There’s a lot of hoo-har about Destiny’s affairs at the moment, but I haven’t had time to put together a full post. So here’s a few thoughts from a former church treasurer.
It’s good to see a pastor (and congregation) willing to stand up to Brian. It’s one thing for the media to pile onto a church, but when someone on the inside says “enough!”, members of other churches should stand up and take notice.
(Before I go further, I find it absolutely extraordinary that that pastor is already replaced. It appears that the new man was imposed from “on high” – it seems highly unlikely that a proper process has been followed for congregational ratification of any replacement. In my experience, such things can take months or even years.)
There is ample evidence that Brian is creaming it several way from his church, while living the high life. Now, if he is a good pastor, he should be held in high esteem by his congregation. But what is happening is that he is in receipt of a large salary and receipts of business profits from church-related enterprises and donations to those businesses! Whoever heard of a church donating to a business? according to Campbell Live, that was one of one two donations the church made in the last year.
Worse, the church members are being asked to make hard sacrifices to bring in this money. Again, there is ample evidence that members are pressured to give 10%+ of their income to the church, with campaigns on top of that to expand the church. Now, you’d think a pastor who happened to have a lot of money would be putting that money back into his ministry, but rather than advancing the kingdom, Brian seems more keen on advancing Brian.
This morning we have the revelation that EFTPOS and Automatic Payments are being used.
Now, AP’s are actually becoming quite common in some churches. In my last church, most church income came from members setting up automatic payments. Many people do give set amounts, and an automatic payment means that no money can be pilfered at any stage – it shows up on the bank statement directly. It saves people writing cheques or the risk of withdrawing cash. It also helps the church’s financial stability to a certain extent, as such donations can be counted on to a greater extent as people won’t forget.
But EFTPOS is quite another issue. EFTPOS machines cost money – thousands each I believe – which is a cost which most churches would simply find completely unacceptable and unjustifiable. Assuming the machines “pay” for themselves, you’ve still got a lot of money going in costs between the congregation and the church, and the perception that the organisation is too focused on money.
Another issue is the publicity of who gives what. Bear in mind that records are kept in every church of who gives what so that tax receipts can be issued, but this is usually through a number system where only the treasurer knows which number relates to which member.
But in Destiny, cash donations are frequently waved in the air. Ostensibly, this is to “bless” them, but that’s (excuse the language, but I can’t water this down) pure, unrefined bullshit. Churches always pray over money – but after it’s gone into the plate, which is taken to the front. Waving something in the air just means that everyone can see what’s being given.
During my tenure, I several times had to present a bad financial report. The option was always to cut back on expenses (which we did, including cutting the pastor’s salary – he volunteered) or for the congregation to commit to giving more. Every time a need for more money was presented, it was always accompanied by a statement making clear that in no way was any member being pressured or coerced into giving more. In fact, I once discreetly approached someone who I thought may have been giving more than their income to query whether they could afford the expense.
In most churches, Deacons (discreatly) approach people thought to be in financial need with offers of assistance. That’s what that office is for.
It seems that Destinly takes the opposite approach to all this, and rather than the pastor sacrificing for the ministry and the poor being helped, it’s the church creating the poor for the sake of the pastor’s wealth.