Mike Andrus once wrote at the First Free blog on the reasons why you should not give to a church. There are many parts that I agree with Mike Andrus. However, there is one aspect that he could also have done. Mike Andrus and First Free Wichita can make pastoral salary information available to the community. When members and attenders of First Free can know the salary of Josh Black, Dick High and others then giving to First Free would be okay.
“Transparency may be the most disruptive and far-reaching innovation to come out of social media.”
“Lack of clarity is always a sign of dishonesty.”
“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. 17 For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.
Luke 8:16 NLT
First Free sanctuary
This blog writes about First Evangelical Free in Wichita, Kansas. I have been writing about them for well over a year. The last time I wrote about First Free Wichita was when I discussed how it was theologically hijacked. It has to deal with how Josh Black came to power. The EFCA denomination strongly believes in a principle called the “Significance of Silence.” Yet its a principle that is being abused by the Neo-Calvinists as they hijack and flip churches. Josh Black who was trained by 9 Marks violated the principle when he allegedly fired Dan Curnutt. Dan was not Neo-Calvinist and Josh who is into 9 Marks by Mark Dever had allegedly fired Dan for his theology. You can read about that in detail in, “Inside the EFCA are Neo-Calvinists Violating the “Significance of Silence” to Hijack Churches?.”
Today I want to do some commentary on Mike Andrus’ teaching. On the First Free Blog in 2014 Mike wrote about the reasons why you should not give to a church. You can read that original post in, “Straight Talk on When Not to Give. ” What I am going to do is go through and critique Mike Andrus’ teaching. There is a lot to say in the post and my comments will be in red. Let’s proceed in looking at Mike’s thoughts.
Giving is not always godly. It is not always generous or selfless. Sometimes it can be manipulative, hypocritical, even greedy. The Bible is not unequivocally positive in its attitude toward giving. As a matter of fact, it often warns us about the dangers of giving if we fail to do it God’s way.
Giving is not always Godly. A great example of that is C.J. Mahaney who practiced what I consider to be “Gospel Centered” bribery. Here in the Washington, D.C. area people in Sovereign Grace were asked to give until it hurts. Many gave so much that families were eating oatmeal for dinner. Giving for the “Lord’s Kingdom” you say? No..because with C.J. people from Sovereign Grace supported Mahaney and his family on vacation to the Magic Kingdom of Florida. Also while people were asked to give, Mahaney I would state “bribed” other individuals in how he threw around money. For example he gave money to Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist which you can read about here. He also gave money to Wayne Grudem. Is this why many Neo-Calvinists are blindly supporting C.J. Mahaney even after the child sex abuse scandal came forward in SGM. So giving is not always good. If there are still C.J. Mahaney books in First Free’s library hopefully this will be the incentive to get rid of them.
My goal in this series of articles is to help Christian people become financially faithful in order to enhance their spiritual, emotional, and family health and to serve Christ more freely. We first looked at three foundational principles: ownership, authority, and dependence. Then we considered the fact that many Christians want to give more but are hindered from doing so because of spending habits and debt. In this article I want to discuss how giving, even though it may appear to be generous, can miss or even violate biblical standards.
Nothing to disagree with in this section.
It’s wrong to give in order to receive recognition. This goes against our grain, doesn’t it? We want to be recognized for our giving. We desire a reputation for generosity. Every major charity knows that the more recognition they give to donors, the larger their contributions will be. That’s why so many buildings bear the name of their donors and why plaques are found everywhere in charitable facilities. It works, but that doesn’t necessarily make it right.
Jesus said, “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.” (Matt. 6:1-2)
Seeking recognition for our giving can easily become a corrupting influence, for if human recognition is our motive we will be tempted to give where we get the most of it. Seeking recognition also unintentionally corrupts the recipient, for it tempts him to heap praise on the donor in order to generate even more giving.
This actually is a major problem in evangelicalism. People give money and can do so in a boastful fashion. In some churches people who give money are exempt from policies such as church discipline or other topics. In the Willow Creek scandal (which is not EFCA by the way) Willow Creek actually checked who tithed and what they gave before they decided to drive them from the church in acts of shunning and discipline.
It’s wrong to give in order to receive material rewards. One of the most popular heresies of our day is prosperity theology. It is the viewpoint that God wants all of his children healthy and wealthy and if we’re not, it’s because we are not naming and claiming our inheritance. A common corollary is that the more we give (especially to the advocate’s own ministry), the more we will get back in material rewards. The problems with this theology are many. Let me point out just two.
