two nice cars and is giving a thousand bucks a year to the church, he's not tithing and I don't want him as a leader. Are you OK? You say 'I don't think that's right'. You know what, he's a thief, and I don't want a thief as a deacon. He's stealing from God."
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I came across this video of Creflo Dollar, in which he describes his desire to take non-tithers, line them up in front of the church, give uzi's to all the ushers, and have them shot and buried out in back of the church so that God would show up at their service.

As I've said before, the one common doctrine shared by ALL these different sects of Christianity: SBC mega church pastors, the health and wealth prosperity prechers, the emerging church leaders....all who slam each other for their other varying doctrines...but they all share one thing in common:
They want 10% of your money in their church coffers, and they will use the Bible to convince people that this is what God wants too; in fact they declare they KNOW that is what God demands for you to have favor with God.

Shameful.


A Clear Difference in Doctrine

This week the discussion of the storehouse tithe spilled over into to two popular blogs written by Southern Baptist pastors. WD Readers who honestly are seeking the answer to the questions of whether this storehouse tithing doctrine is biblical should read carefully both of these articles and the associated string of comments:



What a contrast:

Says Puryear: "I fear they are treading dangerously closely to antinomianism. Nowhere in the NT is the command to tithe removed. As a matter of fact, not only did Jesus not remove the law, He made it more stringent (commit adultery when you lust, murder when you hate someone, etc.)." [link to antinomianism is mine, not Les']

Says Burleson: "Simply put, in the New Covenant agreement with God, you LISTEN TO HIM AS TO HOW YOU GIVE YOUR MONEY AWAY. There is no law. There is no code. There is the Spirit. Hear Him. And, by the way, the Spirit of God leading His people brings about powerful, even miraculous, things in this world. Those who obey the Spirit aren't antinomion at all--they are Spirit led. "

Burleson describes his view very well from scripture. He says it lovingly and clearly, even gives room to accept Puryear's viewpoint. Full of truth, yet full of grace. Burleson's blog is called "Grace and Truth to You"...it just hit me, this is why Burleson's blog is so popular amongst lay people - he is very conservative in his doctrine, yet his writing is full of grace. You don't see that too often these days in conservative, fundamental evangelical circles: truth AND grace.

Contrast this with the other side on this argument. Puryear says we are close to antinomianism. To pull out the "antinomianism" card in this debate is to accuse those who disagree with Puryear as believing Christians don't need to adhere to basic laws of morals and ethics. How ridiculous. Now we are anti-law and anti-ethics to dare to question Puryear's doctrine. The one thing I like about these hard-core storehouse tithers is their "creativity" in taking their illogical viewpoints to new heights.

In his comments section, Puryear sidesteps my honest questions challenging his views on storehouse tithing. Puryear even uses the "church autonomy" argument for avoiding any discussion of Gaines' abusive comments about non-tithers driving stolen cars.

On one hand, this debate is over. Its been settled in the minds of lay people for a long time, and they know their pastors are blowing hot air when it comes to storehouse tithing. 97% of lay people believe Burleson, because 97% of born again believers do not practice storehouse tithing. They never have and they never will. Its been that way ever since evangelicals started pushing this doctrine over 100 years ago.

And you say "We don't gauge truth by how many people obey it". True, but we're not saying 97% of Christians give nothing...no, most Christians obey the New Testament and give very generously, just not up to the phony standards set up by Puryear and Gaines and others. Americans in general, and Christian Americans in particular are the most generous people on earth.

Even non-believing Americans know its right to be generous as the New Testament tells us, as evidenced by their rush to do everything they can to help people in Haiti. We Christians are generous in our giving of finances, and in giving of our time to charitable work in and out of the church. We know that "the church" is not just the 501(c)3 organization to which we belong, but that it is the entire sphere of believing Christians. We know that our generosity includes our local assembly of believers, but should extend out to the universal church - oh, yeah, and to the poor and the orphans and the widows.

