Lavish lifestyles, multiple mansions, expensive high end cars, etc. the list goes on. Should a successful Pastor be associated with these types of things? A fox news article published over the weekend brought into question the finances and use of ministry dollars by one famous pastor. Kenneth Copeland, who is just one Pastor under scrutiny, had this to say about the purchase of his Gulfstream 4, his third leer jet.
Asked why he needs the private jets, Copeland responds: “If I flew commercial, I’d have to stop 65 percent of what I’m doing.”
When asked how much it cost he said, "It is none of your business." Well, Mr. Copeland, if the Inside Edition reporter was a contributor to your ministry, would it be her business assuming that you used ministry dollars?
There is a fine line that we walk when it comes to Pastors and the whole idea of a lavish lifestyle. Here are a few things to consider.
Who Paid for it? The Pastor or the Ministry?
Unfortunately, much of the time, it is the ministry that is shouldering the costs of a lavish lifestyle. Personally, I don't see how they get away with it. Regardless, there is a fine line drawn between a Pastor who uses ministry dollars and personal dollars to fund a lavish lifestyle. Most of these tele-evangelists earn millions of dollars outside of their ministry. Of course, it was because of their ministry that they received the fame to do so. We can all site that a pastor is held to a higher standard. Yet, if a lifestyle was funded by personal money, then that is their business.
Is the Pastor Open and Transparent about the Ministry's Finance?
Kenneth Copeland isn't the first Pastor to be defensive and combative when asked about his use of ministry finances. However, if everything is above board, why be defensive?
Wouldn't you welcome the opportunity to defend your decisions? Wouldn't you be more than willing to open the books and show the details? There are pastors who won't share the ministry's finances. In my opinion, that is wrong on so many levels. After all the, pastor is responsible to every person who contributed to that ministry to be a good steward.
Does the Ministry have a Good System of Checks and Balances?
Does Kenneth Copeland have a system of checks and balances set up that determine whether it is a good use of ministry dollars to buy that leer jet? A good system is overseen by a board of trustees (who can be held liable) and an extensive finance committee process that approves use of ministry dollars. Further, the Pastor should have no say so in the decision making of that nominated body of people. A wall of separation should exist.
Isn't how a Pastor spends money between the Pastor and God?
It is easy to sit in a place of judgment on how a Pastor spends their money outside of the ministry. Yet, at the end of the day, it is between the Pastor and God on how that money is spent. Yes, the Pastor has always be aware of optics because that comes along with the responsibility. There are decisions that can weaken their credibility. I don't think that it is anyone's business how the Pastor spends their personal money. In fact, I believe as long as the decisions were vetted by a thorough process, I don't even believe that a Pastor's salary should be disclosed.
HOWEVER, when it comes to ministry dollars, it comes down to those who contribute. Hold Pastors accountable. If a Pastor is non-transparent with the ministry's finances, STOP giving. In fact, it would be tough for me to even attend a church where the Pastor was non-transparent with the ministries finances. There is absolutely no good reason for doing so
It is very simple. If you are not doing something wrong, you would gladly have an open door policy and full transparency of the ministry's finances. It begs the question.......what are they hiding?