"...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

Monday, July 25, 2011

$49.00 a Head: Bellevue Baptist Calculates the Per Head, Per Worship Service Cost

"Nickels and Noses" - that is what mega churches need to fund their bloated budgets and pay their mega salaries.

And at Bellevue Baptist Church, for each nose that walks in the door on Sunday mornings, apparently they need 980 nickels to fund the operation.

And they put that "fast fact" in their bulletin a few Sundays ago, as you see above. $49 each person, every Sunday to operate, or 980 nickels per nose.

That is just plain weird, to even think in those terms - of how much money they need from each person who comes for worship. You can tell quite a bit about an organization by what metrics are important to them. What they calculate, what they measure, tells something about what they value. Bellevue wants you to come, but they really like the money you bring with you, and they hope they can get at least $49 for every hiney in the pew.

It is no wonder that a church whose pastor beats the sheep over their giving, is thinking in terms of how much money they need per head each Sunday. Bellevue pastor Steve Gaines consistently teaches that a Christian must fork over 10% of their gross income each week else they and their money are under a curse of God. He even tells them to not give 10% of your gross income means that everything you own is stolen goods. And he tells them they dare not designate how it is spent, that to be obedient to God Almighty they must give their 10% undesignated.

The reference to $49 per head reminded me of the "Pie Charts and Giving Units" article I wrote back in September 2008, criticizing Mac Brunson's use of the words "giving units" to refer to his members (in fact it was the last article I posted before John Blount asked FBC Jax deacon and discipline committee member Hinson to open up a criminal investigation into this blog). Brunson complained that if the "5000 giving units" of the church would tithe on their average $50,000 salary, the church could rake in $25 million instead of the paltry $15 million they have to scrape by with. One of the funnier moments of the lawsuit depositions last summer is when my attorney was deposing FBC administrator John Blount, Blount admitted that after that article was published, the church decided not to refer anymore to people in the church as "giving units".

But maybe Bellevue is on to something. Perhaps it is not too much longer before mega churches start charging admission at the door. Perhaps Bellevue can issue a bar-coded bracelet for all tithing giving units that can be scanned by the ushers at the door of the sanctuary.

If you're not a tither and thus a robber and a freeloader, you have to pay your $49 at the door, else go home and watch it on the Internet.

91 comments:

Anonymous said...

Astounding!

Thy Peace said...

I had commented in the past about a possible similar scheme at FBC Jax. Looks like the same numbers (except it being applied all in one service) apply to Bellevue too. :)

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Thy Peace - that is TOO funny...almost 3 years ago you posted that comment.

You have a great memory to go back and retrieve that.

Problem is that the attendance at the megas is decreasing, without an proportionate decrease in spending.

It is not sustainable.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Used to be the mega churches would say "just get them here and we'll get 'em saved."

Now it is: "just get 'em here, and they will give a benjamin every two weeks".

One Salient Oversight said...

In defence of this particular graphic might I point out that what is being described is the COST per person per week.

Moreover, the graphic ends with the phrase "Your tithes and offerings help make this ministry possible. Let's continue to be faithful in our giving". There's nothing there which mandates a 10% view.

I think it is important for churches to use calculations like this as a way to gauge their financial state. On the one hand it could be saying "You should give $49 every week". Alternatively, it could be saying "We need to reduce our costs".

If the graphic comes from a church that practices compulsory 10% giving then yes it probably is an indication of their obsession with money.

Nevertheless the same graphic could be used by a less Fundamentalist church as a way to communicate its financial position to church members.

Man said...

Pay your $49 or go home and watch it on the internet? That server space costs money too. :-)

Anonymous said...

So VISITORS see this in the bulletin?

How embarrassing.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

OSO: yes, "cost".

Meaning they took their $20 million budget, and divided it by the number of noses in the pews in a years time.

You can work it backwards.

$20 million divided by $49 (we'll use $50) is 400,000.

Divided by 52 weeks is about 7700.

So they have about 7700 in attendance each week, and they need $49 for each one.

This is how sales people think.

"If the graphic comes from a church that practices compulsory 10% giving then yes it probably is an indication of their obsession with money."

No "if" about it. I provided the hyperlinks to the articles showing that their pastor Steve Gaines pushes the tithing doctrine about as hard as any of the SBC mega church pastors. He preaches the new "curse/redeem" spin on the doctrine, that all of your money is "cursed" as you earn it, until you "redeem" it by giving 10% - gross - undesignated - to your storehouse.

He also says that you are disobedient if you choose to give any of the first 10% to other Christian causes - he has specifically stated, do not give it to orphans, disaster relief in Haiti or Japan - you MUST fork over 10% undesignated to his church.

But if you don't do that, they're hoping at least that you give $49 per person.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Here is the hyperlink to see the 7/24/11 church bulletin in which the graphic appears.

Bellevue Today - 7/24/11

DAWG Watchdog said...

"I had commented in the past about a possible similar scheme at FBC Jax."

Pure speculation. HOW ABOUT RAILING HOW THE LARGEST PONSI SCHEME IN THE WORLD IS BEING DONE RIGHT UNDER YOUR SELF RIGHTEOUS NOSES IN WASHINGTON DC. NOBODY SEEMS TO SAY NOTHING ABOUT THAT.

"You have a great memory to go back and retrieve that."

That is because women are like computers in that "they store everything in long term for later retrieval".

Frankly, I think they are taking the Dawgs advice and giving "full disclosure" to their folks. Tom you ought to really be loving that!!!!

"Nevertheless the same graphic could be used by a less Fundamentalist church as a way to communicate its financial position to church members."

Totally agree. Everyone here is trying to be SUBVERSIVE in their opinion and interpretation.

Josh from FL said...

You may be on to something, Dog. With large productions, over-the-top characters, and interactive accessories, shouldn't only be a matter of time before they charge admission? That's what Disney does. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if we see this in the very near future. No, I'm not joking either. Just remember I said this.
;)

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Josh - I agree.

Before you know it, the pastor will be visiting people's homes to inquire as to why they are not tithing. Discipline committees can be set up to exert "loving discipline" to those members who are robbing God, and living in stolen homes, driving stolen cars and bringing a curse upon their families. If there is anything that would require discipline, it would be a man or woman who actually steals from the God of the universe.

I mean, come on. If what Gaines preaches is true, then how low can one go than to steal from the lovely, nail-scarred hands of the Lord Jesus.

So get busy discipline commmittes!

And really the trend in our society is to use technology to charge user's fees. Take the highways where you put an electronic device on your windshield to charge your account as you use the highway.

Why not charge worshippers for their attendance? Sure, give a visitor a few free passes, but the long-time attenders and members: pay your fair share!

Anonymous said...

And they wonder why believers are not going to church these days - simple reason is that the megas see see us as a dollar bill & not as individuals. They focus on money rather than the gospel & getting people saved. The sad part is they pay marketing consultants to do the very thing that is destroying the church.

Can't they see attendance at the megas is decreasing and it's not because of bad economy but the greedy men standing in the pulpit As the 1st anon stated "it is astounding:!

hopeandfaith said...

I was a member of Bellevue years ago....except for the sermons by Adrian Rogers, I never felt comfortable...In my opinion, mega churches just cannot instill a feeling of "being a part" of the family of Christians. Steve Gaines has the same mentality of the Purpose Driven Church...people have suffered greatly under his RULE. There will come a reckoning.

Anonymous said...

If that is the case then I have around 50 in attendance and we spent 110,000 last year in ministry cost and maintenance cost. Then I spend around 41 bucks per person in attendance. If I can work my way up 8 more bucks per person then We can be running with the big dogs.

NOw no joking, I look at what we do and we are very frugal on how we spend our money. It cost to run the buisness side of a ministry and also the ministry side of it. That is the burden but you can not view the members as you personal pocket book. IF you do then they better have a say so in the direction of the ministry. YOu can not expect people to give without giving them some degree of ownership.

Anonymous said...

There are power bills.

There are salaries.

There are facility costs.

There are ministries/missions that count on our support.

As a business owner, I completely understand the logic of the $49.

I need a certain amount of sales per day to meet my budgets.

If you don't like that concept, have your own Church in your house.

If you have a Group of Christians that choose to meet in a Building to worship and do ministry and outreach, there will be costs..duh..

How many House Churches do you know that send out missionaries?

How many House Churches have built hospitals and orphanages?

How many House Churches are seeing people come to Christ?

Thought so........

Anonymous said...

The house church is about the only means in China outside of the state sponsered churches and it seems like it has done more than our churches as in growth.

Yes there is the buisness end and it cost money. THe problem is we equate money = effective ministry. No the Spirit of God = effective ministry. Will there be a financial burden yes.

Anonymous said...

"How many House Churches do you know that send out missionaries?

How many House Churches have built hospitals and orphanages?

How many House Churches are seeing people come to Christ?

Thought so........"

Well said anon and to the point, but just like our illustrious President, the facts don't count.

The only thing that counts is backbiting, gossip, innuendo, jealousy, etc., etc etc.

Anonymous said...

DAWG watchdog said:

Pure speculation. HOW ABOUT RAILING HOW THE LARGEST PONSI SCHEME IN THE WORLD IS BEING DONE RIGHT UNDER YOUR SELF RIGHTEOUS NOSES IN WASHINGTON DC. NOBODY SEEMS TO SAY NOTHING ABOUT THAT.

Totally agree. Everyone here is trying to be SUBVERSIVE in their opinion and interpretation.


Off topic... but how in the world can someone who uses such poor English in one paragraph use a word like subversive in the next?

Sharon said...

I can tell you what my UU church does. They make some vague comment about helping with the expenses, then they take an offering. I think if you officially join, you agree to financially support the church.

I think I also read that if you're Mormon, they DO come to your house and keep track of if you're giving enough money.

I do think the comments re charging admission are kinda funny. In some churches, especially, Sunday morning is definitely a "show." So why NOT charge admission? Takes money to do it up right! Sorta like a theatre production. And if that's what people want, they should pay for it.

Sharon said...

Oh, I also found out that our UU church rents out their building for other groups. I think that may be a significant source of income for them, although I'm not sure of that. Sounds reasonable to me. I think they do allow alcohol use for these groups, but they keep a close eye to make sure the building is respected, etc. So refreshingly practical and sensible!

Anonymous said...

"How many House Churches do you know that send out missionaries?

How many House Churches have built hospitals and orphanages?

How many House Churches are seeing people come to Christ?

Thought so........"

Well said anon and to the point, but just like our illustrious President, the facts don't count.

The only thing that counts is backbiting, gossip, innuendo, jealousy, etc., etc etc.


TROLL on TROLL action.
Love it.

Anonymous said...

If I were a visitor to Bellevue and saw this in the bulletin, I would feel awkward and offended. And I would not return.

Junkster said...

Anonymous July 26, 2011 1:42 PM said...
If I were a visitor to Bellevue and saw this in the bulletin, I would feel awkward and offended. And I would not return.


Yeah, I get that. I'd probably think, "So they are telling me it costs them $49 every time I show up; I'll just stay home and save them the money."

Junkster said...

$20 million divided by $49 (we'll use $50) is 400,000.

Divided by 52 weeks is about 7700.

So they have about 7700 in attendance each week, and they need $49 for each one.


That's probably how they calculated it, or something like that. But it doesn't account for all the stuff that the church does that they still want people to pay for on top of the budget. Like tickets to their Christimas and Easter shows. They charge admission for those.

WishIhadknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Volunteers don't get paid. Why include them in the cost breakdown?

Anonymous said...

How many "church members" you see bringing someone down the aisle that they "won" to Christ?

Thought so

WishIhadknown said...

I am so glad you posted this. Now I understand! It’s all so very clear now! That’s why it was necessary to run off so many thousands of people, it saves $49 per person. It’s so obvious I should have understood sooner.

Junkster said...

Anonymous July 26, 2011 2:20 PM said...
How many "church members" you see bringing someone down the aisle that they "won" to Christ?

Thought so


Wow, this statement is wrong on so many levels. (1) Aren't the pastor and paid staff "church members", too? (2) What does walking down an aisle have to do with biblical Christianity? (3) Who, besides the Holy Spirit, "wins" someone to Christ?

I suspect that by "church members" you mean the members who aren't paid church employees, and by "bringing someone down the aisle" you mean getting them to joining the church, and by "'won' to Christ" you mean sharing the gospel with someone and/or being present when they commit their lives to Christ. If that's the case -- who's fault do you suppose it is that so few church members are activity involved in personal evangelism? Doesn't the responsibuility to equip the saints for service (including teaching and motivating them to share their faith) fall to pastors?

Thought so...

WishIhadknown said...

One Salient Oversight said...

“Moreover, the graphic ends with the phrase "Your tithes and offerings help make this ministry possible. Let's continue to be faithful in our giving". There's nothing there which mandates a 10% view.”

True but in almost every sermon, at least the ones I heard while I was still a member, Steve Gaines makes it abundantly clear he does not want anyone to be a member who does not tithe.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't the breakdown of expenses to the number that they give per person per week.

The problem is that they aren't cutting their budgets like the members of their church are having to cut theirs due to the economy.

They don't realize that many are still giving what qualifies as a tithe, it's just that the tithe is smaller because the salaries are smaller.

So they claim that in poor times, amp up your giving and you'll be blessed just as if you amp up your giving in rich times and you'll be blessed. That, my friends, is the flaw in the system.

I don't mind the church breaking down their numbers so people can see how much it costs to operate the church each week.

I have a problem when that church isn't trying to find ways to trim its own budget while so many of their faithful are having to trim their own personal budgets.


And small churches send and equip thousands of missionaries each year. It's the beauty of the Cooperative Program.

When its managed properly too...

Anonymous said...

Someone made the comment how many house churches bring people to Christ, building hospitals etc .

"if" house church is only legitimate if they're winning people to Christ then the same standard of effectiveness should be applied to traditional church.

It looks to me like some at fbcjax feel threatened by Smyrl leaving. FBC announced last Sunday new ministry to reach out in jax... and after new video at lhbc site.

I guess apostle Paul wasn't in a real church, no music program, visitor bags, or hospitals being built by him.

JC said...

I am a pastor of a church that averages 275 in worship. I did this math for my church and it came out to about $20 per person. We take in a lot more than what we spend (praise the Lord) however I think that $49 is extremely high. I understand mega churches have more expenses but they also have more people. I don't agree with much on here, but I would have to agree that this is too much. Just my opinion though!

Tikatu said...

$49 per person? No reduced price for children under 12 or adults over 65? No student discounts? No children under 3 are free?

If a church is going to start charging admission, they should price things like other places do. ;D

Anonymous said...

The Church is a Business!!

Jesus had a Treasurer!

Where did Judas get the money?

From Offerings!

$49 is what we spend on dinner out at Chili's.

IT IS A BUSINESS...JESUS RAN A BUSINESS...THE EARLY CHURCH HAD MONEY ISSUES...

GET A LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow...Jesus was a carpenter.

He was a small business owner.

He understood cash flow.

Our Church has bills.

Should the Church not understand cash flow?

And the problem is????

Former BBCer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

WD - I thought you had installed TROLL software. It hurts my brain to read his ignorant on sentence comments with: ... ??? and !!!

Anonymous said...

I have a hard time believing that story about Gaines and the businessman. I think its just another crock of bull thought up by a disgruntled member (if they even go to that church). I am not a Gaines fan but that's even beyond the line of ridiculous.

If you're going to lie about a preacher, at least tell a believable lie.

Anonymous said...

Without a blog like this how would we truly know the many disfunctional behind the scenes that goes on within the mega churches - yes people, I'm a believer of what the majority on this blog reports.

Even the "resident troll" (some call him/she) shows the kind of ignorant & deceitful people we are dealing with. Thanks to W/Dog and all of you who are standing up for truth!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I agree, the story about Gaines visiting people's businesses is bogus. I'm deleting it. The pastor visiting businesmen to "force" them to give them money? What, is he holding a gun to their head? The pastor is "skaking down" people? Taking food from the orphans.

Come on. I've read something like that on the Internet at a site of a guy who used to be the biggest Gaines supporter, and who used to ridicule the people who were wanting to hold Gaines accountable for the PW fiasco.

I don't buy it, especially coming from this guy.

Anonymous said...

"If you're going to lie about a preacher, at least tell a believable lie."

Yeah, something more believable. Like a mega-church pastor that would climb a fence and trespass on private property to try to intimidate a finance manager at the ministry.

Or a senior pastor that would send his goons over to a member's house to tell him not to say "amen" during the service so loudly.

Or a man of God who would hide the fact that he has a pedophile on staff because he didn't want to have his name in the paper again for another scandal.

Tell more believable lies like those in the future.

WishIhadknown said...

Been doin’ some figurin’. If we take the median family income in Memphis of $34,203 so the tenth on that is $3,420.30. (We need to stop calling it the tithe, that term is archaic and creates a false spirituality.) For simplicity round that up to $3,500 and with an estimated attendance of 7,700, we can estimate there are 2,500 families of four in Bellevue. Multiply the estimated tenth times the estimated number of families (2,500 times $3,500) and we arrive at the estimated revenue Bellevue should expect from its members’ of $8,750,000. Therein lies the problem, with an annual budget in excess of $20,000,000 Bellevue is a church living outside of its means. Bellevue is spending more money than it should rightfully take in. Even adding in an additional 25% ($4,000,000) for missions, the church’s gross income exceeds its expected gross by $7,250,000.

By my numbers the problem is not members not giving enough. The problem is a church living above its means.

Former BBCer said...

Call me a liar if you want (i know it's hard to believe)but the it's true. I'm not going to publicize anyones name but it'll come out eventually. Maybe in the meantime you could write down your thoughts about what alls wrong with a preacher doing what i said in the made up story.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Yeah, something more believable. Like a mega-church pastor that would climb a fence and trespass on private property to try to intimidate a finance manager at the ministry.

Or a senior pastor that would send his goons over to a member's house to tell him not to say "amen" during the service so loudly.

Or a man of God who would hide the fact that he has a pedophile on staff because he didn't want to have his name in the paper again for another scandal.


I didn't see the deleted comment upthread, but I'd just like to remind everyone that truth is often stranger than fiction. Whatever was in the comment may be true, too, but we know the above-mentioned things happened.

T Goodwill said...

See, this is why we should all be attending home church... if we each brought along $49 worth of morning tea, church would be totally awesome!

Even better... if we are determined to spend money on facilities for ourselves, members of a home church group could bring $49 worth of home renovation/gardening vouchers each week to this week's host - for the glory of God, of course.

Tom Rich said...

Pastor JC of 4:05 pm

I don't know if $49 is high or low. The point is that who would even think in these terms? Would you have ever thought to calculate, and then publish the per head, per service cost of your church operations? I don't think so.

Businesses do these sorts of calculations. Salesman have quotas, and they know certain percentages of prospects buy, and they know meeting quotas is about volume.

This is a business model - nickels and noses. More noses over time means more nickels.

Anon 5:25 - you say "cash flow" - what on earth does a per head, per service number have to do with "cash flow"? That calculation serves nothing in terms of communicating anything of value to the congregation. People give money at church based on their love for the lord and based on their income and generosity. Everyone is at different levels.

The calculation and publication of the number reveals more about the church leadership's focus than it does anything else.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Back to the topic at hand... why doesn't Bellevue just start selling tickets to worship services like they already do for the Singing Christmas Tree and Memphis Passion Play? I'm serious. Follow me here. Once or twice a year during an annual or bi-annual blitz, members could buy season tickets and select their service(s) and seats. They could use the same gold, silver, and bronze price levels already in place for the SCT and MPP. Or let members submit bids for the really good seats. Highest bid(s) win.

Or why not seat sponsorships? You've seen those little memorial plaques on the backs of seats at theaters and church pews... "Given in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Johnson." Or those "in memory of/in honor of" bricks in a new building. Members could "sponsor" seats for the use of visitors and "less-blessed" members.

Or, why not take it to the next logical level and let whole families or groups such as SS classes, purchase sections of season tickets to worship services? Buy 9 and get one free. It would be like buying season box seats at the stadium. You'd get your own personalized little nameplate(s)... maybe a golden rope... nothing as flashy as Honey's infamous glitzy banner... although there's yet another idea to consider!... but just something simple and tasteful such as "This seat provided for our special guests through the faithful storehouse tithes of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Johnson."

Then you can pray for/over your own seat(s) not just on Sunday morning but every day! With every seat purchase you get a customized wallpaper file to serve as a daily reminder.

Then there could be an interactive seating chart online where you could go every day to pray over yours and other people's seats. Provide free access to the site with every season ticket purchased, and charge an access fee to anyone who doesn't pony up for at least one seat. As you move your mouse over each seat, the purchaser's name appears, perhaps even with a customized message on the virtual IMAG, and you can pray specifically for that person.

If you're going to be out one Sunday you can "release" your seat(s) for visitors to be able to worship for free, kind of like they used to do at the SCT and MPP performances an hour or two before show time. You can still pray for your seat(s) and those who will potentially sit in them even though you won't be there in person.

I think it's genius! A church would pay a guy like Maurilio big money for this advice which I just provided free of charge.

It wouldn't surprise me to see them try something like this for members as a fundraising gimmick. They already make the staff pray over every single seat in the auditorium early Sunday mornings. (For some reason I envision this huge theater-seat rosary.) They've got some seats in the balcony and back of the auditorium that must have dust an inch thick on them. From the looks of things the staff has been slacking.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

NewBBC - now that is some forward thinking. I love it. That is taking the trends we see, and extending them to their (il)logical conclusion!

FBC Jax has done very well to avoid the ticket selling. The Passion Play is free of charge. In the past they would have some pretty big name musicians in and not charge fees like many other churches.

But on the other hand, the Pastor's Conference has become a marketing bonanza. They sell promotions packages that I have criticized for several years.

But you have some novel ideas that combine the marketing and technology - buying seats, releasing them, virtual IMAGs to see whose seat is whose.

Maurilio, are you listening?

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that the cost per head is gonna go up!!

JC said...

Tom,
The post about the average income in Memphis is proof that the $49 figure is too high. I can't imagine the burden it would place on me and my church family to tell them they are going to have to double their giving or we will have to "cut ministries." I believe the pastor and staff should make a good living, because unless you have been there you just don't understand what they go through, but there are guaranteed hundreds of things that could be better mananged,, including the staff salaries. I would guarantee that tens of thousands of dollars are being blown on worthless stuff. That cost is too high! I would like to see the average "cost per person" of other churches represented here on this board. Just to see where the median would be.

Anonymous said...

Did God not instruct His People to give and construct buildings in the Bible?

Did God not tell His People to give to building campaigns?

Did Jesus not talk about money in 43% of his parables?


•Jesus talked about money more than He did Heaven and Hell combined.
•Jesus talked about money more than anything else except the Kingdom of God.
•11 of 39 parables talk about money.
•1 of every 7 verses in the Gospel of Luke talk about money.

Oh..I get it...its wrong for Pastors to talk about money???

Is it really because you are greedy and don't give???

JC said...

Anon 9:42,
I talk about money from the pulpit, but I also have the responsibility to "manage" (for lack of a better term) what is given to the church. How can the church teach families how to budget, get out of debt, live within their means, etc... when the church is not doing those very same things? It would be like the federal government teaching all of us how to save money and not get into debt. Would you take that advice? I think not. For me, the talking about money is not the issue, but rather how much does it really take to properly and correctly maintain the ministries of the church? I guess I am looking at it from a different point of view.

Anonymous said...

I think many of you are missing the point of this posting. JC and WishIhadKnown seem to be onto it. The idea that it takes $49 a head to lead the lost into the faith of Jesus Christ is absurd and shameful. In many African countries, the average monthly household income is $49 and a church of Jesus Christ needs that much per person for two hours of "entertainment"? Really? I can see some pretty spectacular stuff for $49 and not be barked at by an overpaid, self-righteous windbag every week. Who here would continue to attend their own church if they had to pay at the door?

All of this begins to get into basic economics - if it costs $49 per person to run an organization, how do we measure return on the investment? Is it souls saved or families restored? It would seem to me that the Bible speaks more of frugality than extravagance so would the measure of success on a purely economical level be the lower the per head cost to keep the doors open on your church?

Lets make this real simple. I can attend the local megachurch in my area which happens to be First Baptist Woodstock and be presented with the gospel in such a manner that it costs said church approximately $40 per person to tell me about Jesus. Or, I can attend the little church on the hill just down the road from the megachurch whose overhead is much lower thus resulting in a $5 per head cost to hear about Jesus. They both talk about the same Savior and preach from the same book but the clear difference would be the level of presentation - the WOW factor, so to speak. It seems pretty clear to me that if you want to honor the spirit of the teachings of Jesus Christ, a penny-less wanderer who owned nothing, that the smaller the per person cost would be the most honoring.

Let's not even consider how much local revenue the church sucks out of its communities when it needs $20 million a year to provide a service that we all can get ourselves - tax free!

Whoops, sorry about all that - I forgot how many people need to be paid for a job that is all together unnecessary. Are we talking about the government or the modern church?

Anonymous said...

Pastor JC,
Your comments are exactly what believers want to hear when it comes to financial accountability.

In these days of economy stress seeing a Pastor advertise for cruises, etc., that only the affluent can afford is just plain dumb on their part.

Thanks for your input on this blog.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Great comments are the last three...thanks!

Anonymous said...

Did God not instruct His People to give and construct buildings in the Bible?

The answer is "Yes".

So, does that mean that in the Bible era that they had facility upkeep charges?

The answer is "Yes".

So, does that mean that if you have a really small building versus a larger building, that the larger building will requre more money and upkeep?

The answer is "Yes".

So, if a Church is feeding hungry people like Woodstock First does and gives more to World Missions like Woodstock First does, and offer Family Counseling and Student Outreach like Woodstock First does, will that cost more money?

The answer is "Yes".

So, why do these little Churches or House Churches only reach a few people? Why do they never reach out to the Community? Is it because they really don't care about people's souls and that really they are just a social group?

The answer is "Yes".

Anonymous said...

Are you a TROLL?

The answer is "Yes".

Anonymous said...

Does the Truth make one a Troll?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:52am - do some research before you spout out that miss-information. FBCW invests in those ministries but does not run them or completely underwrite them. In fact, there are many others in the community that also contribute financially to those particular ministries that don't even attend FBCW.

Does FBCW do good?

The answer is "Yes".

Do good people attend FBCW?

The answer is "Yes".

Did FBCW spend $64 MILLION on a building to honor the penny-less savior of all mankind?

The answer is "Yes".

Does FBCW refuse to divulge the salaries of the Senior Staff as well as Johnny Hunt?

The answer is "Yes".

Are you blindly following the word of nice people without questioning the validity or Biblical basis for such financial policies?

The answer is "Yes".

Are you accusing smaller churches of being "social groups" simply because they don't have trolley's bringing their members to the front door?

The answer is "Yes".

Do you need to have a more open mind and ask a few more questions?

The answer is "Yes".

Is this the most annoying way to converse in the comment section of a blog?

The answer is "Yes".

Anonymous said...

"Does the Truth make one a Troll?"

No.
Being a TROLL makes one a TROLL.

Anonymous said...

Does the TROLL enjoy answering his own asinine questions?

The answer is "Yes".

Anonymous said...

Ha, Ha, that last one is really funny...

Anonymous said...

To the troll saying that 43% of the parables talk about money and then follows it up with 11 out of the 39 parables were about money.

Um, that would actually be around 28% of the parables were about money.


And I'm still trying to find where the New Testament church has to build buildings...

And I'm still trying to find how spending 64 million on a building is remotely responsible stewardship of finances when we're told the things of Earth will pass away...

Anonymous said...

Wow - well said!!!!!

JC said...

Anon 11:52,
To say that smaller churches don't care about the lost and are "social clubs" is one of the most asinine statements that I have ever read. What you don't understand is that at one point those mega-churches were small too. All because my church is not a mega-church doesn't mean we could care less if people around us go to hell. I wish WD would remove your comment because of stupidity. It need not be displayed.

Junkster said...

WishIHadKnown,
I like your method of estimating a church's projected revenues.

But it would probably be more accurate to use the medium income of BBC membership, or likely potential members, than the median Memphis income. (Right or wrong, about 50% of the Memphis population doesn't fit the typical BBC demographic, the majority of whom are in lower income brackets.)

With this in mind, the median income to use in the calculations would be more like $45K, resulting in estimated revenue $11.25 million. But even so, BBC's budget is still abouut twice what would be expected with these calculations.

Since it is highly likely that the majority of BBC's membership gives less than 10%, the bulk of the funding for the ~$20 million budget must be coming from a relatively small number of very wealthy people.

(Democrat politicians would be very pleased if our nation's budget were funded in that same way.)

Junkster said...

NBBCOF,
Great comments on selling seats. Wouldn't surrise me to see at least some of it implemented in mega churches at some point.

Funny thing is that something similar was once commonplace. In the 1700s and 1800s, it was common to have a family pew, reserved for a family based on their ongoing contributions, called a "pew tax." This was a primary funding source for churches in those days.

Anonymous said...

(Democrat politicians would be very pleased if our nation's budget were funded in that same way.)

It already is. The top 1% of wage earners pay 50% of all taxes. 50% of the population pays no taxes at all.

Junkster said...

Anonymous July 27, 2011 2:42 PM,

Yes, you're right. I should have said "Democrat politicians would be very pleased if our nation's budget continued to be funded in that same way."

Anonymous said...

"Will a man Rob God?"

Interestingly, many who preach that sermon do just that!

How?

By forgetting the needy, orphans and widows, yet their stocking always seems full. Just check out how they dress.

Anonymous said...

"It already is. The top 1% of wage earners pay 50% of all taxes. 50% of the population pays no taxes at all."

It is easy to do what the quote above implies about INCOME taxes: you just have to make around $35-40K. All of us get the same deductions on the first $35-40K that people that pay no taxes get--we just happen to make additional money. Those who pay no income taxes still pay property taxes (as part of rent or on property) and sales taxes on almost all they make. They also pay social security taxes and medicare taxes.

I want to pay lots of taxes. I have never known anyone to pay lots of income taxes who did not have a lot of income.

Anonymous said...

The thing you have to remember about figuring averages is that you have outlying number points which can skew the average number one way or the other.

Being located in Memphis, I would hardly be surprised if there were families whose tithe amount is in the several hundred thousand dollar range.

So, since the budget is around 20mil while the averages trend to around a budget of 11.5mil (give or take), it's not hard to surmise that there are families whose tithes make up the 9mil difference.

So, it's not hard for me to think that perhaps these rumors (repeat, RUMORS) of Gaines visiting his high givers has some credence in light of just his sermons which bash rather than teach the sheep.

However, regardless of what we think about Gaines, the thing that bothers me most is that this is clearly a church living beyond its means and is clearly not being good stewards of what God has bless this church with now.

And there are many churches with similar numbers compared to Bellevue operating with literally half the budget, if not less than that.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"I can attend the local megachurch in my area which happens to be First Baptist Woodstock"

Georgia?

Say Hello, as rumor has it that Steve Gaines will be there this coming Sunday
(on his vacation and to boost his income)

http://www.fbcw.org/guestspeakers/

Summer Speaker Series

We are very honored to have these men in our pulpit and sharing with you.
Below, you can learn more about our July 2011 Guest Speakers.
Please join us each Sunday!

July 3: Bob Reccord
July 10: Ken Ham
July 17: David Barton
July 24: Mac Brunson
July 31: Steve Gaines
Steve Gaines serves as Lead Pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church since 2005.
He has published two books, Morning Manna and When God Comes to Church.


Boy this is nice, Jonny Hunt gets 5 weeks off?

How do you Say Mega?

.

Anonymous said...

This is why I almost left attending churches. Fortunately I found one that was not interested in building THEIR OWN KINGDOM, and was interested in building God's.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Good for Mac. Apparently he canceled his gig on Aug 24th at Hunt's church and stayed home and preached at his own church.

