Category Archives: Prosperity Gospel
And that is when things are going well!
Imagine how roller-coastery things can get in the midst of a bad economy. People are losing their jobs, the offering goes down, you have to let staff go, you can no longer serve free coffee…if you’re not careful, the roller coaster can make you sick.
So I got to thinking: if Jesus were a year and a half into his ministry today, what would he do in the midst of a bad economy? What would be the markers of his ministry? How would he survive the economy? Here are some ideas:
Radical Calls to Discipleship
Jesus would have the audacity to ask someone to leave everything behind for the sake of following him and if they didn’t he would move on. Jesus wouldn’t be interested in persuading the lukewarm. He would constantly say, “All or nothing.” His vision was such that the half-hearted would impede it. Thus, he turned several (potentially even many) would-be disciples away.
Extreme Focus on People
Jesus’ ministry would never be too busy for people. If someone was in need, he would stop and care for them be it through healing or just conversation. This is true even if Jesus had a hundred things on his agenda.
Quality Not Quantity
Jesus wouldn’t care about how many people were following him. In fact, his teaching about dying to self, loving one’s enemies, and life in the Kingdom caused many to stop following him. But Jesus would be okay with that because he would probably think that just a few well-formed, well-trained disciples could make much more of a difference than a thousand kind of formed, somewhat-trained disciples.
Resourcing Ministry Through People
Jesus would have a huge vision for ministry and it would take a massive amount of resources to accomplish it. But Jesus wouldn’t beg for money or take a special offering. Instead, he would enable and equip people to do the ministry trusting that when they seek first the Kingdom of God, everything else is given as well.
Focus on His Mission
Most of all, Jesus would have laser focus on his mission. He wouldn’t get side-tracked with political issues or be co-opted by what someone else thinks he should do. He would know exactly what his mission was and would give that mission his full attention, making sure that every activity, every conversation were pointing to his vision.
In other words, were Jesus to have come today in the midst of a bad economy, he wouldn’t have changed a thing. Sure, things would look different, he might wear jeans or travel by car. He might be known for hanging out at bars and getting in the faces of popular preachers, but his values would remain the same.
We church leaders have to ask whether we share the same values. Sometimes we say we do, but we don’t actually live out those values. And sometimes, our values are just plain different: quantity, big crowds, easy preaching, etc.
So what’s my point?
If, in the midst of a bad economy, we are forced to change either held or lived values, our values were askew to begin with. I cannot imagine Jesus’ church sharing in the same struggles that many of us do. But I don’t think that’s because Jesus would have some sort of Joel Osteen celebrity status with lots of rich people to fill up the offering plate. It would be because Jesus had different values than we do, values that were wholly independent of any sort of economical health – that wouldn’t just be an accident or the result of some divine gift, it would be an intentional, calculated effort to build a church that nothing could overcome – not even the economy.
And if our churches couldn’t do that, we may need to leave the building of a booming-economy-dependent-church.
Participate: Write down your held values. Do they match your lived values? Do they match Jesus’?
Engage: Write down the changes your church has had to make as a result of the economy. What would it look like to keep those changes long-term?
Own: Identify one lived value of yours that doesn’t line up with Jesus and outline a strategy for changing it.
What do you think, were there other characteristics of Jesus’ ministry that would thrive in the midst of a bad economy? How might Jesus structure his ministry budget different from ours?
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif., Feb. 16 /Christian Newswire/ — According to a recent study by Barna, church leaders are more willing to cut spending, let go of staff and reduce giving to missions than they are to make changes related to their buildings. House church leader Ken Eastburn commented on the findings pointing out the hypocrisy of church leaders, “No church leader would ever say that their buildings are more important than their people or the mission of God, but that is exactly what their behavior communicates.”
The study, conducted among 1,114 senior and executive pastors during the fourth quarter of 2009, found that only 3% of churches were making changes related to their facilities in an effort to adapt to the economy and save money. The most common change was reduced spending (21% of churches) while a very close 18% have also made cuts to staff. Another 4% reported reduced giving to missions or missionaries.
