"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Financial Transparency Update: Bell, CA Mayor, Manager, and Councilmen Arrested - Including Local Pastor

In early August a story broke in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell, California, where the city manager, the sheriff, and city council members were found to be earning ridiculously high compensation packages. I blogged about this story here.

There was no local press or government watchdog group keeping an eye on City Hall - and thus the city officials used taxpayer money as their own private stash.

In this mostly poor immigrant city of 40,000 where one out of six residents is below the poverty level, the city manager was earning close to a million a year, the sheriff about 1/2 million, and the part-time council members were earning about $100,000.

This week the mayor, city manager, and some of the council members were arrested for misappropriation of public funds and conflicts of interest to the tune of about $5.5 million. The citizens celebrated in the streets when they learned of the arrests.

One of the city council members arrested was the local pastor of the Bell Community Church, Luis Artiga, pictured above.

The LA Times reported in August that Artiga was appointed to the city council to fill an expired term not knowing what his compensation would be, and when he got his first paycheck he thought it was "a miracle from God." According to AP, Artiga also received unauthorized loans from the city manager.

Why did this scandal happen?

It's very simple. Where there is little to no financial transparency with how servants use other people's money, the money will usually be misappropriated to some degree. This was an extreme case - District Attorney Steve Cooley called the Bell scandal "corruption on steroids". When spenders know the givers are watching how nickels and dimes are spent, these types of shenanigans are very unlikely.

As reported by AP:

"Since the scandal broke, public officials, city managers and others have said the situation in Bell showed why people must insist that elected officials communicate honestly and openly with them.

'One of the problems that was obvious with Bell was the lack of transparency and the lack of involvement on the part of the public,' Dave Mora, West Coast regional director of the International City/County Management Association, said recently.

Cooley praised the Times, saying the scandal occurred in part because residents and much of the news media paid little attention to what was happening at Bell City Hall until the story broke.

Rizzo, Adams and Spaccia resigned and the council members reduced their salaries to about $8,000 following the disclosures."

There is that word: transparency. Financial transparency, that is. It is all the rage in government. Texas governor Rick Perry was credited with starting the trend in 2006 when he started posting online his office expenses and salaries. Now most states have passed financial transparency laws "placing records of government expenditures within the reach of the curious on the Internet."

When will our mega churches and our convention agencies get on board with the trend?

Until they do, giving by churches and individuals won't be as high as it could be, and unnecessary expenditures will continue to consume too much of the money that is given. Talk to Mary Branson about the waste she saw at NAMB under Bob Reccord. And mega churches are becoming less transparent, not more. And those asking questions about pastor salaries, gifts, nepotism - well, they aren't too welcome anymore. Or their wives.

So are the SBC leaders more interested in protecting their turf and their salaries and their bennies than they are reaching the nations? If they are serious about spreading the gospel as effectively as they can, they should try a little more financial transparency, and a lot less guilting the sheep into giving using a false tithing doctrine based on Malachi 3.

I don't think they'll do that, however. Look what happened at Bell as described in the AP quote above: when the city officials had to be transparent with their incomes and subjected to close public scrutiny by the givers of the money, the council member's salaries dropped from $100,000 to $8000 in no time flat.

Amazing what a little financial transparency will do.

By the way, I wonder if Pastor Luis Artiga's church practices financial transparency now?

75 comments:

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the verse "Where the people have no vision the people perish". It also could be if they have no oversight they lose their resources whether they are church members or not. Most ridiculous scandal that shows there are a lot of crooks out there just waiting to strike.

Anonymous said...

Appears this pastor was more interested in money than the WORD. They would still be taking big bucks if they had not been found out. Must have been a watchdog that found them out?

Anonymous said...

Ring the Bell, ring the Bell let the whole world see?

Provender said...

One of the ways to tell whether a church is too authoritarian is to consider asking about finances. If you are uncomfortable asking, there is a problem. In a decent church, you won't have to ask because the information will be posted publicly. But if you are too uncomfortable asking about them, it's a red flag.

Dr Who said...

I have a new label for those like Doug, Tom, Christa, Dee, BBC, etc., and those who expose these kind of predators...

"BEAGLES"

You guys can hunt em' up! Thanks for your missionary work to us the unknowing.......

John Wylie said...

Provender,

You are absolutely right. Every church I've been a member of had complete transparency when it comes to finances (except of course how much individuals give). Springer Church posts a monthy treasurer's report that outlines all income and expenses. You don't even have to be a member to obtain this information as it is posted on the bulletin board with extra copies on the table in the foyer.

My point is that transparency is just a wiser policy. It heads problems off long before they become a problem. I don't know about megas, I never have been involved with one, but at least all the churches I have personally been a member of have had a similar policy to Springer's.

Ben said...

"except of course how much individuals give"

Why are members in churches against their giving being transparent?

Not trying to start and argument but really wondering.

It seems the people in the church I attend simply say it is no ones business what they give. Maybe, maybe not. If I were a pastor I would have a difficult time being criticized for what I make by someone who does not give to help support such salary.

I was a money counter for a few years and got sick, not by what people did not give but by the complaints from the people who did not give. I gave it up because of the frustration I did not want to have in my life. There were times, in business meetings I wanted to stand up and say, who do you think you are to complain when you don't give. Wish I would have.

My vote is for complete transparency, not just for the receivers but for the givers.

Dr Who said...

It is not necessarily what the reports say. It is how the finance report actually post and report true figures in the right line item so that the membership can actually SEE and understands what someone actually receives as compensation.

It is very easy to move numbers and hide numbers within a budget if that budget is not understood or what a certain line item heading means.

It takes a C P A to decipher some of the budgets nowadays.

Just ask Doug Pirkle Jr. He sees 2 billion a year of budgets in GA...and oh those line items give him fits

John Wylie said...

Ben,

You ask a great question.

"Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:2-4)

I realize this text is specifically talking about giving to the poor, but the principle of doing what you do for the Lord secretly so as not to receive the praise of men is why many don't want to reveal what they give.

John Wylie said...

Dr. Who,

I understand completely what you are saying and I have seen church financial reports that are terribly complicated. Our treasurer does it in a simple format that makes it easy to understand. We have the balance from the previous month added to the offerings for this month, followed by a detailed description of all expenses, followed by an ending balance. Really simple.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Ring the Bell, ring the Bell let the whole world see?

Or hear.

Dr Who said...

John Wylie,

You now what I say because you see how easy it is to maneuver the proceeds.

It is those line items such as #9999 miscellaneous - and other classifications like this that Pastors and their discipled Treasurers/ CPA's use to get around the area of true Church compensation.

I know, I saw it! I know I heard it!

Numbers do not lie!

New BBC Open Forum said...

I was a money counter for a few years and got sick, not by what people did not give but by the complaints from the people who did not give. I gave it up because of the frustration I did not want to have in my life. There were times, in business meetings I wanted to stand up and say, who do you think you are to complain when you don't give.

Unless someone put their offering in a marked envelope or gave by check, how did you know who was giving or not giving? That's one of the problems (though certainly not the greatest one) with pastors who say they check giving records of those in "leadership" positions in the church or churches that require a covenant to tithe to be a member. There are people who for personal reasons choose to deal in cash only. Or maybe they don't want anyone knowing what they give. Or maybe they give to other organizations or individuals they think need the money more. Who are you to appoint yourself judge of who's giving how much when you can't truly know?

John made a good point...

... the principle of doing what you do for the Lord secretly so as not to receive the praise of men is why many don't want to reveal what they give.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Wylie, you miss the point completely on transparency and disclosure. What Tom and the other posters are asking for is 100% total line by line that includes every nuance of money spent. And that includes how much each employee, including you, receive in salary, expenses, retirement, etc. This is what is actually being discussed and not the standard summary report you see from most churches and corporations.

Posters here are looking for every dime from the pastor down to the guy that empties the trash. Although this type of transparency is foreign to business, this is what everyone here is saying is required.

TOTAL 100% DISCLOSURE IN FINE DETAIL.

Example for you:
Pastor Wylie salary: $95,000.00/yr
Car Allowance: $6,000.00/yr
Clothing Allowance: $2,500.00/yr
Housing Allowance: $48,000.00/yr
Maintenance Allowance: $3,500.00/yr
Travel Allowance: $6,500.00/yr
Retirement Funding: $15,600.00/yr
Gas Allowance: $4,200.00/yr
Vacation Allowance: $5,200.00/yr
Convention Allowance: $7,500.00/yr
TOTAL COMPENSATION: $194,000.00/YR

This is the type of detailed disclosure everyone is talking about right down to the person that sweeps the floors.

What say you about this idea?

Doug said...

The rich and powerful of "the local Baptist church" absolutely and most definitely wants the Pastor and his disciples to know what they give and HOW MUCH they give, because it give them more say so and POWER over the spineless leadership of these churches.

As well all know, Money = Power
as a Baptist.

Ben said...

"Who are you to appoint yourself judge of who's giving how much when you can't truly know?"

Most Sundays only about 30.00 came in as cash without a name attached to it.

In my circumstances, which you are unfamiliar with, I knew. Sorry if that burst your bubble. Then again, the Point I was making is not me knowing but the criticism towards what a person makes from those who do not give.

The self righteous live loudly in the modern church.

Ben said...

I think this info should be available to anyone who supports the ministry. Others have no right to be told. If a church wishes too, fine but for a non supporting member to demand is just wrong.

John Wylie said...

Anon 4:29,

I think it's a great idea. That's exactly what my church treasurer does, that's what I meant by "followed by a detailed description of all expenses". There is nothing hidden regarding any expense whether we are talking about my compensation, or what was spent at Walmart for supplies. My housing allowance, insurance, if the church paid for a conference, all of it is shown.

Phoebe said...

I have a degree in accounting, worked as an auditor for 20 years, and am a church treasurer.

Believe me when I tell you that the financial reports that churches hand out once a month and are gone over at the monthly business meeting do not tell you anything. All they tell you is the total offerings received, total amount spent, and what was charged to various budget line items. It may tell you that $2,000 was spent that month and charged to Convention Expense. It does not tell you that that was for the pastor and his wife to attend a convention in New York City and includes a stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. You may see an amount charged to Leadership Training, but that does not tell you it was $250 spent by the pastor to take the staff out to eat.

The only way to know for sure what the financial report means is to look at the source documents.

John Wylie said...

I forgot to say the only difference is that your example would be annual, all of our reports are monthly. But my total compensation for that month is completely accounted for.

Anonymous said...

http://changeworthmaking.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/church-transparency/

New BBC Open Forum said...

I think this info should be available to anyone who supports the ministry. Others have no right to be told.

What differentiates this from a country club where you have to pay an annual membership?

New BBC Open Forum said...

Example for you:
Pastor Wylie salary: $95,000.00/yr
Car Allowance: $6,000.00/yr
Clothing Allowance: $2,500.00/yr
Housing Allowance: $48,000.00/yr
Maintenance Allowance: $3,500.00/yr
Travel Allowance: $6,500.00/yr
Retirement Funding: $15,600.00/yr
Gas Allowance: $4,200.00/yr
Vacation Allowance: $5,200.00/yr
Convention Allowance: $7,500.00/yr
TOTAL COMPENSATION: $194,000.00/YR

This is the type of detailed disclosure everyone is talking about right down to the person that sweeps the floors.

What say you about this idea?


John can speak for himself, but considering the population of Springer appears to be about 600 people, I'd say he probably likes those numbers a lot!

By the way, you forgot to include his country club allowance.

Lydia said...

I think this info should be available to anyone who supports the ministry. Others have no right to be told. If a church wishes too, fine but for a non supporting member to demand is just wrong.

September 22, 2010 5:10 PM

So, the poor single mom needs to pay her dues to the club? She has no say or nothin to offer in the Body unless she pays her way?

Do you think that was the case in the NT church?

Ben, have you thought this through?

There is another aspect to this...what if someone is giving to another needy believer instead of to the church building becaus they could not do both. Are you saying that does not count in the spiritual realm?

Dr Who said...

Let me first say...If your church accepts this, I accept this with NO issues, BUT..........

$194,000.00 for a 600 member CHURCH - NOT including Country Club membership....WOW WOW WOW

Are you kidding me?

That settles it DR Who is heading to the next 600 member Church needing a DR as a Pastor!

I have a question for John Wylie? Do you have one of those FAKE DR degrees too or is it a legitimate educational earned degree which takes thousands of dollars and years to accomplish?

How can you sleep at night taking this kind of Compensation for this small of a congregation?

Now, it is truth time, John.

WishIhadknown said...

The compensation and expenses of every elected public official and public employee at the Federal, State and local levels is public information, available to anyone who requests it. As I have asked before, is it unreasonable to expect church officials to provide at least the same level of transparency and accountability? How many people have we witnessed to who say, “I am not interested in anything that has to do with the church because all those people are interested in is my money.”
Interesting that the Bell, California officials used bullying, intimidation and fear to hide their misconduct, where have I seen those same tactics used?

WishIhadknown said...

My behavior, whether good or bad, and how much I give or don’t give should not have anything to do with doing what is right.

Anonymous said...

To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not it is sin.

John Wylie said...

Just to let everyone know, I make about 1/4 of the example package that Anon made up for me. Lol

Dr. Who,

I have no doctorate. Could you draw one up for me? Lol.

To answer your question, I have an Associate in Pastoral Ministries from Oklahoma Missionary Baptist Seminary (unaccredited), I have a diploma from Faith Bible Institute, Monroe, LA (Video based institute), I have 18 credit hours from Arlington Baptist College, Arlington, TX, and 6 credit hours from Oklahoma Baptist University. I'm not looking to go up the ecclesiastical ladder, I've pastored these wonderful people for 11 years this coming Nov. I was 29 years old when I came, and I'm 40 now. They have my heart and they treat me and my family very kindly.

Dr Who said...

John Wylie;

Brother, get involved with the GA Baptist Convention and they will have you one real soon. I think GA is by far the most deceptive Baptist Convention state for using these FAKE DR degrees.

They are like the illegals who cross our borders who know where to get those fake id's....The GA Baptist know how to get and give out those FAKE DR degrees.

John Wylie said...

Dr. Who,

Ok I didn't know, I just knew you had such a fixation with FAKE DR degrees I thought you might know where to get one. I was thinking of your alma mater. Lol

Admit it, there for a minute you really believed that was my compensation package didn't you?

Now, it is truth time, Dr. Who. Lol

New BBC Open Forum said...

Dr. Who,

The anon was pulling figures out of the air. It was a joke. I think you may have confused my comment where I observed the population of Springer is about 600 (John can correct me if that's wrong) with the anon's fictional salary example. He may have said at one time how many members they have, but I don't remember the number if he did.

John, you forgot to list your hat and shoe sizes.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Hey, Dr Who...

Let's go snipe huntin' sometime!

John Wylie said...

New BBC,

Lol...Yeah we have about 75-80 in our worship service with high days a little over 100. Springer, OK has about 600 total population like you said. It's cool that you looked that up.

When I was reading Dr. who's comments I could tell that she actually thought that was my salary package and she was sure giving me what for. Lol

Anonymous said...

WD: "So are SBC leaders more interested in protecting their turf, their salaries and their bennies, than they are in reaching nations"? Next question: Are they reaching people here at home? How many people are actually saved in these churhes?

Dr Who said...

Guess I have been bitten to many times by snipes.....

Sorry John :(

I am now going to eat bon bons and watch Oprah

Ben said...

"I think this info should be available to anyone who supports the ministry. Others have no right to be told. If a church wishes too, fine but for a non supporting member to demand is just wrong.

September 22, 2010 5:10 PM

So, the poor single mom needs to pay her dues to the club? She has no say or nothin to offer in the Body unless she pays her way?"

It is not about paying ones way. It is about honoring God with our tithes and offerings. If you don't believe in such, I have no fight with you but if you don't support the church financially you have no right to criticize or demand to know.

"Do you think that was the case in the NT church?"

I think the giving in the NT church was grace based and it began with the tithe. If you have scriptural proof otherwise, I'd like to see it.

"Ben, have you thought this through?"

More than most.

"There is another aspect to this...what if someone is giving to another needy believer instead of to the church building becaus they could not do both. Are you saying that does not count in the spiritual realm?"

I am a testimony that even when I can't figure it out on paper for the balance sheet to work,when I am obedient to giving according to God's word, I always have enough and more left over. I have given my fish and loaves to God's church (more than 10%... All!), in obedience and been given 12 baskets of resources in return. The windows of heaven have been opened on me. I would have missed it have I kept it to myself or robbed God. Same thing.

If you don't want to tithe, fine but don't ask to see the books or know what you don't know because you think you have a right.

My pastor doesn't demand the tithe when he preaches. He shows us carefully what the Word says and makes it relevant other than historical.

Of course we have a few members that think not tithing is relevant. Keep your money, keep the windows shut.

I think v. 7 of Malachi 3 is the key verse in the passage. God makes a statement, they ask how have we done what you say we have done, then he goes into v. 8 and says... you have robbed Me.

I think one of those ten commandments speaks to this.

Anonymous said...

Well I suppose the widow that threw in her two mites should be dismissed since she can't put any more coins in the bucket. I don't think that what Jesus thought then or thinks about it today.

Ben said...

"Well I suppose the widow that threw in her two mites should be dismissed since she can't put any more coins in the bucket. I don't think that what Jesus thought then or thinks about it today."

Dismiss someone for giving their all. Maybe this is your philosophy but not Christs. She demonstrated tithe plus grace. Jesus honored her.

How much can you give that doesn't belong to Him already?

How much can you keep that doesn't belong to you, anyway?

Ben said...

"Was I disobedient for only giving my "measely" 3% as compared to you? Did I "shut the windows" of God's blessings? Get real."

According to scripture, you were. I am being real. I can only imagine how you could have been blessed.

If you gave 3% to the church I would support you seeing the books. It is those who give nothing I have a problem with.

I do not judge you for robbing God (His words), that is His place.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Time also money?

Anonymous said...

Ben, you are way off base. I mentioned the widow simply to show that while she loved the Lord and gave her all, the current mega preachers would not think much of her since she is financially BROKE. You have to know that megas hang out with the rich and famous not the low income earners unless you just don't know whats going on in the real world. Watchdog gave his 3% which to him was sacrificial. The windows relate to the nation of Israel. There is no mention of the word tithe in the New Testament. Now you are someone else may want to put the law of tithing upon the church, however Jesus never did. The curtain was torn in two from top to bottom at Jesus death. There is no mediator between man and God except the Lord Jesus Christ. Get over the notion that the tithe of old applies to anyone after the cross. Its a man made philosophy and like all of mans philosophies its wrong, much like earth warming.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Ben - thank you for your honesty. Your words help to demonstrate the utter ridiculousness of the tithing doctrine. It is unbelievable that you believe scripture teaches that a Christian man and woman who do not at all live an extravagent lifestyle, who together made decisions about the wife's career and staying home, and who have chosen under the leading of the Holy Spirit to place kids in Christian school, who drives old cars and such and gives generously of their time and gives generously of their income...that these Christians are "robbing God" shows the utter ridiculousness of your doctrine. Praise God that Jesus came to deliver men and women from such legalistic nonsense.

I could not have made a stronger case for the falseness of your doctrine than your own words. Malachi 3 and the "robbing God" is the most often misused scripture when it comes to the matter of Christian stewardship. I'm sorry that someone taught you this and that you believe it means 10% is the threshold between obedience and disobedience, and between blessings and no blessings. You've been duped. I feel bad not only that you believe it, but that some "man of God" convinced you that it is so.

I was taught it for years, and tolerated it, but always knew I was being obedient to scripture and to my Lord. But I will no longer stay silent and with the help of honest people like yourself who call faithful Christians "robbers of God", I will help others see the falseness of your doctrine.

But guess what, most people already know it. You are one of the few that was gullible enough to be duped into thinking that 10% is the borderline.

Lydia said...

"I do not judge you for robbing God (His words), that is His place."

You need to read that in context, friend. In context of the OLD Covenant and who God was talking to. The corrupt priests.

The real tithe is 23% or more percent. If you are under the law then you want to under the WHOLE law so you are robbing God with 10%. Unless you can show me where it says you are to give only 10%.

Remember Paul said that is you are still under the law, you will be judged by the law.

WishIhadknown said...

Of interest:
“What does the Bible say about Christian tithing?

Question: "What does the Bible say about Christian tithing?"

Answer: Many Christians struggle with the issue of tithing. In some churches tithing is over-emphasized. At the same time, many Christians refuse to submit to the biblical exhortations about making offerings to the Lord. Tithing/giving is intended to be a joy and a blessing. Sadly, that is sometimes not the case in the church today.

Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the law in which all Israelites were to give 10 percent of everything they earned and grew to the Tabernacle/Temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). 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. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system. The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. Paul states that believers should set aside a portion of their income in order to support the church (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says it is to be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving. The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “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).”

Anonymous said...

Ben - thank you for your honesty. Your words help to demonstrate the utter ridiculousness of the tithing doctrine.

Dog, is it not hypocritical to rant and rail about tithing when even the church you attend toes the "Tithing Doctrine" line?

Anonymous said...

When I was reading Dr. who's comments I could tell that she actually thought that was my salary package and she was sure giving me what for. Lol

Pastor, this has always been the problem with the internet and what is posted. I think because we live in such a cynical age people tend to let the worst thing they can think of grip their thoughts and then engage their posting before they fully absorb what is being posted by others and assuming that it must be the gospel since it is on the net.

Anonymous said...

WishIhadknown: Good points. I wish Ben had known to give under grace not the law. He may have just donated to some individuals who really needed money. Additionally, providing for a large building is found nowhere in scripture. Individuals in the first century met in homes or out in the areas around wells or under trees. Possibly one day we will return to that venue the way taxes are being proposed. Ben you arn't God so quit this notion of having problems with those that don't give to a church as they may be taking care of an elderly parent, a husband/wife with a terminal illness, or be a struggling single parent who lost a husband/wife. There are times when some of us have to stretch our incomes out from week to week.

Ben said...

"Remember Paul said that is you are still under the law, you will be judged by the law."

The issue now is not that I have to be under the law but I get to be obedient to the law.

It seems many want to look at the law as a burden when as a believer it is a blessing to be obedient to the law.

wold you recommend my pastor quit teaching on the ten commandments? That's OT. You can't use the gospels as an example when mentioned. Jesus mentioned the tithe and it is being thrown out of life's order.

To be so bright but to miss God's plan is sad.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - what you call "rant and rail" I call speaking the truth.

No, it is not hypocritical. It would be hypocritical if I MYSELF "toted the tithing line" in church and then came here and "rant an railed" against the tithe.

My point here, and the point that I made last year when we discussed the tithe, is that I am like most Southern Baptists (most meaning "95%") in that my entire Christian life has been spent in churches pastored by men who taught the tithe, but I have never, ever, gotten even close to giving 10% of my gross income, but I did what my Lord required: that I gave my entire self as best I could, as imperfect as it was, in terms of my feeble finances and my feeble time. I and my wife gave generously of our money and our time, and THAT was what was required. Could I have given more? Yep. More time? Sure. But so can every single American Christian give more money and more time.

To tell you that is not hypocritical, because EVERY church here in Jacksonville and in Gainesville that I've ever been a member of has taught the tithe.

Having said that, I will make a distinction for you from all pastors and Mac Brunson: none of my pastors made statements like this:

"Let me tell you something. When you join this church, you're expected to tithe. You didn't know it? You know it now."

They never said that we needed to give a million dollars in two weeks for emergency repairs or we would go in debt for the first time in 60 years, for things that weren't truly "emergencies".

My other pastors in the past 3 decades never told me that my finances are in a mess because I don't give 10%.

My other pastors, besides Brunson, never told me to "praise Jesus" I didn't get a raise, because Jesus saved me from getting further in the hole by NOT allowing me to get a raise - while they themselves lived a lavish jet-setting lifestyle.

My other pastors never proclaimed that my failure to give 10% was part of the reason why God was actively raising our gas prices, actively seeing how He could hurt our economy. They never blamed non-tithers for God's judgment on our country.

I just wish Brunson and the leaders at FBC Jax would be consistent. They have a discipline committee that has trespassed my wife from the premises for "church misconduct" of associating with her blogging husband....when will their discipline committee start sending letters to discipline their non-tithing church members and trespassing them from the property who dare to "rob" God Almighty?

I hope that helps you understand my position on tithing, and how it is not hypocritical, and how Mac Brunson differs greatly from my current pastor and all other previous pastors in my Christian life, in regard to how they teach the tithe.

Anonymous said...

Dr Who are you from Atlanta? and buy the way do you really know how much Doctor Brunson makes.That would be interesting to know. Could it be that money, that is the love of mony, is comming from other places other than the corporate members.

Dr Who said...

To answer your questions ANON September 23, 2010 8:57 PM;

1. No I am NOT from Atlanta but I am in the S E

2. I do know many in the Baptist Conventions all over the S E and they know me :)

3. Do I know Mac's salary / comp plan...? Yes and NO, It is so line item heavy it can not be truly uncovered and reported.

4. You put your name on here and where you reside and I will do the same...OK -

John Wylie said...

I don't understand how anyone could read the N.T. and believe that tithing is N.T. First of all, you never see God requiring the tithe of Gentiles. Also the Jews had to maintain the temple and the Levitical priesthood who had no inheritance in the land, it was essentially a religious tax on the Jewish nation.

Every passage in the N.T. talks about grace giving. I do believe in the principle of God blessing generosity, but in the N.T. we serve God from a different motivation, and we do so with our spirit, which is to say the inward person. The Lord loves a cheerful giver.

Lydia said...

I don't understand how anyone could read the N.T. and believe that tithing is N.T. First of all, you never see God requiring the tithe of Gentiles. Also the Jews had to maintain the temple and the Levitical priesthood who had no inheritance in the land, it was essentially a religious tax on the Jewish nation.

Every passage in the N.T. talks about grace giving. I do believe in the principle of God blessing generosity, but in the N.T. we serve God from a different motivation, and we do so with our spirit, which is to say the inward person. The Lord loves a cheerful giver.

September 23, 2010 9:48 PM

Amen! I believe the teaching on tithing is stifling to us. Barnabas sold his estate to help those in the Body!

Seriously, how is it ever a move of the Holy Spirit when one is calculating their 10%? (When the actual tithe was more like 23%)

Lydia said...

"The issue now is not that I have to be under the law but I get to be obedient to the law"

What law? Please give us a passage in the NC that will show us this law for the NC.

Anonymous said...

For any of you who desire to be under the Law how about stoning, also an eye for an eye. Sacrificing sheep, cows, or rams. Once you start down that slippery slope you have to do all the law not just part of it otherwise you are disregarding the reason Jesus came to do away with the law and give us GRACE. Possibly some of you have never read the old hyms "Grace Grace Gods Grace or one of my favorites "Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone" and All the World Go Free. No theres a cross for everyone and yes theres a cross for me. Quit judging from the Law which is over and read what Grace has replaced. The blood of animals could never do what the precious pure blood of Jesus does and it never will. Hebrews 10 vs 14 "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified". Hope this helps as I love that word forever in this verse.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Hi John - when you have a stewardship emphasis in your church, can you give us an overview of how you teach Christian stewardship to your church members? How do you help them grow in generosity? What do you tell them their responsibility is in supporting their church financially? What do you teach them about giving to other ministries or community non-profits?

Another question if you don't mind: if you were to preach Malachi 3 to your church members, how would you teach it? Does it have implications to them?

Thanks John. I appreciate your input more than you know on this blog.

Anonymous said...

When I was younger, I believed what the preacher told me about tithing. I had money problems and have had them most of my life. I was put on that guilt trip, and put a second mortgage on my home. Not once but twice. In order to give the tithe for the year, as I had fallen behind (the first time) and the only way to pay it was a 2nd mortgage. I also kept tithing and failing to be able to pay the tithe and the bills, over a period of 20 years. The second time was to catch up the tithe and the bills, After this I continued to tithe and fought the bills. I had major stress trying to pay these bills, but I tithed. Finally I made a "deep" study of what Gods Word actually said about tithing. I found that we are NOT commanded to tithe in the NT, and that it was strictly concerning the Jews. It took many years to pay these mortgages. I still have money problems, as I have not had financial advantages in my life for very long at a time. I also gave many, many hours of my time to serving the Lord. But, now I am set free from the Law (all of it) and I no longer am guilty under it. I do look at the millionaire lifestyles of these preachers and wonder how they can demand money from people that can't make ends meet. I know that Jesus loves me. He has blessed me in countless ways all my life. I don't feel that money motivates Jesus in any way. He loves me no less whether I tithe or not. Shame on you preachers who try to tie the blessings of Jesus to money!!! Once later in life I did receive a large amount of money. Instead of giving it to "the church", I gave it away to several people that were Christians and were needy. God blessed me and I blessed them, not the preacher.

John Wylie said...

Watchdog,

Thanks for asking me these questions and for your encouragement.

"when you have a stewardship emphasis in your church, can you give us an overview of how you teach Christian stewardship to your church members?"

The only time I preach on giving is when it happens to be the next text in preaching through a book, or when I lead a basic discipleship class in Sunday School. I have a lesson for that course entitled the Grace of Giving. In it I deliniate why we are to give, what we are to give to, how we are to give etc... The last point on how is two fold 1.) cheerfully and 2.) generously/sacrificially.

"How do you help them grow in generosity?"

By teaching them the attributes of God and showing that God is generous and He is faithful, and He takes note of heartfelt giving. Prov. 19:17

"What do you tell them their responsibility is in supporting their church financially?"

I teach them that we have an obligation to the poor and widows in the church (and outside too), the support of missionaries, and I also teach that we have a resonsibility to support the local preacher (I know that seems self serving but I do believe that's what the Bible teaches).

"What do you teach them about giving to other ministries or community non-profits?"

I encourage it and I teach them that it is as much giving to God as supporting one's own church. The kingdom of God is way bigger than Springer Church and if a person is spiritual enough to be supporting ministries outside the church, I'll guarantee you most of the time they are contributing to the local church as well.

"Another question if you don't mind: if you were to preach Malachi 3 to your church members, how would you teach it? Does it have implications to them?"

Well 2 Tim. 3:16 teaches us that all scripture is profitable for doctrine,reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, so yes, I believe there is an application to us all. Here it is,
Jesus told us to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's. For the Jewish nation that was the tithes and offerings, for us it is all of us. We rob God by giving our heart to worldliness, materialism, etc... When preachers use Mal. 3 as a text to even preach on giving in general I believe they are misusing the text, because nowhere in the N.T. do you find God commanding anything other than a willing offering, if we give grudgingly or out of necessity we are not being obedient. (BTW that's not just 2 Cor. 9, read carefully the Acts 5 passage about Ananias and Sapphira, particularly vs. 4)
In other words, God is way more interested in our hearts, if that is right, giving is a by product.

I just want to say I never drum up funds, take up special offerings, or coax the people to give more. I honestly believe my job is to feed the flock of God the Word, and let the Holy Spirit apply it to people's hearts. I'll say one last thing, I can't stand when a preacher starts a new building program and then all of a sudden feels led to preach on giving.

Sorry most post is so long. Thank you brother.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Hi John - wow, I'm speechless.

I'm not sure I've heard a preacher who calls himself a "Baptist" say what you've just said about giving and special offerings, etc. Ever. Thank you brother.

Dr Who said...

John Wylie,

If you are sincere and have the heart and mind you speak of on here, I feel you are the PASTOR like the other 80% we speak of.

In other words, not ALL Baptist ministers have the mindset of those whom we expose on these websites.

And for that, we are thankful! Now if you guys could get to the bunch such as Brunson, Gaines, Everson's - all of them, White, CANER (and many others who I should name) and their disciples you would start a turnaround in the SBC

Now get a backbone and stand against what you know to be abominations to Christ Kingdom.

Wade needs your help.....

Anonymous said...

Pastor Wylie,

I'm sure you had no idea when God directed your "fingertips" to this blog that you would become a Pastor to thousands of people who are FBC Jax Watchdog followers.

You have been a great encourager to so many of us. Likewise so many others also who are seasoned believers who share their wisdom about scripture on this blog. Thanks to all of you!

John Wesley Quote:
"To Obey God's Word You Must Know It. And To Know It, You Must Read It".

John Wylie said...

Dr. Who,

I would be glad to help in any way I can. But, I do want to say that the megas in no way represent the rank and file pastor who is in the trenches. So at times I post comments in their defense. But when there are legitimate issues against pastors I will urge accountability and transparency. (BTW Christa Brown's idea of a database of abusive pastors is wonderful and I certainly support that) I want you to know though I have no influence in the SBC because our church is not SBC. Any suggestions you might have concerning how I can help would be very welcome. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ben - even if I agreed with 100% of your conclusions about tithing based on the scriptures and application of it, I am still baffled by this question or aspect of it all: WHY must the local church building, or staff, or members where I choose to attend, be the recipient of the time and money and service I give to GOD?

Aren't we making idols of the church and its staff and ourselvs when we believe, and they teach, that to give to GOD, we must actually, in reality, and practically, give to the church budget, which is used for their salaries and benefits and operations and maintenance of the building for us to enjoy? (Of course if anything is left, they will give it to support missions or do some kind of real ministry, but this is very rare in these times. Especially when renovations are needed.) Isn't this the "robbing God" that Malachi speaks of?

You have either substituted your church for God, or have made them equal to God, so that what was meant as service and giving to God, actually goes to man. God is a jealous God. Read about it in Malachi. Like those priests, you and these pastors that teach the tithe, are like those in Malachi that asked "how have we robbed thee?" Modern answer: By giving your time, talents, service and money to men, not to God!

Wondering who to give it to? Jesus said even as much as you have done it for the least of these, you have done it unto me! He did not say, "if you have done it for your church or pastor, you have done it for me."

Ben, these guys have lied to you, manipulated you, and you bought it. Be set free. Stop feeding their insatiable appetites for more money.