Johnny Hunt, by the way, last year suffered a bout of deep depression, and took five months off to heal. He discussed this at the FBCJ pastor's conference.

He also gets a month off every year sabatical.

WishIhadknown said...

Dog, I hope you will tolerate my posting on my previous post and the comments that followed. It is related to the topic in that it is marketing 101. As in, 1, identify your population. 2 identify the capacity of your population that is their ability to contribute. 3, measure your effectiveness by comparing your per capita contribution level to the capacity.
Ok gang, yes, there are many variables that would affect my calculations and indeed there may be certain well to do members that would skew the median to a higher amount but if as a church your appeal is to the population in general then you should also have less prosperous members that would move the number toward the median. Now, maybe these less prosperous members are not members of the church, now if that is not the case I think there is a bigger issue and speaks volumes about the church. Statistically speaking, the more members a church has then the closer the composition of the church should trend toward being representative of the population as a whole.
Also, nobody mentioned that Bellevue’s budget is $22,000,000 and not $20,000,000.
Junkster, your points are valid but a 28% variance would be an incredible variance and one I do not think a church would want to admit to.
All of this to say, should not Gaines be commending his congregation for their incredible sacrificial giving instead of berating them for not giving enough?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

WIHK - or don't even commend them. Just thank God. Thank him publicly. Thank him for $20 million. Thank him for $5 million.
If $20 million is not enough, then tell the people you need more, communicate why, and ask them to give if they are led to give. If you get the increase, praise God. If you don't praise God because he didn't want you to get it.

But they can't do that. They have to tell you of your obligation, your indebtedness, the curses you have if you don't give more, etc. etc. It really is sick when you take a step back. If you're knee deep in it you can't see how rotten it really is.

For Christians who get out of it, they can see how perverted it is. And if you're not a Christian, you see not just how perverted it is, but you marvel at the stupidity of Christians who can't see it.

Anonymous said...

"It is easy to do what the quote above implies about INCOME taxes: you just have to make around $35-40K. All of us get the same deductions on the first $35-40K that people that pay no taxes get--we just happen to make additional money."

Does it just happen that way or is it because some of us educated ourselves instead of quitting school, and then worked harder than others on our careers?

"Those who pay no income taxes still pay property taxes (as part of rent or on property) and sales taxes on almost all they make. They also pay social security taxes and medicare taxes."

Not if they don't own property, buy food with food stamps or don't have a job.

"I want to pay lots of taxes. I have never known anyone to pay lots of income taxes who did not have a lot of income."

I want to make a good living and pay less taxes. The government wastes billions of dollars every year and is currently 14 trillion in debt. No matter how much you pay in taxes the government will always spend more than they take in. Paying more taxes only encourages government officials to be more irresponsible.

Anonymous said...

"Not if they don't own property, buy food with food stamps or don't have a job."

Few buy their total food bill with stamps. Unless you are homeless and live on the street, you pay property taxes. I've owned rental property and the taxes were passed through to the renter. They are in there somewhere.

If you think that the "working poor" have it easy, just try doing what they do for a few days.

Again, you have exactly the same deductions on the amount of income the "non-tax-payers" make as they do. Or do you not understand how the income tax system works?

Anonymous said...

WishIhadknown said...
"Bellevue’s budget is $22,000,000 and not $20,000,000."

FYI
2007/08 budget was $23.8 million
2008/09 budget was $24 million
2009/10 budget was $21 million
2010/11 budget was $20 million
2011/12 budget is $20.5 million

www.bellevue.org/uploads/2011_budget_mailer.pdf

Downhill since Steve Gaines came on board (with his entourage)

WishIhadknown said...

Watch Dog you and I are on the same page as you and I have posted on many times before. Tell the people the church’s need and they will respond accordingly and generously. There is no need to beat the congregation up to drain their pockets.

Thanks anon for the listing of Bellevue’s budget I could not find it but found Wikipedia had the budget as $22,000,000 but I knew it was less than that so I guessed at it being $22,000,000.

Nevertheless, I stand by my original analysis; Bellevue is a church living beyond it means and needs to follow the advice the pulpit hammers the congregation with week after week and live within your means.

Anonymous said...

"Few buy their total food bill with stamps."

Few but not all - which was the flaw in your argument.

"Unless you are homeless and live on the street, you pay property taxes."

This statement is not accurate. Many people live with their parents or move in with relatives.

"I've owned rental property and the taxes were passed through to the renter. They are in there somewhere."

Not all rent. See above.

"If you think that the "working poor" have it easy, just try doing what they do for a few days."

This is a straw man argument. Feel free to prove me wrong by showing me where I claimed that the "working poor" have it easy.

The reason that I attended college and worked hard on my career was to avoid "doing what they do."

"Again, you have exactly the same deductions on the amount of income the "non-tax-payers" make as they do. Or do you not understand how the income tax system works?"

I understood your poorly constructed argument the first time you offered it. Unfortunately, it does not become any more cogent upon repetition.

As Adrian Rogers put it:

When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the end of any nation.

Anonymous said...

Reguarding Working and Taxes:

A Steve Gaines Quote:
"Why do folks in Washington not "get it" regarding the economy?

.........

4) everyone pays 10% income tax, no exceptions, no tax breaks;
5) raise taxes on all imported products.

It's not rocket science. Common sense still works."

- - - - - - - - - --

Hmmm..... A Flat Tax Advocate?

