Am I Materialistic? Part II - Churches and Ministries

There were comments from my Part I writing on materialism that made me feel Part 1 was incomplete.

Am I Materialistic? Part II - Churches and Ministries

There were comments from my Part I writing on materialism that made me feel Part 1 was incomplete. What about the Pastor or the ministry leader who drives the expensive cars or lives in the big houses? I find that this really rubs people the wrong way. There is almost this expectation for ministry leaders and Pastors to live as modest of a life as possible. Well what the Bible says about about poverty, being rich, abundance, etc. in my opinion is completely blown out of context. However, that is a writing for another time.

Once again, back to my point in Part I, what you do with His money is between the individual and God. It is not our place to judge. Of course, it is never our place to judge. It is about whether we pass the two part litmus test. Part 1, are we attached? Could we give everything up tomorrow? Part 2, does materialism interfere with the ability and freedom to serve or give?

I would add a third litmus test specifically for those who are in ministry. First, it is my belief that compensation or salary of someone in ministry fits into the above litmus test. Second, beyond that, how ministry contributions are used is a totally different subject. Here is the question for the test - Are gifts, donations, contributions, etc. used for personal gain within the ministry or church? For example, is the 20 million dollar plane really necessary to travel for the ministry? Is the church funded personal trainer expense for the Pastor really good use of ministry money?

As a contributor to a ministry or church, you have to decide whether or not the church or ministry are being good stewards of what God has allowed them to have. You have to make sure you hold them accountable and that they are totally transparent in every dollar spent.. Is every dollar going towards the fulfillment of the ministry or church objective? That is an accountability that is important and must be upheld.

There is a distinction between what gifts and donations are being used for and what ministry leaders are doing with them beyond compensation. What about a Pastor or ministry leader making money on books sales, speaking appearances, TV deals, etc.? I think that goes back to the original personal litmus test. After all, that is beyond the original ministry and money that was made independently. One caveat, those two aspects of a ministers life must be kept separate. For instance, is it good use of donated money to pay the expenses of a pastor for a trip where he or she stands to gain independent money separate from the ministry? I say no. However, I am sure some will debate that point.

It is easy to get judgmental of our Pastors and Ministry leaders when it comes to material possessions. Remember judgment hurts the person passing judgment more than anyone else. It is something I constantly have to remind myself of every single day in all aspects of life.

This is a very difficult and sensitive area. Well said. Most people don't want to feel like those they give their money to, whether it be a tithe or taxes live better than they do. Yet, the pastor or government employee does deserve their wages. What is missing in the glaring examples is "balance". Ultimately it is up to the taxpayers and those tithing to decide what that balance is and if it God's will and not just the interest of those receiving.


@JosephC I completely agree with what you're saying. However, why do we simply say 'they deserve higher wages' than we do? Pastors and government officials were once voluntary positions in which they didn't receive a wage. The either had another job on the side, or they were taken care of by the community.... now churches and government officials are like any other businesses.

You are correct, right or wrong, that they are largely mirrors of the business environment now days. I don't think a living wage is unreasonable for any position. Most don't have a problem with the CEO of any organization making the highest salary in the organization by rising to the top in their profession or expertise. The problem, as with business, is when the CEO of any organization makes 300X or more than the lowest paid employee or parishioner. Again, we are way out of balance and the CEO's of these various organizations and their governing bodies have allowed it. The problem is rampant locally in our school districts, cities, and to some extent, churches.

@JosephC @SarahJones - Look at the big churches in and around Dallas - they have millions upon millions of dollars for their budgets. I was finance chair for one of them and I believe our budget was 13 or 14 million - in a sense Pastors are forced to run large revenue (giving) entities. For the most part their salaries and compensation packages are relative to the budget size. Keep in mind that business people are often in charge of setting those comp packages. Corporate America? That is a different problem with CEO pay.