If it bothers you that millions of children will die from starvation this year, while Christian mystical teachings in America have enough money in their bank accounts to feed all of these children three meals a day throughout the year, you need to read this article. I will be discussing a few subjects related to finances in the American Christian Church, all of which should be a major concern for all sincere Christians in this nation.
I will begin with the subject of mega churches and their income and assets. They have become commonplace in America; huge and extravagant church buildings, costing from $10 million to $100 million each, have arisen throughout our nation. Today’s Christian Church in America has become a gigantic commercial enterprise. Recent statistics from “The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches” and “The National Center for Charitable Statistics“, reveal that Christian churches and ministries in America have an annual income of about $80 billion.
The amount of the Church’s income is not the concern, but rather how the funds are being spent. As mentioned, huge and extravagant church facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and luxurious furnishings are arising everywhere. More and more ministries are operating in expensive new buildings. Many of these ministries boast of flying to their meetings in their own private jets. And, all of this is happening at a time when there is so much need in our nation, and even more so in other parts of the world.
The number of homeless and hungry Americans is rapidly increasing. Furthermore, more than nine million people die from starvation annually throughout the world. At such a time as this, when there is so much need all around us, wouldn’t it be a powerful witness for Christ if American Christian churches and ministries were willing and able to minister to these needs in a substantial way, by spending a “significant portion” of their massive income and assets to help those in need? However, their vast expenditures on luxurious mega churches, large salaries, worldly investments and expensive toys are hogging most of their income and assets, while, by comparison, only a minimal percentage is spent on real ministry. This is shameful, and it is not “what Jesus would do”!
Of course, those in the Church who are spending their donated funds on all of these “material things” are quick to justify their actions. They remind us that the Jewish temple in the Old Testament also was an extremely expensive and luxurious building. Unfortunately, their comparison and reasoning are both quite faulty. If they really want to compare their modern churches to the temple, the first thing they should do is to close down all of their coffee shops, bookstores, arcade rooms and restaurants that they have included in their expensive church facilities. Why? Because the Bible states that Jesus cast the “sellers” and “money changers” out of the temple, and He said that we are not to make His Father’s house, a “house of merchandise” (John 2:16; Matthew 21:12). In other words, do not turn the temple into a shopping mall. Therefore, if today’s church leaders want to compare their buildings with the temple, then their profitable bookstores, restaurants and amusement rooms need to be eliminated. However, it is highly unlikely that you will be seeing this occur anytime soon. You see, the contemporary Church does not want to conduct itself like the Old Testament temple when it comes to reverence and sanctity, but only when it comes to expensive and luxurious adornment.
It is also noteworthy, that the Jewish temple housed the Shekinah Glory, the Ark of the Covenant, the tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments written by God, the “mercy seat” and other divinely appointed furniture and utensils. It was so holy that only the priests and Levites could enter it. In fact, only the high priest could enter the revered Most Holy Place of the temple, and just once each year.
On the other hand, in Jesus’ day, there were numerous synagogues throughout the land, in which the common people worshipped on a regular basis; they were very ordinary structures. Those synagogues would be the equivalent of our churches today, and not the temple.
As previously stated, the leaders of today’s wealthy, worldly and selfish churches want to compare their structures to the temple, in order to justify their luxurious buildings. Thus we are ending up with tens of thousands of temples throughout America, while the commonplace synagogues (churches) of worship are quickly vanishing from the American landscape.
Christian leaders have conveniently forgotten that there was only “one” temple in all of Israel, while there were numerous modest synagogues throughout the land. God didn’t need thousands of temples in the land of Israel, and it is likely that He doesn’t need them in America either.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with having a nice building. However, with hundreds of thousands of homeless people in our cities, due to a shortage of homeless shelters, and with millions of people starving to death each year throughout the world, it is appropriate to ask if today’s Christian Church in America has forgotten its real mission and purpose.
One of the most common slogans in Christianity is, “What would Jesus do”? It would be a good idea for today’s Church to ask itself this question. The Jesus we read about in the Bible spent His life ministering to people’s needs, not ministering to Himself. I think it is reasonable to assume that He would ask His Church to follow His personal example, by also ministering to those in need, instead of ministering to itself. As the Scriptures state, we are to “walk” as He (Jesus) “walked” (1st John 2:6); that is, we are to live our lives patterned after the example of Jesus’ life revealed in the Bible. And, regarding ministering to others, in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus taught that true Christianity is manifested in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and ministry in general to those in need. This is what Christian churches and ministries should be doing, not ministering to themselves.
It is both astonishing and disturbing to realize what America’s Christian churches and ministries could accomplish if they just dedicated a fraction of their annual income to “real ministry”. According to “poverty.com”, about 25,000 people die from starvation each day throughout the world; that’s more than nine million people starving to death each year, and the vast majority of these deaths are children! And, according to the ministry, “Feed My Starving Children”, it only costs 22 cents to provide one nourishing meal. Based on those statistics, if American Christian churches and ministries committed just ten percent of their massive annual income to “real ministry”, there would be enough money to feed every starving person in the world three meals a day throughout the year, and to build 1500 homeless shelters across America annually; within two or three years every homeless person in our nation could be off the streets, and starvation could be immediately eliminated worldwide!