“These numbers represent a reality that many of us have been aware of for some time,” says Eastburn, “We have placed far too much value on our buildings and it is hindering our ability to respond appropriately to what God is doing in the midst of a struggling economy.”
Barna Group President David Kinnaman also noted in the article that virtually no churches were rethinking the future of congregational ministry or the sustainability of church campuses.
“Anything that goes unquestioned in the Kingdom of God is close to becoming an idol,” continues Eastburn, “God could very well be leaving the building and most of us wouldn’t know it because we’re too busy bowing down at the feet of what we’ve managed to build with our own hands.”
Eastburn is a leader with The Well, formerly a traditional Southern Baptist church that transitioned in 2005 to a network of home-based churches in California and Colorado.
The Well hosts 10-15 members at each of its five locations on a weekly basis. Eastburn and other members post their experiences on a blog maintained by the church, http://www.leavethebuildingblog.com, with the purpose of interacting with individuals from traditional and house church backgrounds.
He has the power to heal the blind, lame, poor, etc…. but not enough power to save my marriage. The testimony of so many Christians Leaders and followers today. The best way to spell…Hypocrisy!
NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
DALLAS — Not long ago, the Fellowship Church in Grapevine was one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the nation.
Its pastor, Ed Young, was making national headlines by encouraging married couples to have more sex.
But since that time, sources say membership has waned and some say Pastor Young may have lost his way — putting himself and secrecy over God.
He’s splashy and hip; his message contemporary and cool. His marketing is tops in the world of mega-evangelism, making huge waves with his sermon in 2008 titled “Seven Days of Sex.”
But in the past few months, it’s not theology but physics that may be impacting Young. Namely: What goes up must come down.
One former staff member who says he was close to Young but wishes not to be identified, described it this way: “The lack of accountability. The lavish lifestyle that keeps increasing, while the attendance keeps decreasing.”
Over the past few weeks, News 8 has been in contact with a number of individuals who were once close to Young at his massive Fellowship Church in Grapevine, disturbed by his direction and treatment of staff.
Young recently replaced his chief financial officer and replaced him with his personal attorney, business partner and fishing buddy, Dennis Brewer Jr.
With Brewer’s help and a complex series of business creations and transactions, Young is now jetting around the country in a French-made Falcon 50 private jet; estimated value, $8.4 million.
Records obtained by News 8 indicate Fellowship Church became the operator of the jet in March of 2007. News 8 discovered the jet parked in a hangar at Alliance Airport north of Fort Worth, tucked away where only a select few can see it.
Those who hear him preach every Sunday have never been told about the aircraft.
“The staff members are told that there is no plane, and several staff members who have actually been on the plane have denied that there is a plane,” said the former employee source.
Young, who declined an on-camera interview, told News 8 through a spokesman he “travels globally offering messages of inspiration and transformation to his peers and other pastors.”
He makes no mention of traveling in a personal jet.
But FAA records show that as soon as Young took possession of the jet in 2007, the aircraft logged a week-long trip to the Bahamas.
One month later, Young’s jet logged a six-day trip to Chetumal, Mexico, also known as the gateway to Belize.
But it’s not just the jet and the international travel the Young keeps out of sight.
News 8 has also learned that Young’s 10,000 square foot, $1.5 million estate on Lake Grapevine is not listed on the tax rolls in his name, but rather in the name of “Palometa Revocable Trust.”
Records show that Young was paid $240,000 a year as a parsonage allowance; that’s in addition what sources say is a $1 million yearly pastor’s salary.
Young declined to discuss his salary and compensation with News 8, but his spokesman said the pastor’s pay “is governed without his participation by an Independent Compensation Committee, relying on outside consultation with knowledgeable and experienced church leaders.”
News 8 has also learned that in 2007, Young sold the intellectual property of Fellowship Church’s marketing Web site, CreativePastors. He also sold the church’s membership mailing list to a newly-formed, for-profit company called EY Publishing.
Today, CreativePastors.com is used by the Youngs to sell his sermons and books for profit.
