In the news today, we find many church assemblies in the headlines with a story that says, "Mega-church splits" or "Super Pastor found guilty of an illegal act." These headlines are becoming all too familiar, giving Christians everywhere a very bad name. The time has come for all those who have professed Christ as their Lord and Savior to stand on God's Word alone. The Bible tells us throughout Proverbs to get wisdom and understanding. We have to guard ourselves at all cost; these are the last days, and we know that in the last days men will try to deceive the church just as it says in 2 Timothy 3:1-7.
As a Christian nation, many so-called church leaders have found it very easy to manipulate the children of God, and as a Christian society, many of us have let them. It seems that everyone wants to be part of a large congregation or have their church leader become famous with some type of celebrity status. This type of notoriety may be very impressive to the world, but God is not impressed. The problem is that while looking for these things, we tend to forget that these individuals are just people who have taken on a leadership role. Although they may have been called of God to do a specific work, they are still fleshly beings that can make mistakes and fall just like anyone else.
The church should always be about God and Him alone. There should never be a situation in a Christian's life where they put more emphasis on the status of a man and his notoriety, as opposed to his credibility and knowledge of God's Word. My argument is not to be confused with those who are doing the work and have great respect and integrity as indicated in 1 Timothy 5:17, 18 which indicates that Elder's who are doing the work of God should receive double honor for their efforts. My argument is for those who have chosen to live life in the fast lane without the regard of those individuals who have chosen to call them "leader."
There is nothing wrong with a large church or congregation; although you should never want to join a large church or congregation just to say you have status. Many people get upset after they join these large assemblies because they seldom get to talk with the pastor of those assemblies. Keep this in mind, you are attending church to not only fellowship with other Saints but to also hear and learn the Word of God.
I have learned that people usually do whatever they want to do, but when that person is a Christian leader who has fallen away from the true Word of God. It is possible that they may not truly have a heart or a mind to follow God or His Word any longer. As a Christian, we have to follow the Bible for ourselves. We have to know it, study it and understand it. A person must also keep their mind on the Word of God so that they will understand all things concerning the Kingdom.
One such church watched their walls come tumbling down when the Pastor and his wife decided to divorce. This announcement not only hurt the membership, but it also exposed the church and the couple's exorbitant finances to the world. Critic's said their message of prosperity was at the expense of humility and family values. "Too many ministries have become big business. That message is desecrating the church today," said one church board member, adding that he was disturbed to learn that the church was millions of dollars in debt. He said, "That's just not right." Many share the thoughts of this parishioner.
The couple was noted for preaching a so-called prosperity message; this type of message has led many astray and has also angered many who decided to base their faith on just this one principle as opposed to the entire Word of God. There are a couple of questions that continually come up when this type of situation arises in the church community. People ask why church leaders need so much money, and why do they have to live such a grandiose lifestyle. The answer should be a simple one, and that is to say that every successful businessperson should reap the benefits of a successful business, in this case we are talking Kingdom building or should I say God's business. This would be the simple answer, but for those on the outside looking in, this answer simply will not work. In the eyes of John Q. Public, the leader of a church should be humble and living an average lifestyle. The public will even go as far as letting you go beyond an average lifestyle if they feel you are giving more than you are receiving.
Why does society believe its wrong for Christians to have wealth? Maybe it's because those with wealth who claim to be Christians are not using their wealth to help the Kingdom. Many view Christians with wealth in a negative way. When they see a church leader dressed nice or driving an expensive vehicle, they automatically assume that person has taken advantage of its membership. The unfortunate reality is that this is sometimes the case and for that reason the unknowing public will disagree with the views of the church.
Personally, I have no problem with a church leader having wealth, but I believe he has to do more than just pastor a church. I know of many church leaders who not only pastor a church of thousands, but they also embark on other careers such as authoring books, conducting seminars, recording music and some even invest in the stock market. All I'm trying to say is that if I have to work to support the Kingdom, they should too. As a parishioner, I will not allow a church leader to have an elaborate lifestyle at my expense. A good example would be a church funding a "parsonage" for their pastor. I have always considered a parsonage to be a small room or an apartment connected to the church enabling the church leader to get some rest after spending many long hours at the church, praying, teaching or maybe counseling. A parsonage should not constitute a mini-mansion on the outskirts of town. Although some church assemblies have decided that it is the blessing of the Lord to provide a palatial residence for their church leader. I don't know about you, but if this is the case at your assembly, it may be time to move on.
MSN reports that a private company devised the couple's compensation package, saying, "The couple had taken an annual salary as high as $1.5 million collectively but were approved to take up to $3 million collectively." The Pastor and his wife's multimillion-dollar ministry also included a private jet. The Pastor has said much of their wealth comes from more than 23 successful business ventures, including real estate and his role as a pitchman for a pharmaceutical company. (MSN.com) A lot of people talk about how Christians should be humble (especially traditional Christians). I have heard it said that to be humble is to be poor. Being poor will indeed humble you simply because you have no other choice at that time. But to say that someone should be poor is ridiculous.
Someone once told me that I put too much focus on success and wealth. This person was poor and was forced to be humble, and as a result, they resented the fact that others were prospering and building a future. This same person who bashed and ridiculed others came into a little cash, and before I knew it, the conversation quickly changed. They wanted flat screens televisions throughout their house, and they were looking into purchasing a more expensive means of transportation. They even insisted on having a more designer-styled wardrobe. The list goes on and on. The humbleness that this person once had was now completely gone.
Wealth is not a sin; lusting for wealth on the other hand is a sin. God has given us all of the resources to become successful and effective Christians. There is a need for wealth in the Kingdom and there is a need for those who have proven to be good stewards to have wealth. Those who have should be willing to help those who do not, and those who get should be willing to give.
A common concept that has been associated with mankind is to help our fellow man. This concept suggests that when you have been blessed, you are to reach back and give others a hand up. This is a great lesson and wonderful principle as it relates to the area of helps (if followed), but many times, those who teach it never follow it. Imagine the magnitude of success that could be established if those who have achieved success would be willing to reach back and give to those who are striving towards success. Notice I said, "Striving." A person has to be in a position to receive a blessing that is being passed on. For example, take time to read the story of how Elijah's Spirit is transferred to Elisha. (2 Kings 2:1-15)
By using the principles we find in Scripture, Christians can determine their course for any given situation. While God's Word does not cover each and every situation we will face in our lives, it is sufficient for living a Christian life.