Sunday, December 6, 2009

How to Steal From the Poor and Give Everyone a Clear Conscience

I read this from a church budget update that I saw online.

Weekly Budget
| $25,000.00 When a financial goal for a particular project has been reached, ****** Church reserves the right to allocate additional funds to the most urgent need at that time.

What does this mean? Let's say the project was "Care for the Poor in Honduras". And the budget amount is $20,000. If 50 church members felt God lead them to give $1,000 to this cause, $50,000 in total, the leadership could use $30,000 of their giving to go to another budget item like advertising. The people that gave to the poor in Honduras would never know that this happened. But at least they've done their part and followed the leading of the Lord.

When people designate their giving to a particular budget item, it usually isn't in the category of paper clips or cleaning supplies. Understandably, a project could be fixing the roof and therefore surplus dollars should be allocated elsewhere.

Some people take a different approach to their giving and don't designate any of their offering. The assumption they have is that a percentage of their giving would go to worthwhile projects. The Honduras project is 1.5% of the church budget. Therefore for every $100 that they give they would be happy to know that $1.50 would go to the poor. But if $20,000 of the Honduras budget came in through designated offerings, maybe even through just 1 person giving the full $20,000, that would mean that no one else even gave 1.5% of their offerings to that particular project.

How would you know if this has happened? You could ask but you will likely be given the impression that you are not trusting the leadership simply because of your question. And I've got a hunch that if that scenario did happen that way, that they wouldn't tell you how much had been designated and how much was re-allocated.

Would the leadership do this? What if the church does not reach its budget target each week? You do the math.

This is actually a common practice in many churches and pastors teach each other this. It is the modern day application of what Jesus denounced the Pharisees for.

Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
" 'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.'
Matthew 15:3-9

No comments: