Sunday, November 13, 2011

Is 'Church' a Multi-Billion Dollar a Year Industry?

Most Christian 'Churches' of today, whether Baptist, Catholic or Protestant are classified by the IRS as 501(c)(3) corporations. Not all, but most. I want to call attention to the word, corporations. The definition of a corporation is as follows: "A company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law." I have possession of a Summarized Analysis of Revenue and Expenses, Cash Position and Liabilities Report from a Baptist Church. It chronicles it's end of month (EOM) and year to date (YTD) budget, income and spending. 

The report says that for the month of 31 August to 30 September 2010 this 'Church's' expenses were as follows: Missions $40,108, Discipleship $17,436, Worship Ministry $20,837, Ministry Program $1,986, Personnel $90,413, Infrastructure $177,025, Total Expenses $347,805.56! And that is just for ONE MONTH! The outstanding mortgage alone is a whopping $5,232,276.00. The annual budget amounts to $2,702,100.00! Notice how much money went to paying for infrastructure upkeep, staff and pastor(s) just for a single month.

Churches traditionally do not prefer to call themselves a "business," but with a little imagination, I suppose we can wipe the fiscal facts away, and just call it a ministry, can't we? I mean, why put a negative spin on things by calling it a business? Because that would embarrass most of us. If that is our motive for covering up the truth, God help us! We can dress up a chimp in a tuxedo and call him Englebert Pumpernickel, but he's still just a chimp. Let's be honest with ourselves and face the facts, okay?

The fact of the matter is, this business entity 'Church,' and many like it, are what they appear to be; a business! I am reminded of a Hans Christian Andersen's story called, 'The Emperors New Clothes.' I don't think we need to stretch our imaginations too far to draw some similarities between this story and our perspective regarding what a church has become in the minds of the average American church-goer. We have been seeing things in 'Church' that just aren't there! When we look into the reality of Scripture, very little of what we think is true in the modern day Main Stream 'Church' just doesn't show up! All we need is for some child to point it out and everything rapidly becomes clear. After all, these 'New Clothes' were made up out of thin air and the idea that they existed came from the power of suggestion. 

'Church' today has developed itself in much the same way. We've been told by it's 'tailors' that we are to have a building Project, Promotions, and Professional personnel to run it, when in fact, it's just an illusion made up to get us to fund it. The tailors get paid, and we think we have a real, honest to goodness church of Jesus' design, when in reality we got a counterfeit. If Jesus is the Groom then His church is His Bride, right? The corporate entity 'THING' we call 'Church' today is not His Bride. 

There are many saved believers in these institutions who help comprise 'the Bride,' however the way the Institutional 'Church' conducts itself isn't like a bride at all. The Bride is a living, breathing organism, while the Institutional 'Church' is a lifeless Organization. It has been made up from Satan's imagination. Not only that, we pay for this entity we think of as a bride by the way of tithing. Here's a little memory jogger for you: The Bride has already been paid for! That's because the Bride is a 'Person' not an 'IT'! Jesus paid the price! We do things to get God to trip His blessings our way, so we pay, and pay and pay toward the running of a corporate entity, (an IT). The Bride in the Bible is oftentimes referred to as the 'Body' of Christ. But when a literal 'Body' becomes a Business, it becomes a Prostitute. I'll explain.

A blogger named David Grant from his blog, 'Taken 4 Granted,' posted author David Ryser's  article entitled, 'Lover or Prostitute?' ( I wish to share the gist of this article as an example. I won't copy the article here, but I will put my own spin on it to hit the main ideas expressed so that it may fit this post. I encourage the reader to view the article at the address Provided.

A bride loves her groom unconditionally with no thought of a return. A Prostitute loves too, but for a price! When she doesn't get paid any longer she stops the love. If the Institutional 'Church' model of Satan's imagination is money driven, then what we have on our hands, ladies and gentlemen, is a Prostitute. We pay into it and it loves us back. The second we withdraw our financial support, the love goes away. If we are paying tithes to get the 'Church' to pay attention to us, then we are paying a Prostitute-like, money-driven, business organization we wrongfully call, a 'Church Body.' Selling a 'body' is called, Prostitution. It is an enterprise for gain. This industry is known as the 'Oldest Profession' (and no, it isn't farming!).

