Is Your Pastor Getting Rich Off of You?


Saint Homobonus' (died 1197) attributes includ...

Saint Homobonus' (died 1197) attributes include a bag of money (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1Timothy 5 , “THOSE (PASTORS) WHO SIN ARE TO BE REBUKED PUBLICLY, SO THAT THE OTHERS MAY TAKE WARNING”

The great majority of Christian pastors earn very little money even though they work very hard. If Saint Homobonus were still alive, he  would surely be disgusted by the behavior of some of these deceptive leaders.

Like Judas reaching into the money bag, the sad reality is that there are pastors who steal from God‘s people. As Christians we hate to face this truth, but I believe it is our duty to protect our less aware brothers and sisters – keeping them from these thieves.

Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit.2 Corinthians 2:17

Religion is big business. You may already suspect some of these wolf’s in sheep’s clothing but do not be fooled by these popular pastors that have gone mainstream and appear to be honest and forthcoming simply because they tell you about their skeletons before you can discover them yourselves. They gain your trust by telling you about their sinful past and how they can relate to your own sins.

The Multilevel Marketing Pattern

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove them from the temple area. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” – John 2:13-16

We’ve all been approached at some time by a friend who is trying to make money using multilevel marketing. It is a simple concept. They are selling, candles, purses, makeup or nutritional products. They want to recruit you and others under them and show you how to recruit others under you, so that you can recruit others under you doing the same and taking a cut from their sales. And then as long as the process continues, you can be rich enough to donate to your favorite charities.

That is the dream. The proof the dream works is embodied in the wealth of the dream’s leaders. Do you see how rich our leaders are? They made all their money by following the dream, proving that you can too. Except, that it’s a lie.

These leaders did not become wealthy by following the dream, instead they became wealthy by building up a group of people who believe passionately in the dream, and then selling dream-promoting wares to this captive audience. They did not become rich by selling candles; they became rich by hyping dream-promoting books, tapes, DVDs, and conferences to their own private market of  believers.

This same pattern is practiced by some Christian leaders and their churches. The dream is the prosperity gospel. Their captive market is their congregation. The products are, well you guessed it: books, tapes, DVDs, and conferences, and t-shirts, and most ominously spiritual rewards and the prevention of spiritual punishments.

They lead by example to promote their twisted version of the gospel.  They tell you what God has done for them so that they can help others and then they tell you what God would want you to do so that you can help others too. They tell you what to buy and when to donate money and God will provide for you too! They tell us that they became successful by following God, but in reality they became rich by sucking money out of those caught up in the excitement of a distorted Gospel that seems to make sense.

Let’s discuss how these spiritual vampires are able to take money that ought to have stayed with God’s people or gone to legitimate good works.

Tip: A clue that you are attending one of these churches is if you hear things like, “This is your spiritual home, you can’t go to another church. You must be loyal. Listen to your Pastor’s heart. ” They are very jealous about protecting their market, and do not want to lose one of their paying customers to another church. Some even try to prevent their patrons leaving by making them sign contracts or “covenants”, like a mobile phone company locking you into a two-year term. But the Bible does not teach that Christians are bound to their local church organization, this idea is foreign to Scripture.

Books

The first product is the leader’s book (often ghostwritten and fraudulently claimed to be authored by the leader). Like bad business books they have one good idea and then are packed with antidotes and motivational sayings of how God lead him to where he is now and provided him with unimaginable wealth. The theological content is basically non-existent. These books would normally not even do well on Amazon however when promoted to a captive audience, they sell like hot cakes.

Only buy the book if it has good reviews and/or a friend recommends it along with your actual interest in it as with any book. Do NOT buy this book just because your pastor has endorsed it and the rest of the congregation is making you feel pressured to buy it. Be leery of conferences and seminars. They are designed to pressure you into buying. Wait til the hype wears off, then see if you still want to buy it.

DVDs

Next comes the DVD.  Usually this entails the Pastor preaching to his congregation over a certain topic. Let me ask you a question, is it ethical for a leader who has been paid by his church to prepare and deliver a sermon, to then take that performance and sell it back to his own church members for a healthy profit? I’m not talking here about paying for reproduction costs or the money going into church funds. I’m talking about DVDs being sold at the same cost as a movie DVD and the profit going into the leader’s own pocket.

Still these DVDs are hyped up and sold by the stacks. And even though, you are not required to buy them, you will certainly feel the pressure if you dont.

 Conferences

The marketing for conferences start months ahead. Promotional advertisements on websites and promotional commercials during service to get you excited about the event. And since everyone is excited about it, they cannot understand why anyone would not want to go. What do you mean you cannot afford the cost? Do you not love God? Don’t you want to be a part of the blessed, successful and wealthy?

And each speaker is awe-inspiring. They all have amazing stories of starting out with nothing and building a church that brings in thousands of people.

The conference fee is such a small amount compared to the spiritual reward. It will be life changing, with an insurmountable worth of blessings and wealth that God will bestow you with.

Of course, Jesus had conferences too, don’t forget, like the Sermon on the Mount. I do not recall him charging for that. In fact it was free wasn’t it?

There is nothing wrong with conferences. But when they are overly hyped and overly expensive with very little lasting value, it seems to me there is something wrong.  Why are they so expensive? Where does the money go?’

Couldnt I just stay home, or rent a hotel room and read my Bible with a few Christian friends. Do I really need to spend all that money to get closer to God? Will I  lose God’s blessings if I don’t go to the conference?

The Christian Speaking Circuit

If one has a large enough congregation and are willing to let others come and sell there, then your fellow pastors will allow you to come and sell in their congregations too. The bigger your congregation, the larger the congregations that will open up their doors to you.

This is known as a Christian speaking circuit. The newbies, practice hard and seek out circuit patrons to gain significant financial rewards. There are four ways to gain revenue: from sales of products,” love offers” taken for the speaker, from various perks, and from formal speaking payments.

Of course not ALL speakers are on the circuit, the difference is in the amount of money their visit extracts. There is nothing wrong with a speaker’s flights and accommodation being paid for, along with the speaker receiving a fair payment for his time. But what amount is fair? And what about the perks that some receive? Isn’t anything extra a waste of the Lord’s money?

Some speaker’s now require business or first class flights, expensive chauffeured cars, five-star hotel accommodation, gourmet dining, and the right to bring a small entourage along with them (at the church’s expense). Their fees can be enough to buy a family car, and  they still have no problem accepting a “love offering”.  The sales of their books and DVD’s are carefully planned, and the hosting pastors are willing to hype their products too.

Of course the hosting pastor will then expect to get the same treatment at the visiting speaker’s church. If the visiting speaker does not have a church, then the hosting pastor usually receives a cut from the speaker’s product sales.

So Sunday service speaking engagements are most important, to glamorize and hype up conferences. Only the true circuit speakers get to star at these engagements. They are almost like sharks at these conferences, who seek to boost profits by selling products that have over inflated prices.  This would explain why conferences cost so much, because it is needed to cover their fees and perks.

Is this what one should expect from the Body of Christ? Is this really acceptable to God?

If you are considering going to one of these conferences you should demand transparent accounting to the whole church of all costs of visiting speakers and for that matter transparency about any income your pastor is earning while speaking at other churches and conferences. Most honest pastors will not have a problem with this. But it is interesting to note that Churches that do not have members or require a membership are NOT legally required to open their financial records to their congregation.

Feeding Off the Flock

Another way pastors make money is to set up a business, and then get their congregation to patronize their business.

Businesses such as: bookshops, counseling, gyms, production firms, computer consulting, cinemas, business coaching services, supermarkets, building firms, music festivals, music studios, real-estate firms, and many more. The bookshop is the most common, often located inside the church itself.

“Members” in the church who support these businesses are rewarded with increased standing in the church over “members” who do not use their business.

If you are interested in frequenting these places, ask questions about who owns them! Also ask what percentage of customers come from the church. This will tell you how many outsiders actually see this place a trustworthy business.

Honor Your Pastor

The control Pastors have over their congregation is very cult like. And do not be confused with the cults that you have heard about on television.  A Cult does not have to go to that extreme to be considered a cult, but they a cult does have to go to extremes to be news worthy and draw big ratings for a network.

If a church is focused on money, there will be cult like patterns involved. One of these cultic patterns is the division of the church into exclusive rings: the all-powerful pastor at the center, the inner-ring consisting of the pastor’s lieutenants and the church’s privileged class (the rich, the famous and the very pretty), and the outer-ring of the ordinary folk who would love to be in the inner-ring, but are not.

The inner-ring is also involved in making money because they often try to “honor their pastor”, so that they will be looked upon more favorably.  The way in which they do this is: someone in the inner-ring will figure out what the pastor would like, say for his birthday. Then the inner-ringers will squeeze the outer-ringers for the money to buy this item.

Using this method pastors have been “given”: diamond rings for their wives, cash gifts, jet skis, luxury cruises, motorbikes, cars, holidays, boats, and  other expensive luxury items.

These pastors have plausible deniability by having their inner-ring lieutenants do the work. Of course they could refuse the gift when it is presented, and make it clear that they don’t want the Lord’s money spent on such things but how many do? It’s not that it is a bad thing to give a gift, like flowers  or something simple and non expensive but  how often is this done? And when you have a congregation of 20,000 people, if you can get just 5% to donate $5, then you have $1000 to shop with. Is that too much? Why shouldn’t a man of God get what he wants?

High Pressure Offerings

One of the church’s inner-ring will take the Sunday offering, which can turn into a mini-sermon. They are competing against each other’s past high scores.The more money they bring in, the better their status is within the ring.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7

If you ever feel pressured to give, that is when you should NOT give even a penny. Not out of rebellion or greed, but to see how you are looked upon. You should only give from your heart and when you are able, NOT because you are worried what God will think of you, if you don’t.

Cathedral Building Wars

Like the middle ages where cities and countries vied against each other to build the most impressive cathedral, the pastors of these money focused churches fight to own the most impressive church to top their rival pastors.

The most impressive churches require the most magnificent buildings, the most professional entertainment in their services, the best church programs, and the best conferences, the best websites, the best radio and TV programs, and the most members. All this costs a lot of money.

And just like the middle ages these self anointed kings seek to tax their subjects to fund all of these things. None of this goes along with the teachings of Jesus.

Surely we are accountable to God to how we spend our money. Do you really think the best way to spend money that is raised is on Restaurants, bookstores and other socializing buildings? Could you not do without such luxuries if it means the money instead goes to help orphans, the poor or some other well deserving needy cause?

Siphoning Cash into Property

Is it ethical for the pastor (or his company or trust) to own property that the church is paying for?

Another variation is the church trust being controlled by the pastor and his family, so they control both the church’s cash and property.

Some  pastors are very clever in how they hide the money trail. Ultimately if church money is paying for an asset the pastor owns, outside of his wages, then there is something wrong. Check who owns your church’s property. If it is a trust or company then find out who owns and controls that entity. Then look at what your pastor owns directly or indirectly, and who is paying for those assets. Stop giving to that church until any unethical dealings like these are stopped and the money repaid.

Excessive Wages

The Bible teaches that the spiritual worker deserves to be paid:

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” – 1 Timothy 5:17-18

It is my opinion that Paul the Apostle, probably meant fair wages, not excessive and that Paul would have agreed with what Peter the Apostle wrote:

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. – 1 Peter 5:1-3

No honest pastor would have a problem with his congregation knowing how much their church pays him, or at least what range his wage fell in, like say “between $50,000 and $60,000”. This is normal. Openness regarding the pastor’s wages has been a practice of the Christian church for hundreds of years, and continues today. Only those pastors who have an excessive wage would be reluctant to let the amount become public knowledge.

If a pastor dodges questions about his wages or if his wage is being compared to that of a CEO then be very suspicious. First because a CEO’s wage is usually massive and second, a pastor is not a CEO. A CEO runs a monetary for-profit organization, a pastor serves the people of God – not the same thing. Also, if they were like a CEO then that would make you like a shareholder and shareholders have full rights to accounts including their CEO’s earnings.

Perks

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. – 2 Corinthians 4:2

Many of these churches make their inner ring members complicit in this deception. Members are instructed to wear expensive clothes and groom themselves in the manner expected of the rich. They are encouraged to buy (or lease) the most impressive car they can afford. Members are required to appear happy and successful. The excuse given is that the appearance of success breeds success, but this is nonsense, more likely it breeds significant debt. The real reason the leaders want their church members to appear successful is to trick others into thinking that the prosperity dream that they preach really works.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:3-10

Nepotism

A church isn’t a family business; it is a family, but it’s not a business.

Are the pastor’s relatives high up in the church? If the pastor’s relatives seem to have higher positions in the church, then that is nepotism. A good church will choose only the very best people for the job.

 Fabricated Tithing Doctrine

Tithing, or at least their own version of tithing, is their one true love.

Here are some bullet point facts about tithing:

  • The New Testament Church did not tithe.
  • The New Testament does not teach tithing for Christians.
  • Their favorite Malachi verses cannot be used for Christians since Christians are not under the law of Moses.
  • Abraham’s one off tithe of his war booty did not set up a precedent for Christians to regularly tithe their income.
  • The version of tithing they teach cannot be found in Scripture (see below).
  • The “Storehouse” in Malachi cannot be equated to your local church organization.
  • There are plenty of rich (money wise) Christians who do not tithe. This would be impossible if their version of tithing was true.
  • The New Testament teaching is that you decide how much to give, and there are no rules about where it goes. You cannot be compelled to give.

Here is a false tithing doctrine stated in a nutshell:

“Christians must give up to 10% of their gross income only to their church organization. If they do, then God will bless them for any offerings they make to the church organization beyond this ten percent. But if they do not give ten percent gross, then they are stealing from God and God will curse them.”

There are variations of this teaching, and sometimes it is called a “principle”, but the above definition contains the core essence of this doctrine.

It is vital to grasp that tithing is not for Christians. Tithing was part of the old law (of Moses) which was fulfilled (completed) by Jesus. Christians are no longer under the law of Moses. If a church uses Moses  in any form to base its teachings off of, then there is something wrong.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. – Romans 7:6

know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. – Galatians 2:16

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” – Galatians 3:10

New wine should not be put into old wine skins, nor should new unshrunk cloth be used to patch an old garment; if you think you need to obey the law of tithing then you need to obey the whole law (or you will be cursed, Galatians 3:10).

What is more, this tithing doctrine they teach isn’t found in either the New or Old Testament. Cultwatch has a special website TithingDebate.com dedicated to setting Christians free from this fake doctrine. There are free books to download and articles to read. Make sure you read the article “Should you give?

If you are struggling to feed your family or buy them clothes,  remember, your duty is to your family first. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8

Churches that push the tithing doctrine will often try to enforce tithing via written agreements (called covenants), and also by monitoring what people give (so they can compel them to give more if they are not meeting the ten percent target).

First, this is illegitimate, because they contain false doctrine (like tithing) and set up the pastors as a false authority over you. God would not support a covenant that contains falsehoods, therefore God does not support the covenant you were pressured to sign, so you are free from this burden. It is as if you never signed it. Second,  the Bible implies that our giving is best done in secret so that only we and God know what we gave. Don’t go to a church where they monitor what you give. (note: some churches voluntarily let you record what you have given via a numbered envelope system for tax purposes. Done correctly, no one in the church will know what you gave. There is nothing wrong with this kind of recording.)

One should protest a false doctrine by refusing to fund the system that promotes that false doctrine.

The Carrot and the Stick

Pastors that are money hungry, are often power-hungry too. They want to be pastor and master. They commit the sin of the Pharisees and appoint themselves as middle men between God and you.

Pastors will claim to have a direct connection with God and then threaten with spiritual curses if you disobey. They dangle the carrot of blessings to get you to comply. And they imply that they have say in where you work, where you fellowship, who you mary and of course, how much you give.

This is a false spiritual authority not supported by Scripture.

In these pastor’s prosperity teaching, obeying the pastor and giving money are the two pillars necessary for a successful Christian life.

These men want to dominate you, they want to be seen as the big man, and some desire adoration. This is the opposite of true Christian leadership:

Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. – Luke 22:24-27

I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm. – 2 Corinthians 1:23-24

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. – Mark 10:42-44

Don’t be afraid of these men. Ignore their bluster. Grow a backbone and stand up to them. And if you give, then give to honor God and not out of fear of punishment or greed for financial gain. Memorize this verse: Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7

Summary

I am sure that most people who attend these money focused type of churches would be shocked if they could see the real attitude of their pastors.

I hope that this article will set you free from this kind of spiritual bondage. I am not against studying the Bible and practicing your own beliefs as long as it does not interfere with anyone elses well-being, of course. I just cannot watch good people being lead astray in the name of God in order to carry out the will of a wealth seeking pastor.

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10 thoughts on “Is Your Pastor Getting Rich Off of You?

  1. I recently became interested in CCFTL when I noticed increasingly erratic behavior from a relative of mine who joined the church… Financials are extremely difficult to find for CC, evidently there isn’t full disclosure from the officials.. The only thing I was able to discern is that Bob Coy owns almost 700k in 2 homes in nice areas in Coral Springs. I then watched some of the sermons online- in one of them, Pastor Bob tells the parishioners to choose to donate instead of buying ice cream or going out to eat, yet many of those people in the congregation live hand to mouth.(not arguing about giving or the amount to give, just the principle of hypocrisy) What I wouldn’t give to access those financial documents (and who are we kidding, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg). Preaching should be God’s work and not a way to amass a financial empire.

