MountainWings A MountainWings Moment
#2213 Wings Over The Mountains of Life
The Other Side of Money Grubbing Ministers
I ran into an old acquaintance outside of the barbershop.
We had a very long conversation; we talked for nearly three
hours standing on the sidewalk.
He knew that I was a pastor of a church and finally just point
blank asked me, "Why are ministers so often money grubbing and
ALWAYS talking about money?"
That is always a delicate subject and perhaps one that keeps
many out of church. The perception is that ministers and
churches are just after money, and televangelists appear to
constantly plead for money.
So he asked, "Why are ministers so often money grubbing and
ALWAYS talking about money?"
As I explained to him, let me try to enlighten some of you to
"the other side." This issue is longer than normal but most
have never heard "the other side" from a minister's view.
I will make four points as briefly as I can.
There are ministers and churches that ARE just after your money!
The Bible spoke of them in Biblical times and they exist today.
Jesus had very little good to say about most of the ministers
(Priests, Scribes and Pharisees) of that day. He called them
covetous (lovers of money) and said they put burdens on the
people that they themselves would not bear.
Human nature has not really changed since Biblical times.
There will always be the counterfeit among the real.
There will always be the evil motives among the pure.
This isn't just limited to ministry but exists in every area of
life. There are crooked police, crooked politicians, crooked
judges, crooked lawyers, crooked bankers, crooked teachers,
crooked car salesmen, crooked doctors, crooked you-name-it and
yes, even crooked ministers.
All religions, races, nationalities, and time periods have those
ministers sincerely trying to help others (the sincere), and
those mainly trying to help themselves (the crooked).
No one has a monopoly or is excluded.
There is counterfeit money. Just because there is counterfeit
money does not cause you to throw ALL of your money away.
So how do you tell?
Follow the money trail. If you have access to the financial
records, the books will tell the story if they are accurate.
There will be no need for explanation one way or another. If you
examine the books thoroughly and look at the portion of the
church's money that goes to the minister in whatever form, you
will have a glimpse of heart and motive.
Wherever the treasure is, there you will find the true heart.
That's the first point, there is the genuine and the crooked,
and we are talking about the genuine, not the crooked.
Since I am a pastor and essentially have three separate voices
that reach people, I talk from a view of the other side from
three different vantage points.
There is our church, there is the television ministry, and then
there is MountainWings and the AirJesus.com websites. Each
reaches people in a different way, and each has its unique money
Point Two - The Church:
Most Christian groups, including our church, advocate the Old
Testament law of tithing. Tithing is giving ten percent of your
income to the church. This MountainWings issue is not to debate
tithing, but to show a pattern.
Even among churches where tithing is rigorously preached, an
average of 35% tithe. Nearly two out of three won't, even when
it is vigorously preached as doctrine within their church.
The average giving percentage among Christians is 1.8% of their
income. Statistically, the richer you are, the less percentage
After I looked at the individual giving records at our church, I
discovered such a low percentage of givers tithing that I had a
rather harsh tirade about it. If your ears can stand it, it is
Point Three – The Television Ministry:
The quote "walk a mile in a man's shoes before judging him"
applies to televangelists. I am a televangelist. I have been on
local cable television in the Atlanta area for over nine years.
In the beginning of our ministry, I set forth a policy that we
would send cassette tapes to ANYONE in the U.S. who requested
them without charge. We would pay all expenses.
Why did I do this?
I didn't want one person to be prevented from receiving a sermon
that may bless them and change their lives or someone that they
knew because they didn't have any money at the time.
We mail the tape, along with a letter asking them to send a
donation to help support the tape ministry.
Plainly printed on the outside of each envelope is the cost of
the postage, the package weighs two ounces. The envelope costs
money, the tape costs money, the label on the envelope and on
the tape costs money, and the machines to make the tapes costs
money. We have to pay staff to make, label and mail the tapes.
No one who receives a tape questions that it costs the ministry
money for them to receive it. When I started, I assumed that at
least half of the people would send at least a small donation to
cover the cost of their tape.
Out of each 1,000 tapes that we send, guess how many send us a
No, you are way off. Your guess was way too high.
Six out of every 1,000 people send us a donation to help pay for
the cost of the tapes they receive.