“When did the intellectual property, when did the preaching and the Bible notes and the books become intellectual property for the pastor?” asked Ole Anthony of the Trinity Foundation in Dallas. “That’s the property of the church.”
Anthony says he and his Trinity Foundation investigative team have been monitoring Ed Young for the past three years. He believes Young has fallen into the same trap as many other televangelists he has investigated over the years.
“But now he’s just bought in to greed in the name of God,” Anthony said. “They are sanctifying greed, and that’s what’s so evil.”
In the past few years, Young and his attorney, Dennis Brewer Jr., have created a number of for-profit companies generating money apart from Fellowship Church, including: Creative Pastors, CreativePastors.com, Creality Enterprises, Creality Publishing, EY Publishing, Ed Young Resources and UOI Resources.
All the businesses list the fifth floor of Dennis Brewer’s law office in Las Colinas as their office address.
But the resources used to generate the profits come, in part, from the not-for-profit Fellowship Church. For example, Ed’s favorite sermons that were delivered at the church.
SMU law professor Wayne Shaw is a former IRS agent who specializes in tax law. He says it’s not unusual for pastors to accrue wealth from church resources, but it must be disclosed and separate from any for-profit business.
“They’ve been given a very special duty, and they get benefits for getting that special duty, such as tax exemptions, charitable contribution deductions,” Shaw said. “I think it’s owed to the public that there is transparency that the public sees that there is not something bad going on.”
According to Young’s spokesman, Larry Ross, “any transactions between the senior pastor and the church are conducted at arms-length with full disclosure to and approval by the board.”
No one is accusing Young of breaking any laws, but perhaps he is violating the covenant of honesty with his congregation.
When we asked Young specifically if he has a personal jet, his spokesman told us only that he travels using commercial, charter and leased aircraft, and that he reimburses the church for any personal trips.
Young’s spokesman also told News 8 his board approves all spending decisions, and their financial books are audited by an outside accounting firm.
Most professing Christians in America are infected with at least some measure of the health and wealth gospel, said one theologian. That is, believers have no concept of a love and a joy that does not eliminate hardship and heartache, Sam Storms of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City said at a pastors conference this week.
Most professing Christians in America are infected with at least some measure of the health and wealth gospel, said one theologian.
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close John Piper – Why I abominate the prosperity gospelThat is, believers have no concept of a love and a joy that does not eliminate hardship and heartache, Sam Storms of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City said at a pastors conference this week.
“For most professing believers if God is love He must promise to minimize my struggles and maximize my pleasure,” he lamented. Many believe it’s their spiritual birthright to experience comfort and prosperity and that it’s God divine obligation to provide it.
It’s a disease that’s rampant in the culture and in the church. People are inundated with messages from powerbrokers, media, entertainment, TV evangelists and bestselling authors that say joy is inextricably bound up in material prosperity, physical health, relational success and all the comforts and conveniences Western society provides.
For most people, joy and suffering are incompatible, Storms noted.
Thus preachers have a difficult task at hand in communicating to such a culture a genuine joy found in Christ.
The so-called prosperity gospel that teaches wealth and good health is a sign of God’s favor and blessing is prevalent in the church, Storm lamented. Underlining the seriousness of the problematic theology many preachers have picked up, the Oklahoma City pastor called it a “corrosive and disintegrative pox” on the church and “a disease far more infectious and ultimately fatal to the soul than the worst bubonic plague and the affects it might have on the human body.”
“We have to fight this infection in the body of Christ,” he emphatically told pastors at the Desiring God conference in Minneapolis.
But the blame for the rampant “disease” shouldn’t fall on the TV evangelists, Storms noted.
“I want to lay it (the blame) at our feet,” he said.
“It’s the pastors and leaders of the church today who fail to explain from the biblical text how hardship and tribulation are actually used by God to expose the superficiality of all the human material props on which we rely,” he explained. “We failed … to show … how hardship and persecution and slander compel us to rely on the all-sufficiency of everything God is for us in Jesus.”
That failure has left most professing Christians unable to grasp “the simple truth” that “infinitely more important and of immeasurably greater value than our physical comfort in this world is our spiritual conformity to Christ,” Storms noted.