  2. Excellent points. I wasn’t trying to fully defend tithing. As you saw, I was promoting giving. Free will offerings if you will. Although a great counter example, no need to spin the example I used around. Yes, if someone knew their money was going to bad use I would hope they would be wise enough to discontinue their contributions. Giving to a fool is not condoned in the bible either. I could easily turn the same example back to you again and say if the people warning the person giving to the homeless person were wrong then they would be doing a disservice. Then you could say that they too were acting out of faith and so on and so on. So I will submit to you that tithing is a way of the old testament. However, as noted, my point was more that giving is still very much encouraged and necessary. I was also touching on the difference between giving to God and giving to the church. Those are two very different acts as well.

    I have to also commend you on providing that link to CCFTL’s page where they explain their estate planning services. That is awesome! Estate planning is a service that a lot of people don’t think about or do not act on for various reasons and that lack of action can cause more heartache and grief in the lives of the surviving loved ones. Everyone should plan ahead considering statistics report that 10 out of 10 people die. It is also something that usually costs money whether you do it yourself or have a lawyer do it for you because of the legal nature of it. And Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale offers that service for FREE!? Again, awesome! What makes it even better that they offer it for FREE is that right after they get done explaining how they will help you leave behind a legacy of love by ensuring that you provide for your family they go on to say under the first bullet point titled, Planned Giving:

    “If you would like to allocate part of your estate to advancing the work of God’s Kingdom by arranging a gift from your estate to Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, or any other charitable organization of your preference, the professionals at Lifestyle Giving and local contact personnel in our Stewardship Department will coordinate that as well.”

    Key words being “If” and “part.” Also interesting to note that their assisted planning offer extends to any other charitable organization of your choice. And since its in writing they are bound by this as an explicit agreement.

    So thank you again very much for putting up that link. Knowing they offer this kind of service I may very well take them up on it. Great find!

    Lastly, Tracy, I can’t help but feel as if a few of your blogs are still being directed to me and my attendance at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. If this is so, I wish you didn’t feel this way. You do not need to concern yourself with this anymore. For one thing, the fact of the matter is you do not know whether I contribute to CCFTL or not. I have never confirmed or denied this to you, nor will I. So if you are putting things like this up to warn or protect me personally, it is appreciated but not necessary. It is actually just hurting me to continue to wake up and see new posts and blogs that are seemingly going against a place and people that I have great affection for. If I’m wrong, and you’re putting things like this up to warn all people of those shady type of organizations that are undoubtedly out there, then please forgive me and carry on. Maybe when you’re done investigating CCFTL you can start taking a look at the inner workings and financial accounting of PBS. I’ve never trusted them. You know, the way they blatantly call people theives because they watch their television programming for free making you feel all pressured to give. And I’m just kidding around there. I appreciate what you may be doing but I just wish it didn’t feel like it was so directed at my church and me. You are only giving one side of a very general spectrum in your blogs. You promote caution but you personally offer no alternatives. Who is it ok to give to? Who or how do you personally set an example and give back to God or the community? How are you helping people other than warning them of the dangers of helping people? There’s an old saying in business that goes something like this, don’t bring me a problem unless you have a solution.

    I know you didn’t name CCFTL in this post but you have in others and you and I both know very well where each other stands. So why the strong conviction to try to expose something thats just not there?. I love you, Tracy, and I want to reassure you that you won’t lose me to religion but if you’re not careful you will lose me to false allegations. I feel very strongly that your investigations are not helping EITHER of us and I wish you would learn to finish your investigations before posting all of your conclusions. Rather they are causing pain to more than just ourselves. You’ve spent so much time looking for scandal. Why don’t you now be objective and look for their contributions to society and the many ways that they truly glorify God? After you’ve weighed it all out, make a decision as to whether or not they are a respectable, trustworthy example of a what a good church should be.

    I’m really just talking to you here so if its all too personal for your blog feel free to delete this after you read it. But if you do then please delete our other two replies for the same reason as well in the spirit of fairness to the debate and free speech. I’m really kicking myself for having replied again in the first place. I wasn’t going to but I let my pride get the better of me once again. I’m sorry. I am officially done debating with you over such topics. I would rather focus on more fundamental issues with you such as salvation. Until then, I will quietly pray that you find the answers you’re really looking for and that ultimately good comes from all of this pain we’ve caused each other. I love you and forgive you. I pray you forgive me as well.

