Church leaders experience material success, require sound judgement
American megachurches attract thousands in weekly attendance of services. Megachurch ministers and tele-evangelists Greg Laurie, Joel Osteen and Billy Graham possess personal net worths that surpass $25M through their work in the ministry.
God blesses some with materialistic wealth, that can be used to benefit others or selfish gain. In James 3:1, the writer states, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
Christians and non-believers contemplate the ethics of church leaders developing such a fortune. Some argue that ministers who achieve great financial and materialistic wealth go against the doctrines stressed in the scriptures about proper conduct in ministry.
However, leaders in the church who accumulate great material wealth through their work should not be rebuked, but held to higher standard in how they use their blessing of money.
Billy Graham or “America’s pastor” used his influence and wealth to demonstrate the love of God across the world. Graham led 417 “crusades” to over 210 million people in over 185 countries. He utilized his wealth to spread the love of God instead of personal gain.
Kirbyjon Caldwell lead pastor of Houston megachurch, Windsor Village United Methodist Church, was recently indicted of scamming vulnerable investors of over $3.5M. Caldwell sold Chinese bonds from the 1940s that are worth nothing in China’s communist economy. One preacher’s misuse of money can reflect poorly on the entire body of believers.
Similarly to Graham’s crusades, pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries leads non-profit “Harvest Crusades” that promote the Christian faith. According to the Harvest website, attendance of the crusade is free of charge and the organization does not profit from any parking fees or concession sales. Laurie effectively uses both his personal success and the affluence of his church to further the gospel in a positive way.
During Hurricane Harvey, Houston, Texas, experienced massive flooding that destroyed homes and left desolated citizens seeking aid and shelter. Minister Joel Osteen’s megachurch, Lakewood Church remained closed to refugees until pressure from the public forced its doors to open.
Olsteen cited reasons including the church’s lack of preparedness for an influx of displaced persons and no request made by the city for Lakewood to become a shelter. Despite his defense of the church’s initial response to Harvey, he still originally denied the right to safety too many people desperately in need of the help the church could provide, properly staffed or not.
This misuse of church finances, facilities and resources contradicts the Christian faith and goes against the commands of Jesus. In the Bible verse Mark 12:31, Jesus says, “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
No Christian, minister or person is innocent of selfish spending. One must always remain vigilant on how they spend their money.
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