If I hadn't been in ministry, if I didn't know the facts, I'm
not sure I would believe it either. I would have never figured
that Christians, ordering Christian tapes, wouldn't so much as
send anything in return for merchandise they received.
It wasn't that they didn't like the tapes. They saw the sermon
on TV and that's what prompted them to order the tapes in the
first place, so they had to like it. All the people that saw it
also had cable TV, which costs an average of $40 a month. Cable
TV is not an absolute necessity, so that also meant everyone
ordering it had $40 a month to spend on TV.
We even have some viewers that order a tape of EVERY sermon and
to this day have never sent a dime to help.
I could speculate on the reasons all day long, but I know the
facts. Six out of every 1,000 people send a donation to help.
Although those six donations help, they nowhere near pay the
cost for the tapes for the rest of the 994.
If the tape ministry were required to stand on its own
financially, not to make a profit, but just to break even,
I would have to plead on each broadcast for money. I would be
labeled as a money grubbing preacher just to break even on
sending the tapes to the viewers and that doesn't even count
television time, which is another large expense.
VirtualChurch.com has a similar pattern. We get thousands who
attend service at VirtualChurch.com each week. Approximately one
per 5,000 sends something to help yet many send us words of
encouragement and we get thousands of prayer requests per month.
We get thousands asking for help but less than a dozen giving help.
Words are nice, but you sure can't pay any bills with words.
Point Four – MountainWings (this was first written in July 2002)
As I write this, MountainWings has over 700,000 subscribers.
Just as with the tapes, there is no requirement for payment.
Also just as with the tapes, it is costly to send out 700,000
emails every day plus advertise and support MountainWings.
Just check to see how much it costs to send 700,000 emails each
day for a solid month.
At the bottom of each issue are instructions for making a
MountainWings began January 1, 2001 and has been published daily
since. Out of over 700,000 subscribers, GUESS how many
donations we have received as of this writing, 19 months later?
Go ahead – Guess
No, that's way too high.
No, not 88,000
We have received about $3,500.00 in total donations. Of that
amount, one lady mailed a check for $400 and then put $450 on
her credit card. One man sent a check for $365, one dollar a
day for MountainWings. Most donations were $30. The donations
have paid for 4% of the costs of MountainWings. We really
appreciate the 88, but only 88 out of 700,000 sent something to
help with expenses. That's the point.
Our email box is flooded with testimonies daily. We get
testimonies ranging from giving people a good feeling to saving
them from suicide. Testimonies boost our spirits and keep us
encouraged but realistically, they don't help pay our bills
just as words don't help pay your bills.
If MountainWings depended on donations, we would have to plead
every other issue for money and probably also be chocked full
of advertising like most other email publications.
This is a realistic view from the other side. None of the
figures have been exaggerated. Point 3 and 4 are from direct
experience so I don't have to worry about the accuracy of those
figures. I know they are correct.
I understand why the good, the honest, and the sincere ministers
have to focus so much on money. They are responsible for paying
bills and people generally won't do right on their own, even
when the right thing is so obvious. The people are good people.
They have good hearts but somehow, just don't put it as a
priority to pay something if they don't have to.
Most ministries don't have millions of dollars in the bank.
They don't have gold plated faucets. They, like their members,
struggle each month with basic expenses, like the water bill.
The average church has 60-70 members.
3,300 churches in America permanently close their doors each
week. The reason most close is probably related to not having
This MountainWings issue may provoke a lot of controversy.
Some don't agree with tithing but understand this issue is not
about tithing, it's about the fact that people usually won't do
what is required without a lot of pushing. When you push,
you sound like a money grubber.
Talk to a minister on the radio and they will tell you up front,
listeners won't contribute enough to pay for the radio time.
Even when they have a devout listening audience, they still
won't financially support it.
If you have a radio or TV ministry, large or small, you were
probably saying amen as you read this.
If you have an internet daily, weekly or monthly email, you were
probably saying double amen's as you read this.
Yes, there are the crooked out there but that's not the issue,
that's the excuse.
I challenge you to find the sincere and do your part to make
sure they are not one of the 3,300 that close each week.
Money grubbing and always talking about money?
There are many, YES.
But there are so many that it's just not so,
not according to the view from the other side.
~A MountainWings Original~
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