    • Tracys Post says:

      The page I put up was not about the Estate planning it was more about “Giving” or “Gifts” is promoted alot:
      I. Planned Giving
      II. Wills and Trust
      III. Charitable Lead Trust
      IV. Charitable Gift Annuity
      V. Gift of Real Estate
      VI. Gifts of Stock or Mutual Funds
      VII. Charitable Remainder Trust
      VIII. Gift of Life Insurance and Life Insurance Trusts
      And usually only the people who still go to a Calvary Chapel will use the Estate planning. It seems that their “free” service has an underlying amount of pressure to donate a part of your “estate” to them which would mean, their work is not really free. But because they dont technically charge you, one might feel pressured into donating.Even when they use the words “if” or “part”. Obviously, that would be a cult if they demanded it. Simply suggesting that you can do these things “if” you would like to, is very similar to the soft sell method we are taught by Brinker & Darden Corporations who own Chili’s and the Olive Garden. Employees are told to ASK would you like an Italian Margarita or some other specific drink or appetizer, never just ask what they want. Suggest, suggest, suggest……give them a specific option and even use enticing descriptive words.
      In all honesty Cody, I did not intend for you to read my blog just yet, I accidentally liked the post and it went to my facebook, I was actually trying to test to see if I had correctly put a share button on because I had one before but I lost it somehow. And since this stuff is on my mind and before all of this, I watched one of those dateline or 48 hours or 20/20 special about Mega Churches which is what that church is. But I have been learning about this church and about its businesses and about the bookstore which sells books that are also published through their own publishing company in CA. Out of respect for you, I AM trying to learn what I can about their teachings so that it does not seem one sided. The joke you make about PBS makes me feel like you think I am being silly.
      If anything that I write, helps you in any kind of way then that is great but I didnt send this to you personally even though I will continue to worry about you. And people that write blogs, usually write about things they have a personal interest in. I too have wondered if some of your posts on facebook were indirectly intended for me.
      I dont think that this blog is giving just one side. The point of the article is to show what things to look for in a general sort of way since there ARE more then one brand of church that uses God to get rich. As far as alternatives and solutions, maybe I should have been more clear but I do say that one should check into who owns the property and if its a trust that you should find out who owns the trust. You can find these things out in public records through the county or through your local library using Reference USA. If a ownership is not listed, it usually means they want to keep the information private. The warnings of what to look for should tell you enough about if this is place you want to support. Obviously, if you find yourself in a place that seems to have any unethical practices, such as nepotism, extremely high salaries, secretive about finances or vagueness about where money goes, etc. etc., then you should either find another church that does not have any of these issues and there are many that do not have any problems with showing people their non-profit statements.
      I didn’t name CCFTL specifically, I Have mentioned the Calvary Chapel and I did respond to a someone elses topic on their website that was specifically dedicated to finding out if other’s had had similar experiences at Calvary Chapels which by the way are not all connected in affliation themselves. But the Pastors ARE all affiliated with the 1st chapel in CA. They have to be approved by Chuck Smith and a board I think.
      I hope that I dont lose you to religion but a false allegation is only that if I believe it to be so. And I dont. I havent posted everything that I have because again this was not for you personally. Again, I did start looking into this objectively whether you believe me or not, it was my investigation into this that prompted more proof of red flags. I have not been seeking out scandal, if there is scandal, I did not make it up. But it has been quite odd how, alot of the stuff I have come accross, I found without looking for it. If CCFTL is so great, then they dont need defending. I would be more concerned with how you glorify God then defending them. All the good that a church does and their contributions to society, mean absolutely nothing, if they are profiting as well from money that is supposed to be used to honor God. If I ever decided to go to a church to be close to God, I would want to make sure it was one I could trust regardless of what my thoughts are on the religious aspect.
      As far as debating goes, never say never, lol. I love you too Cody and I hope someday you can see how much because I have ALWAYS been protective of you. That is what motivates me and my innitial intention was to do alot of research without telling you anything until I knew more and I know alot more now, then I did then. But NEVER to hurt you. I have been struggling to make sure I am following my heart as well as my gut(even though I have not always trusted it when I should have) and what ever it is that has been guiding me. As I said, in the video, I will not be discussing religion with you anymore. It would be pointless for us both. I dont believe what you do and you dont believe anything other then that. I’m not worried in my salvation because i dont believe I need to be. If I believed everything in the Bible was real then I would need to be but I dont. But because you believe what you are being taught, then unfortunately you will have to continue to have that burden of worry on your shoulders. And it is very sad, that because your devotion to God (or this version of Him), will undoubtedly cause you that kind of pain in knowing you will not be able to save all of your loved ones along with you. Again I love you and I will ALWAYS be here for you, no judgement from me. I KNOW your intentions are good.

