Greedy Church Staff, Power, and Poverty

A friend of mine recently related some exceptionally disturbing details about her church. It has over a million dollar budget but spends 99.9% of it’s money on itself (salaries and building). None of the money is going to missions. That’s right, zero dollars in the budget for missions! Close to $25,000 is allotted to the phone plan. And under $15,000 is going to help those in the local community. $3,000 goes to the youth group. Are other outreach ministries in the church eating up the budget? Nope. They get nothing either.

My friend is wrestling with whether or not she should give to the church or just donate to ministries outside of her church. It’s my opinion that she should not give to her church. Her money, and most of the parishioners’ money, is going to salaries and a building. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the worker should be paid her or his wage. But in this case, from what I understand, the workers are getting rich off of the church. They’ve forgotten the poor. In my opinion, giving to her church is like giving money to a corrupt organization or government. The whole situation is nauseating.

She confronted the pastor and staff about the complete lack of missions funding. They said they probably could find money for missions somewhere. Hmmm.

To me it looks like the staff doesn’t want to give up their salaries and expensive lifestyle. My friend is convinced of the same.

In his book, Power and Poverty: Divine and Human Rule in a World of Need, Dewi Hughes makes a statement that makes me tremble. I provide the context and then highlight the statement:

“the creation of humankind in the image of God is reaffirmed and seen as the basis for a very high view of the value of human life, so that murder opens an account that can be paid only by the blood of the murderer. Cain was indeed Abel’s keeper (Genesis 4:9b). Many Christians believe that this text means that capital punishment is the just response to homicide. To discuss this is beyond the scope of this book, but if poverty is primarily the result of oppression, then whose who cause the death of the poor through oppression are guilty of murder. The way we live in luxury in the minority world while millions die in poverty could well make us liable for the blood of the poor before God. Ignorance and a lack of intent can reduce culpability, but there could still be blood on our hands.

May God have mercy on us and may we, may I, in the name of Jesus, do what is right (not just say what is right) on behalf of the poor and powerless.

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