And conformity to the image of Christ is orchestrated through trials and hardship.
“If I suffer it is because God values something in me greater than my physical comfort and health that He in His infinite wisdom and kindness knows can only be attained by means of physical affliction and the lessons of submission and dependency and trust in Him that I learn from it,” he said.
“That’s how suffering serves joy.”
Everyday people are hearing about a joy less durable and far inferior than the one offered by God. Yet, Storms asked pastors, when was the last time you expounded on the nature of the fullness of joy, … the superior beauty of God?
Citing the work of 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards, Storms advised pastors on how a “Christian hedonist” should preach on the pursuit of joy.
“The pursuit of God brings ‘delights of a more sublime nature’, ‘pleasures that are more solid and substantial . . . vastly sweeter, and more exquisitely delighting, and are of a more satisfying nature . . . that exceed the pleasures of the vain, sensual youth, as much as gold and pearls do dirt and dung,'” he said, reading from Edwards’ sermon “Youth and the Pleasures of Piety.”
He continued, “Loving God ‘is an affection that is of a more sublime and excellent nature’ than the love of any earthly object. Such love is always mutual, and thus the love one receives from Christ ‘vastly exceeds the love of any earthly lover.'”
“Edwards argued that the problem isn’t the pursuit of pleasure but the willingness of uninformed minds to settle for comparatively inferior joys when God offers us unsurpassed and far more durable delights,” Storms explained.
The Bridgeway pastor reminded fellow ministers that delighting themselves in the Lord isn’t a choice, but a command and duty. Sin, he said, is denying a fillet mignon so you can fill your bellies with rancid ground beef.
We are not pursuing pleasure without God, but in Him, Storms stressed.
Speakers at the Feb. 1-3 Desiring God conference devoted their talks on the foundation of Christian Hedonism, a term coined by Desiring God’s John Piper, and the pursuit of joy.
Bob Blincoe, U.S. director of Frontiers in Phoenix, Ariz., defined Christian Hedonism as “the desire for God,” “desiring Him more than all other things” and “the confidence that there is nothing else worthy of our desire, nor rival treasure to treasuring Him.”
“Christian Hedonists … neglect every distraction, every attraction, every seduction, every sinful thought, and every temptation because we have set our hearts on the far exceeding treasure: God Himself,” Blincoe said.
The Cash Cow Kingdom…how many are there milking the cash cow. The church has become a Cash Cow Kingdom. The money just pours into the coffers of the men who are the only true prophets and apostles of God???. The mandatory tithes of 10% of the faithfuls’ gross incomes are just the tip of an immense iceberg.
The former finance director of a historic downtown church has been charged with stealing more than $500,000 from the institution over six years, court records show.
Jason Todd Reynolds, 38, of Bowie was arrested last week on a wire fraud charge. He is accused of using the money to finance the purchases of luxury cars, trips and jewelry, U.S. Secret Service agent Melissa T. Blake said in court papers.
Reynolds worked for National City Christian Church from 2002 until the scheme was uncovered in 2008, the agent wrote. The finance director used the church’s American Express card to make about $300,000 in personal purchases, including down payments for a Land Rover and Lexus SUV, according to the court papers.
He also purchased an $8,718 two-carat diamond ring and a $7,600 leather sectional sofa with the card, Blake alleged.
Blake also accused Reynolds of writing himself more than $200,000 in church checks over the years.
Reynolds, who could not be reached for comment, was fired in June last year. He appeared at a brief hearing Dec. 23 in the District’s federal court and was released on personal recognizance.
Have the church become like the Government? Spending recklessly over their budgets and expect the people to bail them out. What happened to being good Stewarts?
Before you can teach anyone something you must first be one yourself, unless the church is saying to us it is okay to overspend (run up our credit cards and expect God to bail us out) and everything will be okay. If best practice tells us we should have at least three months of income in our saving in case of a Job lost…does this mean the teacher of stewardship is exempt?
Their job will be to collect all the food produced in the good years ahead and stockpile the grain under Pharaoh’s authority, storing it in the towns for food. This grain will be held back to be used later during the seven years of famine that are coming on Egypt. This way the country won’t be devastated by the famine. This seemed like a good idea to Pharaoh and his officials. Genesis 41:35-37
If this seemed good for Pharaoh and his officials…shouldn’t it be a bit of wisdom for the leaders of the Body of Christ? Makes you wonder if the Word of God is really being used to edify the Body…do we just live to fulfill the desires of men?
Pastor Rick Warren of the Southern California megachurch Saddleback Church is encouraging his parishioners to donate $900,000 within two days.
In an “urgent” letter posted on the church’s web site Wednesday, Warren explained that church expenses went up this year to help care for the financially hurting community while the end-of-year donations are down. Saddleback needs the $900,000 by New Year’s Eve to stay out of debt, the founding pastor stated.
“On the last weekend of 2009, our total offerings were less than half of what we normally receive – leaving us $900,000 in the red for the year, unless you help make up the difference today and tomorrow,” stated the letter.
Warren noted that ten percent of the more than 22,000 members of the church are out of work this year. To help the struggling members as well as the community in general, Saddleback bolstered its charity services such as its food pantry.
The Saddleback food pantry fed 400 hurting families in the community every month, and over 2,000 different families received food assistance in 2009, Warren highlighted.
Other Saddleback charity services to help those hurt by the recession included a breakfast and homeless ministry that helped thousands in the poorest parts of Southern California’s Orange County, financial coaching, and a ministry that collects donated cars to help those struggling with transportation.
Warren, in a recent interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, said the number one thing he believes American politicians need to do domestically is “get America back to work.”
“I think before health care or anything else, we need to get people back to work,” Warren told NBC’s David Gregory last month.
“There’s nearly 10 percent unemployment. That’s the equivalent of Canada being unemployed. And so we have to look at this fact that if we get people back to work, then we can work on some of these other issues,” he said.
Given the high levels of unemployment, Saddleback members said they were not surprised by Warren’s appeal for donations. Some members noted that people in their small groups were out of work and they are eager to support the church in its time of need.
“When Pastor Rick asked for help [after the 2004 South Asian tsunami], we did it in one offering,” recalled Kim Offhaus to the Orange County Register. “People at Saddleback are very generous.”
Meanwhile, church member Eric Bezko praised Warren for how he handled the church’s financial situation.
“It’s like people can give a Christmas present to the church,” Bezko commented.
Warren concluded his urgent letter to Saddleback parishioners by calling them “the most generous church family” he knows that has “always come through when asked.”
“I love you so much,” Warren wrote. “It is a deep privilege to be your pastor. I will be teaching again this weekend and writing to you about the lessons I’ve learned in 2009.”
Earlier this year, Warren gave the invocation at the inauguration of President Obama and drew the attention of secular media with his comments about gay marriage and California’s Proposition 8. The Hope You Need, the follow-up to Warren’s best-selling novel The Purpose Driven Life, will be released in 2010.
Is it really a double portion of money that we need…or would a single portion of repentance be much more pleasing to God?
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
Dallas megachurch pastor and entrepreneur T.D. Jakes usually doesn’t make declarations or predictions for the new year.
But the year 2010 is different.
In a video message, The Potter’s House pastor said he expects 2010 to be a year of “double portion.”
Considering the global economic slump that many have suffered through over the past year or so, Jakes sees light at the end of a tunnel.
“The Bible is not mystical about loss. It’s just the modern day teachers that we have today that led us down the wrong path to thinking that there would be no challenges,” he noted. “The Bible has always been clear that there would be losses. But He promised to restore the years [of] cankerworms.”
Alluding to a biblical passage in the Old Testament book of Joel, Jakes called 2009 a year when cankerworms, palmerworms and locusts ate into people’s resources, retirements and homes. But just as Joel prophesied in the Bible, Jakes believes God will restore in the new year what was taken away.
“When you look at 2010, I believe it is time for us … to look at the fact that we have been through enough things, been through enough turmoil that now we’re ready to move to the next level,” he declared in the video message, while noting that 20 is “10 carried into a double dimension.”