So while even the unbelievers are doing everything they can to compel people to give as much as possible to the relief effort in Haiti, its the fundamentalist Christians who are stuck in their "less than 10% to your church is 100% disobedience" mindset - some, like Gaines, are busy compeling already generous Christians to give nothing to Haiti, but give more to their pastor's church budget (which is 50% salaries and 25% buildings). They use their storehouse tithing doctrine to fill up THEIR church coffers FIRST, teaching that only the gifts above 10% can go to Haiti.

How sad that non-believers understand more clearly the New Testament teaching on grace giving than do self-professed bible experts like Gaines and Puryear.

Oh, and one more thing that points to Gaines and Puryear being wrong on the storehouse tithing doctrine, and Burleson being right:

John MacArthur agrees with Wade Burleson, not with Les Puryear and Steve Gaines.

:)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gaines: Non-Tithers Driving Stolen Cars, Living in Stolen Homes

And do not give any of your tithe "...to the Red Cross, or to Haiti, or to support orphans in Latin America...it goes to your church in an undesignated fashion." Steve Gaines, 1/31/10
[See Video Below]
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Steve Gaines has hit a new high (or low, depending on your perspective) in his storehouse tithing rhetoric. I really am grateful for Gaines in being so open and willing to put it all on the table to help show how ridiculous and hurtful his doctrine is.

Sunday morning 1/31/10 Gaines declared the following:

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"The reason some of you can't worship God is you're stealing from Him. You cannot be intimate with someone you're stealing from....Some of you have stolen from God and paid for other things, and that means you're living in a stolen house, you're driving a stolen car, you're wearing stolen clothes, you have stolen jewelry, you're sending your kids to school with stolen money."
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Yes, in Gaines' view of scripture, Christians who don't fork over 10% of their income, undesignated, to HIS church, are criminals dealing in stolen property. And don't think of sending your kids to a Christian school like your wealthy pastor...until you FIRST fork over 10% of your income to the pastor's church.

Here is another humdinger. This is a good one, because Gaines now takes his doctrine to its logical conclusion, that we all are powerless to help those in need around us UNTIL we first give 10% to the church.

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"You don't give that 10% to the Red Cross, or to Haiti, or to support orphans in Latin America, or to buy this or to help with a seminary or a college...it goes to your local church in an undesignated manner."
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If that be true, THANK GOD that not everyone is a Christian, else there would hardly be any money to give to Haiti - only those who are not Christian would be sending aid since only a tiny fraction of Christians have tithed in the past 100 years. Did you ever think you'd hear a preacher of the gospel tell Christians that they should NOT help the poor, the suffering, and the orphans? I didn't either, but those days are here.

Who is really the God robber? Who is the one really that is wearing stolen clothes and driving a stolen car?

If anyone in Gaines' church has had the Lord place on their heart to give generously to the Haiti relief effort, or to help orphans in Latin America but they are guilted by Gaines to instead fork that money over to his church, I would say the person that is robbing God is Doctor Steve Gaines.

Did I just say that? You better believe I did.

On one hand Gaines' comments make my blood boil that he is willing to push this garbage out to his sheep to accuse them of dealing in stolen property to fill his church coffers...but in another way we should be grateful to Gaines. He is willing to extend his storehouse tithing false teaching to its ridiculous, logical conclusion - and this may help some people see more clearly.

I have to wonder: how long before Bill O'Reilly puts Gaines up as a "pinhead" for telling his people they are sending their kids to school with stolen money, and telling people not to give to Haiti and to orphans, until they first give 10% to his church. And by God, you can't even give to the church and designate that the money go to relief. Nope. Undesignated, so that Steve Gaines and his men can do the designating. You're too stupid to designate. And you're a God robber.

My hope is that people at his church would hear his false doctrine and make up their minds to give less to his church, and more to meet the needs of people.

This sort of brazen manipulation and guilt tactics to get money out of people must be met with one thing: Good old fashioned American capitalism, where people vote with their feet and their pocketbook and take their charitable contributions ELSEWHERE...anywhere but this man's church.

video