Well if you havn’t seen the latest BRW magazine front cover and feature article – you should.
I was at Lakes CLC last week and it was being past around, so I did myself a favour and bought a copy today.
“God’s Millionairs – The rise of pentecostal churches and the entrepreneurs behind them”
A disturbing and penetrating look into the finances of Hillsong, Paradise, Riverview, Christian City Church and Christian Life Centre.
[these Senior Pastors] have hijaked the godly movement (says one Christian critic, and former general-secretary of AOG), which was simply a fellowship of churches. They have turned it into a hierarchical denomonation for selfish purposes and ends. It has become a fellowship of ministers, not churches,” he says.
Many of the pastors have become millionaires on the talk circuit and from the sale of books and DVD’s. The article states.
Mostly it’s stuff we all know in church circles. The figures are all there, a few more details about all Brians houses, stats about the income and asset bases of some of the churches etc.
Some good points about retention rates complete the article –
Much has been made about the rise in numbers of people attending the pentecostal churches, but less is known of the high drop off rate. According to the NCLS, 28% of pentecostal members arrive, disaffected from other churches. But 15% also switch out, returning to former allegiances or choosing new ones. And 17% drift out of the church altogether after their pentecostal experiences. So althought there has been undoubtable growth in the pentecostal church, it is not as great as many claim, and many are lost to Christianity altogether.
I remember attending one of the massive rallys at a Hillsong conference, maybe 20 000 people in attendance. Brian Huston came on stage under the lights and the gliding boom camera swinging across front of stage, Brians image projected across the big screens. All of a sudden a loud voice from right up the top in the back sceamed out, “What about the poor, what are you doing about the poor”
Brian, as smooth as silk, with a he voice as rough as 80 grit sand paper responded with a brilliant answer about just how many churches were being enouraged to return into their communities and make a difference, he turned the question masterfully to the 20 000 people and asked them – “Do you think the poor will be affected as a result of your ministry now that you’ve attended Hillsong Conference?” Obviously the crowd went wild with thunderous agreement with “Pastor Brian.”
You know what? Brian was right. And he still is. And I for one happen to think Hillsong Church, Oxford Falls, Riverview and so on do an amazing job at what they do. True, wow!
I have no doubt that there will be some poor people better off as a result of inspired and encouraged ministers and lay people who attend Hillsong conference.
I just wonder, how much more could be done if all the money spent on, in and at Hillsong Conferences each year (just the conferences, mens, womens, July etc, I’m not talking about weekly running of the church) was redirected into issues of poverty and justice.
In fact if the people who call themselves Christians in the USA just tithed their income there would be enough money to deal completely with the issue of poverty across the entire globe with 70 billion Dollars remaining to ‘build churches and save the lost’! Now there is a stat! (I will get the source if you want, maybe otherendup could tell us the source, it’s in the book you are reading)
Here’s a thought a friend had the other day –
That our ‘mega-style’ churches in the west ‘reverse’ their missions giving and general giving.
That the money normally spent at home on staffing, electricity and buildings, be spent directly on issues pertaining to mission away from anything that will directly benifit the home turf.
Now admittedly many churches have outreach budgets that fund highschool staff and local missions projects – beaut. But they are of particular self interest as these people hopefully end up in our churches.
But there’s a thought hey? And for some of these pastors in the article, maybe I will throw in a challenge that includes any personal revenue coming in from book sales, guest speaking etc. (Don’t get me wrong, I am not all anti taking money for preaching a sermon at some elses church, I do this! Just havin a think here, give me some slack!) Include that in general income and run everything off what is given away normally.
Some churches maybe happy to do so as they give so much more to missions than to run their own turf, others may struggle. – Have a think.
What is ‘missions’ anyway?
Maybe Luke 4 is missions? Good news for the poor, Sight for the Blind, Freedom, forgiving debt (year of the Lords favour/jubilee) etc?
Go into all the world and make disciples and teach them to obey me?
Serious what is our ‘mission’ and what do we do about it? I have been thinking a lot about what exactly is “The Gospel” and if you tell me it’s just about Jesus dieing and raising from the dead for our sins etc then how did Jesus preach this Good News of the Gospel prior to it all happening??
What a load of waffle tonight has been, thanks for putting up with my …stuff.