First, prosperity theology contradicts the experience of Jesus and the Apostles. In Matthew 8:20 Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’“ Had Jesus forgotten to claim his inheritance? And how about Paul? How much material prosperity did his remarkable faith bring him? (2 Cor. 11:21b-28)
Second, prosperity theology also contradicts the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles. In the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 Jesus indicates that wealth is not only not an inevitable sign of godliness; it can actually be a great hindrance to godliness. And in Hebrews 10:32ff those faithful believers who suffered persecution and poverty are urged to persevere: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” But the context makes it clear that the rewards are not measured in dollars, nor are they promised in this life.
In this situation I agree with what Mike Andrus says about prosperity theology. But there is another point of contention that I would also add. Some people believe that God is blessing them if they automatically obey him. Life is difficult, complicated and hard. There are times when a person of the church goes through great suffering when he did all the right things theologically. And then there are times when atheists and those outside the faith do well. People often like to look the other way in these circumstances but such is life.
It’s wrong to give in response to pressure. Paul speaks to this issue in 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” The essential message here is that giving should be planned and voluntary, not a result of overt pressure.
Friends, there is a calculating science behind charitable fundraising. The experts recommend that an appeal letter should contain a few choice phrases like “we’re in a crisis this week” or “God didn’t bring us this far to close the door, did he?” They can gauge what the increase will be if the recipient’s name is inserted in the middle of the computer-generated letter or if a first-class stamp is used instead of bulk mail. If it looks like a telegram more people will open it, and if it appears that there’s a check inside even more will open it.
A wise Christian will resist such Madison Avenue manipulation and will plan his giving in advance. He will pray about it, discuss it with his family, and seek godly counsel. It’s probably good to set aside a certain amount to meet genuine emergencies, but the bulk of our giving should be planned in advance.
In this section I again agree with. People should not give money because they are forced to or pressured. That is also wrong and awful in this writers opinion. Now here is the question I would like to ask Mike Andrus…if individuals like James MacDonald or Mark Driscoll or other pastors have given money in such a questionable manner how should they be viewed? Will someone like Mike Andrus call out another pastor if that is being learned? Will Mike Andrus stand before the First Free congregation and say, “The other day I heard that C.J. Mahaney forced people to give in Sovereign Grace in toxic and questionable ways. We reject that at First Free Wichita and as such we will not use his material.” Can Mike Andrus do such a thing? From my perspective that will be the real test of is Mike Andrus being fair and honest in his teaching.
I don’t know who originated the following observation: “Giving is not God’s way of raising money. It’s his way of rearing children.” But I agree. As we learn to give in a godly way, we grow in grace and maturity. We become more like Christ who gave the greatest gift of all—his own life—not for recognition nor for material reward nor because of pressure—but freely, sacrificially, and for the glory of his heavenly Father. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
In my final article next month I want to lay out what I believe are the most important positive guidelines for biblical giving.
Just to give First Free advanced notice I plan to write commentary on those other articles that are a part of this series.
The Most Important Reason to Not Give to First Free Wichita
In this teaching post by Mike Andrus there is one thing that bothered me that I have to write about in this section. If Mike Andrus really wanted to show that First Free is committed to transparency as a church there is one thing that he could have done. And if First Free is not transparent in what I am about to discuss then I honestly hope that the congregation withholds their tithes and not give to this church. Members and attenders of the First Free congregation should be able to know what their pastoral staff salaries are. From Josh Black, to Dick High to Lucas McGarity to Mike Andrus and more. People should be able to know what the pastoral salaries are especially if they are giving money. It actually goes beyond that to be honest. But stop and consider the following. In the state of Kansas they release the salary information of state employees and that is easily accessible. From the Department of Transportation, to employees of Kansas State University in Manhattan to the Kansas State Historical society to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. You can poke around here and see that information. Law enforcement salary for Kansas Highway Patrol is available here. One can also see the pay scales of members of the military. From commissioned officers to warrant officers that information is accessible and releasable. The same holds true for federal employees. If you want to know what an employee of the Census Bureau or the FDA you can do so right here at the OPM website.
So here is the question I would like to ask. If the secular world can be far ahead of the curve is First Free Wichita behind it? There are a number of churches that do not make salary information available. If Josh Black and many others honestly believe in the power of the Gospel and were transparent this information would be readily available and even published online. This is not be being difficult but this is the call for First Free to practice transparency. Mike Andrus really should have breached this topic in his post above. I hope this post gives the members and attenders of First Free Wichita something to contemplate. And I hope these are questions that are asked at the next congregational meeting. That is it for the day guys know that you are loved!