'Church' has become so popular it has turned into an Industry. There's the Auto Industry, the Pharmaceutical Industry, the Tobacco Industry and the Prostitute-'Church' Industry! On the other side of the spectrum we have the Lord's model for a church to consider. We as saved believers have always been His local, physical, community of people, who have all things in common, gathering together in homes and parks, or wherever families might gather around to share and worship Jesus. This is known as an ekklesia. His Bride doesn't require money to love or exist and grow. We'd do well to honor His design for what a church is and not some imagined 'Thing' we have to fund that isn't a real church. 

I don't think a Prostitute is what Jesus had in mind for His Bride. If you want a good look at the Prostitute in the Bible, just read about her in the book of Revelation 17:1-6. Not only is she a Prostitute, but her children are Prostitutes as well. All the different so-called Christian Protestant denominations are the Great Whore's children. They have different names and different ways of running their households. They don't have 'all things in common.' The Baptists don't agree with the Methodists. The Methodists don't agree with the Pentecostals and so on. They are NOT 'in one accord.' They are stubborn and full of pride left to their own devices. Everyone of them believes they're right. That's NOT Christ's Bride! The corset doesn't fall far from the brothel, my friend. I urge you to take a good hard look at it and see if what organization you are beholding to is the Bride, or a Prostitute. I guarantee you, it's NOT the Bride of Christ.

With such large monetary demands needed to be met for the Institutional 'Church' mentioned above, there better be a steady stream of cash-flow each week or things might get dicey for whoever manages these huge numbers. Is 'Church' a multi-billion dollar a year industry? It wouldn't be hard to support this assessment given the numbers we just read and then multiply them with the number of 'Churches' in existence across this country alone. Where does all of this funding come from? First lets look at the 'Want.' It wouldn't be appropriate to say, 'Need,' because in all actuality, these things I will list are all 'wants,' A paid pastor isn't a need; it's a 'want,' or a desire. We could even attache the word 'craving' here. Pastors weren't paid in the early N.T. church. The 'Clergy' made it a Profession in Christian circles as early as the second century.

The next 'want' is a building Program. This is where the mighty cathedrals started to be built. That took a lot of money. As a matter of fact, in Europe, when constructing cathedrals became the norm, beginning with a fella named St. Augustine, the 'Clergy' had a solid grip on the people and politicians in their areas. They had become a theocracy. They began taxing their parishioners to pay for their lavish 'Church' buildings and rectories. This taxation became such a burden on real Bible believers in England named Pilgrims and Ana-baptists, that they decided to take their lives in their own hands and sail the Atlantic to the New World. Some years after these Pilgrims settled in, a whole different group sailed over from England. These people were called Puritans. This was the religious, tax imposing crowd that the Pilgrims and Ana-baptists were trying to get away from. 

As the years rolled on, the Puritans established themselves and started to tax the people again, only they didn't call them taxes any longer. They re-named these taxes, 'Assessments.' If the parishioner refused to pay, they were beaten, banished and their Properties were taken away. If one recalls, this was the time of the infamous 'Witch Hunts;' only it wasn't witches they were burning at the stake. It was those hard-headed Pilgrims and Ana-baptists for refusing to pay these imposed assessments. When the Bill of Rights was composed, one of the first things the authors did was write in, 'No Taxation Without Representation.' The issue then wasn't so much that the Crown was over taxing Colonists, as it was the 'Church' imposing taxes on them. The 'Crown' had representation to tax the people. The business entity 'Church' were the ones who were over-stepping their boundaries and had created their own false authority over the locals.