“Whenever God pulls back a bow, the arrow is going to go further than it’s ever gone before,” he said. “I believe that the turning point is going to be 2010.
“I believe because we have crossed this Jordan like Elijah and Elisha that we are now eligible to step into a double portion. Financially, yes. We need it; our country needs it; our world needs it. But beyond that, wisdom, inspiration, a new development of faith; I believe new ministries are going to burst wide open.”
Tens of thousands are expected to ring in the new year with Jakes, who is often identified as a prosperity gospel preacher. The charismatic preacher recently announced a “historic Watch Night” service that will involve multi-site technology. Along with a New Year’s Eve service at The Potter’s House worship center in Dallas on West Kiest Boulevard, the megachurch will also be hosting the service in two other locations via satellite.
“Open your arms up to God and receive your blessing,” Jakes says in his invitation.
While optimistic for the new year, Jakes articulated that the year of blessing and restoration will come to those who are prepared and have a strategy in place and to those who have been dealt setbacks but refused to die.
“If no strategy is in place to propel yourself forward … you won’t be prepared to move forward to the next dimension,” he emphasized. “If you’re planning to use all the struggle of 2009 to propel you for 2010, I believe you will be blessed.”
He noted, “I’ve been teaching our church to plan to be blessed. It’s not accidental; it’s not a mistake. There’s a strategy to it. Sow your seed now.”
The Potter’s House is one of the largest churches in the nation with more than 30,000 members. As the church states in its description, Jakes’ ministry rivals many corporations employing nearly 400 staff members.
You would think the Pimping Prophets would have a first hand insight on the famine (recession) and would have fill their barns to be prepared for the times to come. These guys are so far off the path of being a follower of Christ it is ridiculous. Yet, people are so hungry for a king they will flock to this fleecier of the flock. If only they would repent and turn away from their own lust—people would actually see the King of kings. If not the King will continue to slowly reveal their shame.
Could the “demonically inspired financial attack” in reality be a divine inspired message from God?
It is time the children of God to stop fertilizing the vineyards of Satan’s helpers and truly seek God’s will with all their hearts.
The Rev. Rod ParsleyWorld Harvest Church said in a statement this afternoon that the church has no plans to close any ministries in 2010, including its schools, despite its Web site’s assertion that ministries are “in jeopardy.”
The Rev. Rod Parsley has issued a desperate plea for money, telling his flock that he is facing a “demonically inspired financial attack” that is threatening his ministry.
Parsley is asking for donations by Dec. 31, calling that date an “unavoidable deadline” during an episode of Breakthrough posted yesterday on http://www.rodparsley.com. Breakthrough is Parsley’s television show.
A message titled “Crisis — Urgent” on the Web site says ministries such as Breakthrough and World Harvest Bible College need help.
The headline of the appeal for donations reads: “Will you help me take back what the devil stole?”
When asked to comment yesterday, Parsley’s World Harvest Church issued a statement saying the recession caused a decline in member giving in 2009, which has led to a fourth-quarter deficit of $3 million despite a 30 percent reduction in the budget.
This year, the church settled for $3.1 million with a family whose son was spanked at its day-care center in 2006, to the point his buttocks and legs were covered with welts and abrasions.
The boy, then 2, said he was spanked with a “knife” by a substitute teacher. His parents, Michael and Lacey Faieta, believe it was a ruler.
The Faietas said the payment was made this year. During yesterday’s Breakthrough broadcast, Parsley referred to a $3 million check he had to write from the ministry.
“The Faieta decision imposed against us earlier this year has made our circumstances more serious,” the statement said. No indication was given as to why the money must be raised by Dec. 31 or what specifically could happen if it’s not.
The Faietas said Parsley refused to meet personally with them and that the church did not apologize or take accountability for the beating.
The Faietas said today that they had seen Parsley’s Web appeal.
Mr. Faieta said he and his wife were “disgusted” and “saddened” by Parsley’s words.
This afternoon, in a second statement, the church said, “We continue to pray for the Faietas and acknowledge that this experience has been difficult for them as well.”