CONFESSIONS OF A MEGA CHURCH MEMBER
Senator Grassley's most recent actions have compelled me to make a confession as a mega church member. He is exposing what an increasing amount of us have known for years. These "CEO-Pastor- Reverend-Doctor's" have been fleecing the flock for years. For them, money does matter, in fact it is the only thing that matters. Some may ask why this piece was not coined 'Confessions of a Former Mega Church Member". My response is simple, I choose to remain there in order to continue my efforts to expose them and reveal the truth to others, whether they can handle the truth or not. Now, there are those in the flock that follow these "ÇEO-Pastor- Reverend-Doctor's" blindly. They are fully committed to upholding their spiritual shepherds, inspite of. I recently viewed a broadcast in which a mega church member was asked her opinion regarding the fact that her "CEO-Pastor-Reverend-Doctor" was being investigated by Senator Grassley's committee. Her response was that her leader was an anointed and blessed man. She went on to say that he has done nothing but good for her and the others within the mega church. She vowed to give him her last dime if asked to. After making these cultish comments, she drove off in her broke down automobile, which had duct tape on the windows and a license plate hanging from the fender, yelling, "Praise God for him!".
One thing is for certain, he is definitely "praising God" for her and her loyal stupidity and Godless ignorance, as he drives his fully loaded Bentley, Jaguar, and Mercedes down the same road week after week.
The sad fact of the matter is that a majority of these leaders could never make it on their own merits in the corporate world or any other world. Knowing this, they took up preaching as an easy means to make a living, as Booker T. Washington commented in his book, "Up from Slavery" over a half of a century ago.
As a mega church member myself, I was blinded by my commitment to God and desire to be obedient to my faith, which was taken advantage of by the 'Mand of Gawd" that impersonated and continues to impersonate a shepherd in the place that I worship. For nearly a decade, I religiously gave of my time, talent, and tithe.
As a long time leader within the church, I did not hesistate to spend forty hours or more a week organizing and serving in the ministry that I believed I was called to, despite having to work my regular job at the same time. This did not include the nine hour day that I served each Sunday, arriving at 6:30am and leaving after 3:00pm. I did whatever was required in order to ensure that we provided excellence in the ministry services that we provided.
I was not alone. We had hundreds of dedicated and talented individuals that were just as committed to serving each other and our communities as I was....without pay, without benefits, without thanks. Our sole motivation was to meet the needs of people, not expecting anything in return. That was it, nothing more, nothing less.
Furthermore, we did this in the face of abuse, misuse, and ridicule of paid church employees whose incompentency and impure motives drove them to have an adversarial relationship with the volunteers, members, and com-munity at large.
We were a faith-based, God-inspired community that felt that it was our responsibility to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters and work tirelessly, as a commmunity, to improve the lives of everyone around us, even if it meant that we went without the conveniences of life. That was our reward. Our pastor was one of us, a servant.
Gradually, this all changed. We lost our sense of community. We abandoned our commitment to serve each other, and we no longer worked to develop and nurture relationships with each other. The change became evident when we moved from our inner city, brick, old-fashioned, neighborhood church building to a state of the art facility that has the appearance of a corporate building as opposed to a place of worship.
Suddenly, we were transformed from a church with a business component to a business with a church component. People were and are no longer the focus, but are a means to the larger focus which is profit.
Ministry funding was gradually decreased in favor of funding affiliates such as daycares, private schools, community foundations, and a credit union. Henchmen and entourages surrounded church leaders, including the pastor, in order to ensure that the common member would not have access to the man. Of course, if you were willing to make a sizeable contribution to pastor, his door was opened and you might even have an opportunity to shake his hand.
Modest staff salaries that are the norm for non profit organizations were exchanged for Fortune 500 salaries with extensive benefits. Cronism was and is still chosen repeatedly over competency as the now "CEO-Pastor/reverend/doctor utilizes the church as a means to ensure the financial security of his family and friends, despite that they clearly lacked the skills and experience for the roles. The competency of volunteer servants is exchanged for an incompetent, unethical, and uncaring staff of individuals that view their role as a "job" with a sense of entitlement, as opposed to a "ministry".
Policies and procedures that ensure the protection and well-being of all individuals, especially our children and seniors, were and are repeatedly compromised in an effort to increase the bottom line.
Now, we can address Senator Grassley's focus. Funds that were donated with the intent of being utilized for ministry efforts were "reassigned" to the business pursuits of the church in an effort to offset the enormous financial deficits that were resulting due to poor management and unethical practices.
Annual church conference after annual conference would be held where the financial reports were either incomplete, inaccurate, or unavailable. However, this never stopped the "CEO-Pastor-Reverend-Doctor" from holding votes to approve the budget. He felt no obligation to operate in integrity, transparency, or accountability.
The absence of accurate financial data also never prevented mindless, blind, and weak members from acquiescing to any intiative that was presented by their shepherd in wolves clothing. Like sheep to the slaughter...they followed his lead.
Having said all of this, I will now voice my support of Senator Grassley's efforts to expose any and all mega churches leaders that deem it appropriate to live excessively when the individuals within their churches, communities, and world are lacking.
While it is understood that the poor will always be with us and that there are always those that just manage their finances poorly, we must remember that the purpose of the church is not to enrich its leaders. No, I am not against living a comfortable life. I am against living an excessive life at the expense of others and deceptively justifying it with God's word.
The purpose of the church is to use all of its funds, excluding minimal administrative, property, and maintainance costs, to feed the poor, clothe the naked, give hope to the hopeless, advocate for the voiceless, house the homeless, educate the illiterate, fight against injustice, and so on. And NO!, the church should not charge for providing these services. Remember that "non-profit" thing?
Many have made the error of comparing the church institution to the corporate institution. A majority of those that have made this mistake are in the pulpit every Sunday. While a church may have a business-like structure for organizational purposes, it is not a for profit business as many leaders have made it to be. In our mega church, less than fifteen cents of every dollar that was donated went to the ministry effort.
No, it is not acceptable to drive a Lexus at the expense of a senior on a fixed income that has to choose between heat and paying for medication on a monthly basis. No, it is not acceptable to reside in a multi-million dollar gated community when entire families are residing in homeless shelters for extended periods of time. No, it is not acceptable to have cosmetic surgery when the children within your communities do not even have health care. No, it is not acceptable to spend $800 on lizard skin shoes or St. John's Knit when the children in your church and community have worn shoes or clothes.
Finally, no, it is not acceptable to exploit, molest, abuse, and misuse God's children for your own gain. I have the fullest confidence in God's law which states that "you reap what you sow". These leaders have ignored the fact that they are "non-profit" entities based on the government's law. They also have consistently choose profit over people, which is in direct contradiction to God's law.
For these "CEO-Pastor-Reverend-Doctor's" the outcome is clear, since they have opted not to hold themselves accountable with integrity...the government will. More importantly, God will.