My loyal readers may recall that nine months ago I wrote an article titled “Despite Tight Budgets UAE 9Marks Pastors Travel To T4G Conference USA.” (Link) Now, nine months later and facing a serious budget deficit, senior pastor John Folmar had the nerve to ask members to give sacrificially!
In the article, I took the pastors of these cash-strapped churches to task for traveling to the United States to attend a conference where all their favorite idols were speaking, including CJ Mahaney, notorious for conspiring to cover up the sexual abuse of children in his Sovereign Grace denomination. In a bold display of entitlement, these arrogant pastors not only appropriated church funds for their travel, meals, lodging and conference fees but they also collected their salaries while on their week-long boondoggle! That’s right – they didn’t even have to use vacation days while away!
To be fair, can one put a price tag on the opportunity to sit under the superb teaching of men like Mahaney, Mohler, Dever and Duncan? UAE church leaders undoubtedly returned with their knowledge base expanded, ready to take church discipline to new heights.
Did I mention the entire event was live-streamed for free? That’s right, I tuned in to listen to Mahaney’s hour-long speech from the comfort of my study in Dubai. I was amazed to learn how Mahaney’s life of suffering mirrored that of Job! As an added bonus I was able to hear Al Mohler make jokes about Mahaney’s internet critics in his introduction of the suffering man.
In the corporate world, stockholders would demand this group of men be fired for malfeasance, but since they are the leaders of “elder-ruled” churches no member, properly submitted to their authority, dares question their actions.
Perhaps church members are demonstrating their disapproval in other ways – such as withholding their money from the church. Allow me to offer a gentle warning to members who do this – be careful lest you find yourself excommunicated! Remember that Membership Covenant you signed and solemnly recite every month prior to participating in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper? Let me draw your attention to one paragraph:
“We will contribute cheerfully, generously and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.”
-United Christian Church of Dubai Church Covenant
Redeemer Church of Dubai Church Covenant
Ras Al Khaimah Evangelical Church Covenant
In my article from nine months ago I said:
True to form, these guys didn’t really surprise me. UCCD Senior Pastor John Folmar, facing a budget shortfall worse than last year, made an appeal to the giving units for sacrificial giving. This, Folmar claimed, is what the King wants. He recited the well worn “sowing and reaping” principle, scorned by 9Marxists when utilized by prosperity preachers, but perfectly appropriate when correctly exegeted by a 9Marx pastor! Folmar reminded the faithful that on the Last Day, they should “want all the rewards we can possibly handle.”
Left unsaid perhaps, is the fact that the next T4G conference is only thirteen months away – will the UCCD bank account be sufficiently replenished to finance another all-expense paid trip for the privileged few to the USA, or will that be one of the “drastic cuts” that will be needed?
“Every organization should be good stewards with the resources they have but the church needs to be held to an even higher standard since the resources they are given are from the sacrifice of their members. This is God’s money and we need to never lose sight of that fact.”
– Patricia Lotich, “5 Keys to Responsible Church Stewardship,” Smart Church Management blog.
“I want to argue that it is right to fire Christians who are staff members of churches based on this idea of stewardship. It is right to fire Christian employees who are poor stewards. A local church has been given many talents: time, money, buildings (in some cases), members, and opportunities to be faithful witnesses in the community in which they are situated. Stewardship calls the local church to seize these talents, manage them well, and bear fruit for the spread of the gospel, the strengthening of the local church, and ultimately the glory of God.
Let’s remember that members of our churches are voluntarily giving their money for the spread of the gospel. As stewards themselves, donors faithfully give so that more people may be won to and grown up in Christ. That transaction—a donor giving his money to a church—has the implied understanding that money won’t be wasted or misdirected, but that it will be stewarded well for the purposes for which it was given. The donor is implicitly saying, “I want to take the money God has given me to steward and set it aside, together with my fellow church members, to support the time of this particular Christian so that he can give more of his time and gifts to the spread of the gospel.” An unfaithful employee of the church undermines the trust which underlies a Christian’s giving.”
-Matt Schmucker, “You Have An Obligation to Fire Incompetent Staff,” 9Marks blog.