Anonymous said...

If I were an upcoming pastor, I would read Pastor Wylie's thoughts and say, "let's see. I can preach truth like Pastor Wylie and trust God to provide. But that means I will make less and have less and won't get rich. OR, I can preach what Brunson and Gaines and Duplantis and Hinn and Osteen preach and get filthy rich and live like a king... hmmm."

Bless you PASTOR Wylie.

Anonymous said...

Dog, is it not hypocritical to rant and rail about tithing when even the church you attend toes the "Tithing Doctrine" line?

September 23, 2010 5:23 PM
___________________________________

The real hypocrites are the 85% who attend and claim to believe the tithing doctrine YET STILL DO NOT TITHE!

No wonder pastor's like Mac have such disdain for the members. They truly, sincerely believe they are preaching to a bunch of thieves who are robbing God and that if those thieves would just do what they were told, their brand and empire and building and campuses and schools would grow and grow and grow, to the glory God almighty of course.

"I have come that they might have buildings, schools, renovations, Holy Land trips, wife and son on staff, finest clothes and cars. And have it to the full!"

Anonymous said...

Question for you biblical scholars? Did the Levitical priests who collected the tithe, also give a tithe?

Why are pastor's presumedly giving back 10% of their salaries to the church that pays them? Isn't this hypocritical?

Anonymous said...

Question for the cowards at FBC Jax:

If pastor John Wylie can come on here and debate issues and voice his convictions and explain his positions, why can't ANY OF YOU?

Think about that one for awhile. :)

Anonymous said...

I just wish Brunson and the leaders at FBC Jax would be consistent. They have a discipline committee that has trespassed my wife from the premises for "church misconduct" of associating with her blogging husband....when will their discipline committee start sending letters to discipline their non-tithing church members and trespassing them from the property who dare to "rob" God Almighty?
__________________________________

That is a great, great question. It would seem logical to me that if you broke into the church and stole the offerings, ie: "robbed God", that would be an offense worthy of church discipline. So FBC Jax and Soud send a strong message that members cannot question or criticize the church in any way but they CAN rob God by not giving the tithe.

Message received loud and clear. It is okay for me not to tithe, as long as I don't publicy criticize leadership. And they think your blog has caused giving to fall? It might be their inconsistent church discipline committee.

Send those letters out to members accusing them of the sin of robbing God. Have staff hand deliver them for effect. Have the trustees and discipline committee sign them for even more intimidation and then read a deacon resolution on aggressively confronting non-tithers/God robbers. And this time, have discipline committee member Robert A. Hinson sign the letter along with the rest of the committee.

We are watching and waiting how the discipline committee will deal with these robbers of God almighty.

John Wylie said...

Wow thanks everyone for your kindness.

The reason why many pastors don't address critics is because they've been taught not to do so. I serve on the local school board and we go to an annual conference for training at OKC. At that conference a couple of years ago they had a former mega church pastor as the motivational speaker. In his address he said that when he was a pastor he had his secretary screen everyone who wanted to speak to him, if they were wanting to talk about a negative subject they could not get an appointment with the pastor. This is ridiculous and is in indicative of a person who is unreproveable. "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid."
(Proverbs 12:1) ESV

John Wylie said...

I'm sorry I meant to add, this is what standard ministry degrees will get you. Seminaries ought to get rid of their D.Min degrees(sounds like demon..lol), and only have biblical studies, languages, theology programs, in my opinion. Because ministry programs teach church growth technique, counseling technique, how to manage the church budget etc... That's why in my opinion the theology, or biblical languages program is far more helpful in aiding a pastor in performing his duties. Bottom line is church growth, church offerings, church success is not my rsponsibility; building up, nuturing, helping the people of God is my responsibility.

Thy Peace said...

I am truly humbled by reading the comments of Watchdog, John Wylie and the Anons. God bless you all.

Anonymous said...

No, it is not hypocritical. It would be hypocritical if I MYSELF "toted the tithing line" in church and then came here and "rant an railed" against the tithe.

Thanks for your candid response. Personally, I have been blessed enough to give more than the normal 3% given by most parishioners. However, I feel more like Corrie Ten Boom in regards to giving.

As she used to say God does not need our money. He owns all the gold and the silver and the cattle on a thousand hills and all the diamonds and fine jewels.

When God says he loves a cheerful giver. Her interpretation was right on in that "If you cannot give cheerfully, then why give at all since God does not need your money for his work." I have always thought that is what churches should teach. But you can tell that is not the way it is. Especially when you turn on the "Christian" cable channels and see all the "men of God" pandering for funds.

Anonymous said...

A-men to this anonymous servant of god.

Anonymous said...

As she used to say God does not need our money. He owns all the gold and the silver and the cattle on a thousand hills and all the diamonds and fine jewels.
___________________________________

True, but your local church does not own all the gold and silver and cattle on a thousand hills. Because they are not God. Yet they want you to give to them as if you were in fact giving to God. God does own it all. Those men at your church do not. But they want what God already owns.