rich pastors in an age of middle class parishioners…

March 11, 2007

I have been caused to think, at length, about the report in the Toronto Star last Sunday. It was a troubling report of the spending habits of the Prayer Palace – a large church located at highway 400 and Finch here in Toronto. It is a pretty controversial thing, as a Christian, to be critical of the ministry of other Christians – though I do think that God calls us, as Christians, to bring each other to account.

For those who haven’t seen the article, you can read last Sunday’s article by visiting Richard Dawkins website. For those who don’t like athiests, I’m sorry that you have to visit his website, but obviously he feels that this report somehow discredits Christianity – so he has taken enough interest in it to link it to his website.

Let me say that as a child growing up I always sensed that my parents didn’t make that much money. They are both pastors. But I never did without. My life was always comfortable enough for me to feel provided for and safe. There were drunks around sometimes and other interesting characters who would knock on the church office doors – – but this only exposed me to real life. I can look at my parents and say, with all honesty, they are people of integrity and they could never be criticized for the way they chose to spend the money entrusted to the church. They church’s money funded programs with a mix of purposes – church programming and social programs.

When I read articles like the one above and see pastors getting rich off of the tithes people are giving to God I am completely sickened. I think that there is so much pressure to be successful in today’s society and I think that people who want to accumulate personal wealth should steer clear of the church. I want to believe that when people give money to the church, they can be assured that the money they are investing into the Kingdom of God is not padding the pockets of administrators.

And then what does this kind of mismanagement do to the face of the church. Once again we find ourselves in a dilemma where people look at the church as being greedy and working not for the extension of the Kingdom of God but for the extension of their own personal kingdoms. What a place we find ourselves in. Then we are surrounded by many Christians who say to me – – be careful how you criticize the work of the Lord.

Well hear my statement and hear it loud. I think that the Church of Jesus Christ (not the mormons…) ought to stand up, with a clear and united voice and bring these pastors into account. This is an injustice and these people should not be protected by cozy, non-confrontational, pacifist Christians who are afraid to speak out against such injustices.

Pastor’s who want to get rich quick should think twice before they use the Lord’s money to bring them way past the status quo while their parishioners live meagerly (many in debt). Parishioners who want to get rich quick – here is my message for you: God does indeed love a cheerful giver but be sure – you are never to give to God with the same sort of attitude as you might play the stock market. Your giving is out of faithfulness to churches work. If you are giving to get, I’m afraid you will find yourself disappointed. If you are knowingly supporting ministry which is (potentially) bogus – maybe God will even call you into account for that. Be smart.

There were some very good letters to the editor which I have a link to also.

I have to say that I know that there are many faithful Christians who attend The Prayer Palace. It is not my intent to make them feel offended or defensive. I do think that they ought to take a close look at what is happening around them. I pray that God could turn this situation around and that the Pastors could humble themselves and receive correction from the the secular world and the church if this is what is needed.

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3 Responses to “rich pastors in an age of middle class parishioners…”

  1. jasonlocke said

    Someone pointed out to me that these pastors are making a lot of money in real estate and let’s acknowledge that while it is possible that not all of their money is from the church – it is still the case, without question, that money has been misappropriated and that this family is benefiting…really benefiting.

  2. Katy said

    I am definitely troubled by the Star’s report of the spending habits of some of the leaders of the Prayer Palace. And I agree- they should be held to account.

    It makes me wonder though, how will each one of us who enjoy the affluence of Canada be called to account? I can’t help but see this whole thing with the “riches of the Melnichuks” as a living metaphor for the way that most Canadian Christians live in relation to the developing (2/3) world. I’m glad that people are getting angry about the injustice that has occured at the Prayer Palace, but what about the daily misuse of money perpetrated by every “middle class parishoner” as it pertains to billons of people living in extreme poverty and dying every day because they don’t have enough to EAT.

    So how different am I really from Paul Melnichuk if I keep spending the money that God has entrusted to me the way that I do? I wish I could say that I live a selfish lifestyle because of ignorance, but I can’t. I know that people around the world are in need, I’m sure I’ll even talk about it with friends as I sip a $4 Cafe Mocha from Starbucks (which, by the way, is twice the amount of money that some people LIVE ON each day).

    So, I wonder what would happen if all of the people who are angry at pastors from the Prayer Palace got just as angry about the financial injustices they themselves commit on a daily basis?

    “Is not this the kind of fast I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice . . . to share your food with the hungry” (Is. 58:6,7)

  3. You should see Pastor Ira Carty’s laptop…

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