Now that the church checks are purely informational, objective, and unbiased, my opinion posts will be a little freer in their... observations :). Buckle up, my friends. This will be a bumpy ride.
We hear it all the time: the Christian Church is so under-funded! We need to donate because the churches are struggling! They need us! Giving rates now are worse than they were during the Great Depression! Oh, my God!
If you haven’t figured it out already, I have no tears of sympathy for pastors and other church profiters who cry “under-funded.” And here’s why: it’s a big fat lie.
Christian Churches Aren’t Under-funded
According to Lexico.com, the word “under-funded” means to “provide insufficient funding.” So I have a few questions based on this definition:
Who decides what “sufficient” funding is for the Christian Church?
Will the funding any church receives ever be sufficient? Or will more always be “needed”?
What kind of funding is even necessary for the church to operate reasonably?
Here’s what I know.
Churches Are The Most Popular Recipient of Charitable Giving in America
According to Non-Profit Source, the US has about 10 million “tithers” that donate $50 billion annually to churches and nonprofits. 77% of those who tithe give 11-20% or more of their income. In fact, religion has “consistently remained America’s single largest recipient of charitable giving.”
What? That’s right.
While regular tithers make up a smaller percentage of any congregation and the percentage that most Americans give today is smaller than what they gave during the Great Depression, the disparity is negligible. Less than a 1% difference. So while overall giving percentages have gone down over the decades, whether that makes churches under-funded is answered. Not even a little.
I don’t think anyone can logically claim that $50 billion yearly to a single recipient (the local Christian churches of America) isn’t enough. But please, I’d love to see someone try.
Let’s consider another, much more important point though.
Many Churches Don’t Deserve More Money Anyway!
That’s right...you heard me. Or... read me.
Think about it for a minute. What do most churches spend their money on? How much is your pastor’s salary? How are the donations and tithes distributed within the church budget? How much of the money you’re donating goes toward the spreading of the Gospel and the teaching of the Word? How much goes toward helping the needy and the hungry and the lost?
Does anyone know the answers to any of these questions about their church? I’m willing to bet most churchgoers don’t know any of this about their own church home. Why not? Because most churches don’t give us this information, and they’ve convinced many of us that we don’t need it, nor are we entitled to it.
And here is where I get a little testy.
Most churches in America today are not financially transparent at all. Some try their earnest to appear transparent by providing superficial and irrelevant numbers to their congregations yearly, like how much they received in donations or how much they want people to donate for their next fundraising project. This vague information means nothing in the way of transparency.
How much does the pastor take from those donations for themselves? You don’t know. Should you? Say it with me, church checkers: YES. Why? Because you pay that salary, voluntarily, in service to and out of your love for God. They expect it from you in the name of God. So for the love of God, you are entitled to know how much the pastor makes! If they're entitled to your donations, you're entitled to the numbers. You have every right to know how the church spends the money gifted to them by God’s people. And yet no one knows these things. It’s a disgrace.
On top of that problem, we have simple proof of how our churches are spending God’s money the moment we pull into the parking lot on Sunday morning. Buildings worth millions of dollars, band equipment, sound equipment, professional bands, coffee shops, bookstores, thrift stores, merchandise, and the list can go on for miles.
Churches that spend millions of dollars on frivolous and materialistic luxuries that no church needs are not under-funded. They are over-funded and they’re misappropriating funds meant for God’s work for their own materialistic desires and “visions” of financial and worldly success. They don’t teach the Word because it doesn’t attract enough people to fill their bank accounts. They don’t deserve a single dime, yet they receive millions every year. Billions even. Under-funded? It’s a joke to even suggest such nonsense.
You want under-funded? You know exactly where to look, Christians.
Truly Under-funded Churches Are Hard to Find Around Here
With all the political jargon shining a light on Americans for being so privileged and financially successful today, are we really humoring American churches and pastors that cry about money? Let’s be real, guys. American churches are the ones crying “under-funded” the most while churches in truly hurting places are legitimately under-funded.
China, North Korea, Syria, Vietnam, Russia, Saudi Arabia....any of these places ringing’ a bell? The Christian churches that exist in these countries are under-funded because they’re not even allowed to exist. Countries, where Christianity is outlawed completely or at least severely suppressed and persecuted, are places where the Church can legitimately claim to be under-funded.
Yeah...I can hear it already: “But just because those churches have it so much worse than we do doesn’t mean we can’t ask for more. We need to pay the bills.”
You’re right, there are bills to pay, and just because others have it worse doesn’t mean we can’t ask for anything. But it means you cannot claim to be under-funded. You are not. They are.
To the Christians who wish to donate to truly struggling churches, look for the ones that are financially transparent, and fighting to pay the required bills, with nothing frivolous to point to. A church with a parking lot bigger than Wal-Mart’s, multiple buildings, pastors making six figures, a strip mall in the lobby, and a freaking play place for the kids like at McDonald’s...is not under-funded. And yet, those are the churches that use the underfunding argument the most.
Reminder: All Gifts Are Generous
Here’s another thing. Who in their right, God-fearing mind would dare call a gift given to them by someone else purely out of the goodness of their heart…” insufficient”? Like, really? I think you meant to say “Thank you”, dear Pastor.
Most Americans, as privileged as we are when compared to the rest of the world, are not in the financial position to donate money to anything. We live in an economy and monetary system that practically forces credit card and loan debt, and with any kind of concerted effort, takes several years to chip away before making us debt-free.
So with all of that in mind, I think we need to remind ourselves of something important: No one has to donate their money to anyone. Ever. Giving money to a Christian church is a charitable donation. Christianity does not mandate tithing the way some people believe it does, and we should consider all gifts given to Christian churches by their congregates generous. Because they are. No matter how much or how little it is.
You don’t have to give money to any church. If you’re giving anything at all, it’s generous. Even if you never give another dime. That one donation was still generous because it was a gift. Whether it’s $100 or $1. All gifts are generous. Period. Any church that throws the word “under-funded” at you is ungrateful, and entitled.
No Matter How Much You Give, It’s Never Enough!
One last point to consider, dear Christians, is whether any amount will be enough for your “under-funded” church.
Churches that rake in millions of dollars a year, or more even, are the worst offenders in manipulating the Bible to pressure financial giving, emotionally manipulating, and practicing all kinds of other abuse to make another dollar. They’re the ones crying “we’re under-funded” but they’re the ones making the most money.
So how much is enough? Who decides? Have you considered the possibility that no amount will ever be enough for your church? As soon as you give them one dollar, they want two. Then five. Then five hundred. You get it. If that’s the case for your church, I strongly suggest you find another one. A church that never finds your generosity to be enough is using and abusing you.
The Bible tells us we cannot serve God and money. We must love one and hate the other. Serve one and despise the other. People that use the argument of being “under-funded” are trying to manipulate you in service to their true master: Money.
In conclusion, there are under-funded churches, but they aren’t easy to find. Not in America today anyway. They aren’t the ones crying “we’re under-funded!” because those are the ones using every pressure and manipulation tactic known to man to get more money out of you.
Go to a church that doesn’t ask for money from the congregation. A church that’s transparent with how they spend the money they’re given, and a church that doesn’t believe the American Christian church is under-funded. They might be under-funded as a church, but if they think the American Christian church is, they’re lost on the map. Christians in the Middle East are struggling just to share their faith for free.