Monday, October 12, 2015

Money And The Church: For Good Or For Ill.

Two things I wanted to bring to your attention, one a sign of the danger money has in  the church and one an example of how money can be used in a positive fashion.

First the ill. The storm surrounding the massive Gospel for Asia (GFA) ministry, headed by K.P. Yohannan, being booted from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) is getting worse by the day. The latest story from Christianity Today, Why Gospel for Asia Got Kicked Out of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, tells of money being shuffled around, deceiving donors, staffers and others being asked to smuggle cash into India to avoid government scrutiny and a cult of personality that had newly ordained clergy being "asked to kiss Yohannan’s rings as an act of obedience.". The whole thing is a sad reminder that massive amounts of money and a huge bureaucratic system yoked with religion is often a toxic mix. I don't know enough about the inner workings of GFA but from what I have read it is a financial mess and calls into question the standings of GFA as a trusted ministry to contribute to. There may not be any actual malfeasance going on but there are enough red flags to make people think pretty hard about sending GFA a check. When it comes to money and ministries I hold pretty firmly to the mantra that bigger is not better and is actually often worse. I would much rather give directly to a small ministry that I know personally than some massive, international group with millions spent on overhead and fund raising. In other words, I want my donations to go where they are needed rather than going to help someone raise even more money.

On the flip-side, for some reason which may be a sign of possession or temporary insanity, Dwight Gingrich is moving his family to Atlanta. I have been in Atlanta on business and while the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead is a delightful hotel, I couldn't deal with that many people and that much traffic for very long. Anyway, Dwight tossed out the idea of getting people to contribute micro-loans to help get his home purchased in the Atlanta area on Facebook and the idea caught fire. You can read about it in his post Churchfunding A House In Atlanta: Official Launch.  Rather than one big mortgage, it would involve hundreds of smaller loans. I think this is a great idea and so out of the box we normally think in. The church in America possesses enormous wealth earmarked for religious purposes but most of that wealth is either horded, tied up in real estate or used to otherwise make Sunday morning as comfortable and convenient as possible, in other words being spent on behalf of the giver to benefit the giver. Meanwhile there are so many real needs out there from crisis pregnancy centers needing diapers to kids from families that can't afford to send them to Christian schools to families who want to adopt and would be great adoptive parents but lack the resources required. Because I no longer work at a job where I make lots of money and stay at places like the Ritz-Carlton, I am not sure if I can swing the funds myself but I wanted to get the word out to those who might be interested. If nothing else it is a fascinating idea. As Dwight wrote near the end of his post:
And if I may dream just a little… it would please me greatly to see this experiment repeated many times by God’s people. I look forward to the day when I can help churchfund the needs of another Kingdom citizen!
Amen to that. Money in the hands of Christians can do a lot of different things but I will always prefer smaller scale, more personal financial transaction over dumping money more or less anonymously into the gaping maw of some huge organization. Read over Dwight's post, he has obviously given this a lot of thought and if you are so inclined get in touch with him.

Is it any wonder that money matters get so much attention in Scripture?

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