Did Steve just say do away with the "pastoral housing allowance exemption" ?

So what happens to the the split 15% Social Security Tax? Oh that's right, he's a Ordained Minister and pastors don't pay that either.


Everyone to pay a 10% Federal Income Tax on All Income, just like All Income is Subject to the manditory 10% Tithe?



Current No one pays Federal Income tax on the First of the following:

The 2011 standard deduction will be:
-$5,800 for unmarried taxpayers or married taxpayers filing separately,
-$11,600 for married taxpayers filing jointly,
-$8,500 for taxpayers filing as head of household.

A personal Exemption of $3700 per qualified person.

Along with a Blind and Senior Citizen Deduction of
$1,150 if married filing jointly and $1,450 if single.

All gone......according to Steve Gaines.

Any wonder a Mega Pator would want a flat 10% tax?

Married Filing Jointly 2011 Tax Brackets:

Taxable Income Marginal Tax Rate:
$0-$17,000 10%
$17,000-$69,000 15%
$69,000-$139,350 25%
$139,350-$212,300 28%
$212,300-$379,150 33%
$379,150+ - - - 35%

WishIhadknown said...

Be careful Anon, if you quote Adrian Rogers you’ll be accused of being a man worshipper. Good points though, keep ‘m coming.

Anonymous said...

Lol...This is lunacy -- although I imagine other churches will think it's great. How about charging an admission fee?

I think all churches should charge a straight-up fee. I wonder how effective that might be instead of all the pscyhological garbage they use. I'm guessing it wouldn't be as effective.

On a related note, I have an exciting announcement to make. After suffering through a "study" class at my church, and being condemned and browbeaten one final time, I did the "unthinkable."

Without saying a word. I simply stood up and walked out.

No words needed...In fact, I couldn't have possibly used words to make a more impactful statement.

Goodbye Kool-Aid drinkers!

Anonymous said...

ANON 1:18 said: "How many House Churches do you know that send out missionaries?

How many House Churches have built hospitals and orphanages?

How many House Churches are seeing people come to Christ?

Thought so........"

Apparently this ANON does not read much. If so, ANON would know the ersearch between institutional Church Christians and Hoem church Christians. Across teh baord, House church believers are more mature, more stable emotionally, more active in their faith, more involved in missions, etc. The data speaks for itself. And they do this on their OWN money. Taking responsibility for one's faith walk rather than turning it over to a Professional Church Staff.

Anonymous said...

"How many House Churches have built hospitals and orphanages?"

or

How many Churches have built hospitals and orphanages?

If you read carefully,
Churches did not build the hospital, People did....

http://www.baptistonline.org/aboutus/medical_center/history.asp

Baptist Memorial Hospital

Founding

In 1906, Memphis was in dire need of hospital beds. With a population of 135,000, the city needed 5,000 beds. Only 500 were available.

As early as 1903 or 1904, there were pockets of support simultaneously in Memphis,
North Mississippi and Arkansas to establish Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis.
One of the earliest recorded discussions was at a Shelby County Baptist Association
meeting held at Central Avenue Baptist Church in Memphis in 1906. A group of individuals from Mississippi led by W.T. Lowrey, president of Blue Mountain College
in Blue Mountain, Miss.,interested the other leaders and donors in the project.
Concurrently, groups in Arkansas expressed interest.



Opening Day of the Hospital

A small group of Southern Baptists sweltered in 90-degree temperatures when they formally opened their 150-bed hospital out on the edge of town in 1912.

Fund-raising Efforts

The fledging BMH fell on hard financial times three years after opening, with 10 paying patients and 20 charity cases. While a search began for possible buyers for the hospital, Mississippi planter A.E. Jennings stepped forward with an offer to underwrite the hospital's debt and serve as director. Jennings became the director-in-residence in 1921 when, after the death of his wife, he took up residence in a room on the hospital's eighth floor. Living and working under the same roof, he was on call 24 hours a day until his retirement in 1946.

In the early and midyears of Baptist Memorial Hospital's history, fund-raising efforts were vital. From time to time, the Southern Baptist Conventions of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee allocated funds when needed. However, ambitious public fund-raising campaigns were needed to fill in the financial gaps. In 1916, there was a formal campaign to raise money. Then a "Million Dollars in One Week" campaign was launched in 1920 to pay for the
Medical Center's South and East wings. In four days, $1,132,000 was pledged.
In the early 1950s, the citizens of the Memphis area, joined by the Southern Baptist Conventions, raised about $2 million to assist in the expansion of the Medical Center complex.

Anonymous said...

I used to feel the way the anonymous person feels about people who don't have financial control over their lives. Then I became more experienced and I have had to adjust my attitude.

I teach at a community college (after retiring from a "major chemical company"). I train people to make enough money to live quite well and pay a generous amount of taxes--and they go out and do well. However, I am amazed at the problems that many of my students have. Many of the problems are not the result of bad choices--but they sometimes come from these. However many more of the problems resulted from choices that seemed pretty good but turned out to be bad. (For example, any of you have Bernie M as your investment advisor?)

When you are feeling so arrogant about the good choices you made, remember that you may be just a second away from having some bad choices thrust upon you. It happens to many (and there are cases where even the best insurance won't cover it) and it may happen to you.

Jesus spent a lot of time talking about treating "the least" better and this is hard to do if you regard yourself as "among the best due to my good choices."

Mark said...

I'd get more value out of sending my $50 to a theme park each week.