      • Tracys Post says:

        PS. I agree this is not helping us. Although you may have felt that I am just “looking” for the ” bad” against CCFTL, have you not been looking to show me all the “good”? Perhaps you have been one sided in defending them whether it be out of some contest to prove me wrong or to prove that you have not been decieved or simply because none of the things I researched and stated in the article apply to CCFTL and you do not want me to continue to worry. What ever the reason is, I feel that any kind of negativity against your church will fall on deaf ears and you will continue to defend them and see it as an attack instead of sincere sharing of documented information. You are free to follow your own path and I will do the same.

  3. This was a great article because there certainly are churches out there that misuse funds that are given in good faith. Sooo glad Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale (CCFTL) doesn’t over emphasize tithing. I would not feel comfortable in a church that did. Also glad that CCFTL is not a “name it & claim it” or “prosperity” ministry. I am familiar with some that do fit that bill and CCFTL is not one of them. However, there is one recurring subject in this article I feel the author is not fully informed on.

    Since the author was citing the bible, I feel it is appropriate to cite the bible as well to demonstrate a point that he/she appears to have wrong on the viewpoint of tithing. The article is correct in saying that no percentage should be required. Tithing is not meant to be a method of taxation. In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent, not the 10 percent which is generally considered the tithe amount today in many churches. This article is also correct in saying the New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system.

    However, where I feel the article is incorrect is in its point that tithing or giving back to God is simply a law from the Old Testament that was completely done away with in the New Testament. Far more than once in the New Testament giving is mentioned. Again, no set percentage is named but it is alluded to that it should keep up with one’s income. “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Also important to note in that verse is the use of the word saints. The idea of the word “saints” is a group of people set apart for the Lord and His kingdom. The purpose of faithful giving, whether to a church, organization or an individual in need is to glorify God. So while one does not have to give solely to their church, many people do give to their church for two main reasons. One, they worship and partake of the services provided there. Two, they trust that the funds will be used to help the spreading of the gospel as well as those less fortunate through various other ministries the church may be involved with. On that note, while clearly encouraging giving, the New Testament also conveys the message that if someone is struggling they are not expected or commanded to give ten percent or any amount for that matter. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” [2 Corinthians 9:7 (which was referenced also in the article but disregarded as support for giving)].

    By those two verses alone, Galatians 3:10 which was referenced in this article twice does not apply and neither does the misinterpretation that tithing, or giving, was simply a law from the Old Testament. As to how and whether or not the funds given or offered to the church are used in accordance with God’s will, well, there definitely are some organizations out there that take advantage of the faithful offerings of believers. Fortunately for the deceived giver, God still recognizes their act of obedience made in good faith and will still honor His promises to them even if a person was unknowingly giving to an organization or individual that was misusing the funds. For example, if a person gives money to someone on the street that appears to be homeless and the assumed homeless person uses the money instead for alcohol, drugs or something else less helpful to the individual, the giver still acted in good faith in the eyes of God and still glorified Him in doing so. The giver was deceived and did not do anthing wrong. The recipient of the money is the one who has to face judgement for their deception. Ultimately, tithing or giving is between the individual and God. If a person has any doubt or concern in regards to whether or not they should give or how much to give they should pray about the matter and seek God’s wisdom on the subject. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

    • Tracys Post says:

      I’m glad that your church does not OVER emphasize tithing and instead promote Giving. http://www.calvaryftl.org/ministries/stewardship-ministry/estate-planning/#
      Tithing WAS at one time meant to be a method of taxation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tithe
      And you are right, Old Testament DID require multiple tithes, which is what was done away with.
      I’m sorry, you have misunderstood. The article does NOT say that “Giving” was done away with in the New Testament. It talks about how these churches use the Old Testaments Law about tithing.There is a difference between Giving and Tithing.
      Human reason would indicate if every Christian tithed, the church would have all the money needed to carry out the great commission. Is it possible that 10 %, instead of being an answer to the church’s money needs, could become a limit for many? How many people could give 20, 30, 40 % of their income but religion has made it hard for them to hear that. “Hearing of faith” (Gal.3:2) 2 Corinthians 13:5 “test yourself to see if you’re in faith.”
      If tithing was part of the new covenant, God hid it from Paul and the other New Testament writers. No matter how hard you try, you have to use the Old Testament to teach it. You might say tithing was before the law, part of the law and in force now also but where is the New Testament Scripture for this? Giving is not quite the same as tithing. But in alot of these money focused churches, Giving, is an underlying topic.
      Circumcision was before the law (Genesis 17:24), part of the law, but is it in effect now? Some of the New Testament apostles tried to maintain it (Acts 15:5-11; Galatians 2:11) but Paul would have none of it. Hebrews talks about Abraham giving a tithe to Melchizedek but the same passage says there was a change in the law Hebrews 7:12. Hebrews 8:13 and 9:1 talks about the “first covenant with regulations (tithing is a regulation of the law) made obsolete (therefore, tithing was made obsolete).” Hebrews 10:9 “takes away first (tithing was part of the first) to establish second (tithing is not part of the second)” Hebrews 10:16 “writes law on heart and mind (God never wrote tithing on my heart or mind)”

      “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” [2 Corinthians 9:7
      This verse that you mention that was in the article, again was NOT against Giving. It was to show that Giving is OKAY. But Tithing is the debate at hand and there is more to tithing then just giving.
      It is true that for the deceived giver, God still recognizes their act of obedience made in good faith and will still honor His promises to them even if a person was unknowingly giving to an organization or individual that was misusing the funds.
      However, if a person gives money to someone on the street that appears to be homeless but becomes suspicious of that person’s intentions because others warned the giver that this person would not use the money for good but still gives the homeless person money anyhow, and the assumed homeless person uses the money instead for alcohol, drugs or something else,….. did the giver still act in good faith in the eyes of God and still glorified Him in doing so?
      The giver didnt KNOW but they had heard stories about that person from many people but they decided to ignore the warnings of others because they believed it to be gossip. So then this person is decieved, maybe just because the person WANTED to believe that this homeless person was better then what others claimed that he was.
      Some might call the giver foolish, perhaps, but I would say the giver had a good heart. The recipient of the money IS the one who has to face judgement for their deception. And tithing or giving IS between just the individual and God.

      • The fact that seems to be forgotten in all this discussion is that many of those written about in the bible were, or became wealthy, because they were blessed by God. Abraham was a very wealthy man. David became King of Israel, Solomon, one of the richest men to ever live. The discussions about pastors having luxuries is not about the giver…it is about God blessing the teacher of His word. If a pastor is truly right and just, and teaches the Word as God has commanded, then God will bless him, either with financial wealth, spiritual wealth, good health and long life, what ever God sees fit to bless that pastor with. It is not up to us to judge whether or not that pastor, or anyone who spreads the Word, should or shouldn’t receive an income from their evangelizing. If we know for a fact that the person preaching is a fake, or false teacher, then God will deal with them, as He has in the past. Their sins will be revealed. But if they remain true to the Gospel and to Jesus Christ, then we should not concern ourselves with that which the Almighty has ordained. As for giving, a person should give out of the abundance of his or her heart, for “God loves a cheerful giver”, and if that person wishes his or her donations to go to specific charity, they themselves can designate that on their own. If they are giving to support the Church, that includes the Pastor, his family, employees, everything associated with the running of a Church. I, myself, am a reluctant giver, so I feel under conviction, but when I do give, the joy it brings is inexplicable. People these days have a pretty good idea of where their money is going, and I do agree that tithing is an Old Testament ruled, however, if one is willing to give 10% of their income, then who are we to stop them. Everything we have is not ours, but Gods’, only on loan to us from Him. If He wants to lavish good things on us, then who are we to argue. Does the clay say to the potter, “Why have you made me this way?”.
        It is old school teaching that says pastor’s and preacher’s have to live in poverty. The whole idea isn’t whether or not a teacher of the Word is wealthy or poor, it is what is in his heart that God cares about, and HE KNOWS the hearts of men. So, “judge ye not, lest ye be judged!” One does not have to give up everything he has, unless God tells him to, but that person should WANT to give up everything and be totally willing to do so, with a willing and obedient heart, and let God judge what blessings, if any, He will bestow upon him. If every one’s focus here is on money and material items, then you have missed the point completely. GOD IS THE MAIN POINT!!! SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND ALL THESE OTHER THINGS WILL BE GIVEN UNTO YOU!

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