If you have been around me long enough, you have heard me comment that a significant number of our heroes in American evangelicalism are multi-millionaires, whether it’s an Osteen, Warren, or whoever. They are getting very rich by being “in the ministry.” (This is an observation of fact and not an interpretation of motive). I am all for successful best-sellers, but we are fooling ourselves if we think that money is not an issue we have to face. I have often wondered if any of these popular writers designate the full proceeds of their ministry to either go to their churches or missions or whatever. I assume they are more than generous with their income, but that’s not my issue. I am concerned with the income in the first place. It is not seemly to me, no more than it is seemly for the CEO of the Red Cross to accumulate wealth asm the leader of a nonprofit humanitarian agency. (Remember that controversy? When is the church going to raise the same issue?)
Warren Smith, publisher of the Charlotte World, writes of the “Christian-Industrial complex.” Here is a sample of his observations. “Examples of the Christian-Industrial Complex are easy to see. The Women of Faith conferences, for example, rake in more than $50-million per year and are part of a for-profit, publicly traded company. The Christian retail industry topped $4.5-billion last year. (A bit of context: $30 per month can support many pastors in developing countries. That means that Americans spend enough annually on “Jesus Junk” to support 250-thousand Third World pastors — for 50 years!). ”
Michael Spencer of the blog iMonk goes on to comment: “Let me ask any sheep out there who are offended that I said your Jabez wall hanging might be a bad choice if they have any idea how much money is made by Christian authors, publishers and marketers? How much money is made and where does it go? When you see Joyce Meyer handing out a bag of rice, are you actually taken in that she deserves $50 million a year rather than mission agencies and humanitarian ministries?”
Think about it, folks. There’s something not right here.