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The picture says 1,000 words and provokes hundreds of thoughts into my mind. Sadly there’s a limited amount of reality displayed by the media. I could turn my television station to a Christian-related program right now and almost automatically assume that it will consist of a lot of singing, extended sermons, a few jokes here and there, oh and of course, we cannot forget those church members who spontaneously catch the Holy Ghost just when the camera hits them.

I think that pastors are one of the reasons that this sort of thing happens. By that I mean that they lead the church. They make the final decisions on the sizes of the church and so on. While their intentions may be good when they decide to erect a large church to fit more church members, to heal more people and to lead the saved, it sometimes feels like that isn’t the case. When pastors are able to succeed in ministry and further earn more money from tithes and offerings, it seems only right that they should give like the congregation does for them. Sadly, some don’t. I guess they skipped over:  “If you have two coats, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”

If it isn’t insulting enough, magazines and reality television shows meet with the more popular pastors to get a different perspective of their lifestyles. Whether or not it’s intentional, it all seems like boasting. The MTV Cribs-like specials meet with pastors to show off their wealth, their materialism (cars, homes, and other worldly possessions), while they talk about their roles as parents, husbands, and friends. The ones that I’ve seen live pretty well, and most of the time some media company is bold enough to exploit them, but you can be sure that they truly believe that they do the Lord’s work and then are awarded greatly.

A good example of what I am referring to is a broadcast that I saw on MTV’s Sweet Sixteen. For all of you who have no idea what this television program is, it’s a reality show that highlights the lives of spoiled teenagers who are planning and preparing for their extravagant birthday parties. These parties usually also include celebrity music performances and the teenagers are usually gifted expensive automobiles just in time for them to receive their driver’s licenses.

Chanae, who just so happens to be the daughter of a very popular pastor, Reverend R.A. Vernon of Ohio was on the show in 2007/2008. The show gave viewers of a glimpse of their lavish lifestyle at the beginning with footage of Reverend Vernon’s airplane and helicopter. Yes, he owns an airplane and a helicopter. The episode recieved a lot of negative feedback when it aired because Chenae was a spoiled brat who got to indulge in the finer things at the expense of the church’s congregation. Many said that the family should have invested the money into helping others. It’s understandable, and I agree but still there are other people (including members of his church) who have come to his defense to say that he should be able to spend any amount of money that he’d like because he was a good reverend and helps others.

As ridiculous as it all may sound, can pastors be too wealthy?

When I think of the status quo of the United States or the world altogether, there is really no reason that anyone should live in poverty or starve if people did not live beyond their means. It’s greed. People choose comfort over goodwill. Personally, I believe that people should be able to spend their money however they want to,, but when you claim to be Christian or let alone a pastor of a church you will be subject to scrutiny and ridicule for anything over basic needs. If they appear to be living even slightly better than most, they will be judged.

Whether they care about the public scorn or not is beyond me, but I hope that these pastors understand that their actions may be the reason why people stray away from church. They’re just looking or an excuse or scapegoat not to attend. As a pastor, people expect that individual to be so in love with your job and God, that you would still do the job without a salary (hey, I know a young minister who works faithfully and makes time for God), because it’s NOT about the money. We know that pastors need money to support their families but how can you collect massive amounts of money, indulge in the finer thing in life while keeping a close relationship with God. It may be possible, but I just can’t understand how all of that mixture would work.

I also know that some pastors may not use the money from tithes, and may collect revenue elsewhere through printed publications, preaching at weddings and funerals, public and fellowship appearances, etc. I guess that is rightfully their money to claim and do as they please.

No matter how money is being collected to fund these spending habits I still think that it calls for the whole “religion industry” to be renamed “Church, Inc.” because it is all one big lucrative business at the expense of their faithful believers. It’s sad to think about the people who give all of what they have left to fund “the big guys’ lavish lifestyles, and in the name of God. But why else would they have ATMs and credit card processing in a house of God? It not only makes it convenient to pay your tithes but it makes it serves as a reminder for you to do it and for the church to collect their money without excuses.

As faithful as church members are with giving to the Lord, I have yet to see it go the other way. I’m sure reverends give to others but would they are spread themselves think like God says; to allow someone, a homeless person, a church member stay in their mansion? After all, they did help them to buy it.  Would they even offer to pay for a hotel room for the night?

This isn’t a post to bash famous pastors, but it’s a wake up call to the people who follow them. Whether they give great sermons or not, you must understand that when church become about things other than God, or they’re not practicing what they preach then it’s drifting you away from God. You don’t owe these money hungry churches anything. You owe GOD. You don’t need to go to a church that all of the local celebrities go to, that is broadcasted on television, or gets to participate in field trips and choir competitions. I don’t care. These factors don’t bring you closer to God, just because you show up. He’s not even getting your undivided attention.

This is subject is one of the contributing factors to the negative views on the Christian churches.