What Are Black Mega Churches Doing With Their Mega-Millions?
Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” — Matthew 19:21
I am not condemning the black church, or church in general, but I’d like to share my experience, my questions and my hope for solutions.
I’ve spent most of my adult life exploring my own personal faith and spirituality. Who am I and what do I believe. I work in advertising and it’s not uncommon to change jobs every couple of years. This has led me to new cities and a variety of different churches. While the pastors and the congregation changed, the Word never did … and neither did this strange feeling that came around with the collection plate. Where was that money going? I understand there are light bills, mortgage, pastor salaries and more. But when you add in building funds and random offerings, it left me with more questions than answers. Now the churches that I attended were rather small by comparison to some churches. The congregation would be made up of 200 people all the way down to just 10. And if I’m having these questions about my small churches, what is going on in the black mega churches of America? Could they be doing more?
The church doesn’t really like it if you ask too many questions. It’s as if you should walk blindly by faith alone. Don’t question the Word. Bu I look at the pastors of these mega churches with super-sketchy hippo eyes. The larger the church gets, the more opportunity there is for the pastor. There are pastors with music deals, book contracts, movie agreements and more. While their personal wealth gets larger, their congregation’s stay the same. On a much smaller scale, I’ve seen members of the congregation have their lights cut off, while still paying tides, and the church has failed to provide any form of financial assistance. Why does this go on in the black church?
Pay Your Tithes So I Can Pay For the Jet
Pastors today are living large. Bishop T.D. Jakes reportedly lives in a $1.7 million mansion, Bishop Charles Blake reportedly owns a 10,000 square foot mansion and let’s not even talk about Pastor Creflo Dollar’s need for a $65 million Gulfstream G650 jet. Why do I bring this up? Should men of the cloth not have nice things? They should. They are delivering hope and inspiring thousands, if not millions, and should be well paid for their work. But when was the last time you heard about a bishop, pastor or apostle give up material things to the benefit of others. Who was the last person, who had enough money to truly help a massive amount of people, sell it all and give back?
“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.” Luke 12:32
Who is selling off their wealth to help the poor? Again, don’t get me wrong, we don’t need every bishop, pastor, apostle to sell off all their belongings. If they did, who would be left to lead? Reggie Yates Outside Man is a fantastic documentary on Netflix that touches on a mega church in South Africa in its second episode. In the documentary we see a pastor who lives a life of luxury while his congregation lived in what many people would consider shacks. Yates ask a member of the pastor’s congregation how she felt about the pastor’s lavish lifestyle, which was a question I was also wondering while I watched. She responded in the most simple, yet logical, way ever. How could a poor person lead her and inspire her to do better. Okay, that makes sense to me. He went from the same poverty and now he is ballin’. That’s a testimony that will inspire others to attempt to do the same. I get that. But why don’t we hear ANY stories inspired by this passage from Luke?
Letting Luke Lead
The question of giving isn’t reserved to the pastor, nor is it necessarily a direct aim at their income. I wouldn’t care what the pastor made if I knew the company he or she was running, a la the church, was making a difference. Let me clarify this, as churches hold dinners, clothing drives, tax services and GED programs to say the least. But why haven’t they come together to help some of the epidemics that plague African-Americans … the people who are so devoted to them?
When asked how much it would take to fix the lead-leaching water pipes in Flint, Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder told the media, “We’ve heard from millions up to $1.5 billion.” While the city is struggling to come up with a financial solution, why haven’t the bishops of these mega churches called a summit and planned a way to raise the money to save their people from being poisoned. Maybe they can’t do the full $1.5 billion, but when I hear stories about Bernie Sanders raising $2 million dollars in two days in an online campaign … surly something could’ve been done in the last two years since the Flint water crisis went nationwide.
What other meaningful accomplishments could be done if our black mega churches pooled their resources? How about provide housing for the 3,463 people live on the streets in California known as Skid Row? What if they provided mass funding to the underfunded black schools that clearly lead to underperforming students? The list of ways our mega churches can give back can go on forever.
Mega Churches Are Home to Poor Communities
Another question that pops up when I look at mega churches are the locations. World Changers Church International, Creflo Dollar’s mega church in College Park, GA, has a reported net worth of $27 million. The poverty rate in College Park, GA, is 40% … 18% higher than the state average. T.D. Jake’s church is located in Dallas, TX, which holds the highest poverty rate for children among big cities (per Dallas News). These are only a few examples, and I don’t know what the churches are actually doing for the poor in their community. A quick Google search didn’t provide the answers, so they may in fact be contributing in a major way. Nor is it listed on their website where it could be easily found. I’ll chalk that up to charity and not having a need to advertise their charitable giving. Or so I hope.
Creating A Better Place. A Better Black America.
Let me reiterate, I think church is a great source of inspiration and motivation at minimum. I don’t think pastors should live in poverty or be abstained from a wealthy lifestyle. But I am questioning their creativity when it comes to their contributions. I believe they could be doing so much more. By pooling their resources, AND their wealth, pastors of mega churches could make immediate impacts in our community. So what’s stopping them? I challenge our black leaders to make a difference and encourage the community to join in.
These views belong to the author alone and do not reflect opinion of TheVesey.com.
Upon finishing the first draft, I asked one of the founding members of The Vesey to take a look at the article. I wanted to make sure my article was fair and the scriptures weren’t taken out of context and implemented in a negative light. In doing so, he brought to my attention a video where Bishop T.D. Jakes spoke about poverty and the church’s commitment, which I have added below.
Bishop T.D. Jakes speaks to the fact that pastors, along with every citizen, are already taxed. The congregation, is only called to give 10% while 33% is mandatory to the government. Because of the government taxing its citizens, he seems to put the onus the government to find a way to help the poor. While he isn’t wrong, our government should be doing more, but they aren’t. Much like the church has the power to do more, but don’t. He says all the churches together would go bankrupt and still be unable to solve the hunger issue. Maybe. But could you pool your money together and eliminate the homeless in Skid Row or fund the school systems in Georgia ? Absolutely.
The churches aren’t responsible for curing the entire world of hunger, but they should be held accountable for trying. They could make large impacts in rather large communities, cities and even states. And their success could inspire the government, celebrities and other high income groups and individuals to contribute as well. If not, what is the church here for but to help its people. Obtaining wealth, whether you pay taxes on it already or not, was never the mission.
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