After the Bill of Rights became the law of the land, the 'Clergy' got their little brains together and decided to revive the Tithe! That's how the practice of income tithing came to be in America! The clergy knew that most of their congregations knew little of the Bible. It was easy for them to pull the wool over their eyes. It was those pesky Pilgrims and Ana-baptists who refused to pay assessments they were worried about. These were the ones who were blowing the clergy's cover. Well, after a lot of persecutions and Propaganda, the Puritan system took over. The mind set became, "It's godly to tithe and support your 'Church' and its pastor." This train of thought even infiltrated our Baptist heritage to where we have succumbed to this false teaching. But the income tithe didn't gain steam for Baptists until the mid 1800's. Our beloved church, which Jesus started as a Fellowship, had been twisted into a revenue earning business entity. Today we've assumed that this current method is the way it's always been. Shame on us for not knowing God's Word as we should! 

I read a great synopses in the same 'Lover or Prostitute?' article regarding the 'Church's' development over the centuries. I wish to share it here because it conveys the truth of this fact so well. A clergyman named Sam Pescoe is often given credit for saying, "When Jesus started His church in Israel, it was a Fellowship. When Christianity arrived in Greece, it became a Philosophy. After years in Rome, it became an Institution. As it spread through Europe, it became a Culture. And when it arrived in America, it became an Enterprise." How succinct is that? It really encapsulates how our Christian heritage formed into what we know today.

Just think; it became an Enterprise! Question: Who starts enterprises? Answer: Entrepreneurs, that's who! These 'Church'/Business pioneers are also known as pastors! They start small by recruiting their congregation and grow it as BIG as they can. Its the same as growing a business, but that's NOT what Jesus wanted. If one doubts what I am saying, all one needs to do is open up their Yellow Pages to the Churches section and view all the pretty colored ads on display. They advertise the building, the pastor, the ministries, and their Programs. The one thing they neglect to advertise most of the time is Jesus! Why? Because in their eyes, that might offend some people. How sad! Has 'Church' become a multi-billion dollar a year industry around the globe? Of course! Need it be? Of course NOT! It was never designed so poorly by our Designer.

If we are blood washed believers in Christ, we weren't meant to name ourselves, 'Blankety-Blank Baptist Church.' See my article, 'Should 'Churches' Have A Name?' for more on this topic. In the Bible, the assemblies were called things like, "the churches at Galatia," or "the church at Corinth." They were described by the Apostles by their location, not a denomination. They were also in some cases labeled in a plural sense because there were more than one in that area. Why is that? Because churches met in homes. A church that meets in a home doesn't need funds to survive. We weren't supposed to have names above the doors. Why? Again, it's because Christ's ekklesia met in homes and all around all through the week. Names were added above the doors when 'Church' began to incorporate themselves. When there is a local, physical body of Believers who 'ARE' a living, breathing, fluid organism, and who meet in homes as it was done in the book of Acts, there is no need for outrageous budget constraints of any kind.

I am delighted to say that I am free from the money demands of an Institutional 'Church' system we can correctly call an industry. Can you say the same? Have you noticed that hundreds of thousands, even millions are spent on buildings, Programs and Professionals in your 'Church?' Guess who funds all of that? You do! Wouldn't it be Scriptural to give your offerings to those who really need it, like widows, the lame and the blind? The Lord says that if we concentrate on those, we'll be blessed. Luke 14:12-14, "Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." 

I hope that the reader finds the same freedom that I have in giving to the ones who need help instead of a Property. These verses never mention a Property. True charity is directed at those who God says need it. A friend shared with me recently that true giving is harder than the world's way because one cannot write off their giving if it is to individuals. My friend was a huge tither before he became aware of my blog. After learning a few things from it, he has re-directed the same amount he directed toward his tithe toward widows and those in need. Again, your pastor doesn't have such needs. He is stationary. He can get a 'real job' to support his family as did the elder/pastors in the early church. After your family is Provided for, and if you have it to give, give to those in real need and thou shall be blessed. The Institutional 'Church' is a multi Billion Dollar a Year Industry. It doesn't need your money. The poor widow on your block or in your 'Church' does. Thank you for visiting ChurchPros. God bless.

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