Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is The Black Church Really To Blame?

After last week’s post on financial scams ruining the Black community, I received an overwhelming amount of response. Between the several websites which adopted the post or created their own conversations around it, I read well over 100 comments presumably from other Black people reminding me of scams I left out. People proclaimed I should add everything from the foolishness of financed rims to Rent-A-Center schemes, but nothing surprised me more than over 40% of posters assuring me that I had missed what apparently many believe to be the biggest financial scam of them all: The Black Church.

Anonymous wrote:
I'm glad some people already added church to this list. They demand that you give 10% of your gross income, plus expect money in the collection plate at every service for general and love offering, plus expect you to support every fundraiser . . . let's not forget the "roof or building" fundraisers that never result in a repaired roof or improved building.

On the flip side, Anonymous, who is really forcing Black people to do all that? When I wrote 5 Reasons Black Women Can’t Save Money, one of my points was that we can’t say “No.” Many will give to the point of self-deprivation and for some reason take the stance that this is the noble thing to do (the comments prove it). But, for the life of me I can’t understand why of all the verses in the Bible that relate to money and wealth, people want to glorify the parts about being poor. How can you truly be this giver you are called to be if you're riddled with debt and barely making it yourself?  I’m not saying that everyone’s destiny is to be Bill Gates rich, but if you believe in the Bible shouldn’t your aim be to leave an inheritance for your children’s children? How can you do that when you won’t plan well enough to take care of yourself in the present, much less the future? Leaving the present economy out of the picture, understand that being broke is a state of temporary circumstance; being poor is a state of mind!

After watching Soledad Obrien’s, Black In America: Almighty Debt last year, I wrote that people “use the church as an excuse to be stupid.” Harsh? Yes. But, unfortunately very true. I get tired of hearing people who live beyond their means say, "I tithe, so God will provide." Tithing is not an excuse for poor money management. Don't pick and choose the parts of the Bible you like for convenience. There are hundreds, if not thousands of verses which relate to money and none of them involve tithing being a valid rationale for over spending, under saving and not educating yourself on financial matters.

Related Post: Black In America: Are You Delusional Too?

Other commenters said that there is too much information available out there for people to keep falling prey to the same financial pitfalls and then blaming everyone else. Wouldn’t that be the same with the church then? I live in Atlanta where the news is peppered each night with the latest Bishop Eddie Long scandal. For the last few weeks, the phenomena has been how Ephren Taylor, apparently a fast talking swindler, came in and robbed church members of nearly $1 million after a “guaranteed” investment went sour. According to, “Parishioners invested substantial sums of money, with some investments ranging from $10,000 to over $200,000, representing their lifetime savings. . . Long allegedly told his congregation that everything Taylor said was based "on the word of God." Trusting churchgoers thought that their investments would be sound, based on their pastor's endorsement.”

No matter what Long “endorsed,” there is no way for any investment advisor, specialist or whoever to guarantee people positive returns, much less 100% positive returns. No one should invest their entire life savings in anything if they A) don’t understand it and B) can’t afford to lose it - period. But again, then we’d have to take the responsibility of due diligence off of God and Pastor So n’ So and put it on ourselves and who wants to do that, right? It would be easier to take Pastor’s word and invest in sweepstakes video game machines which ultimately were connected to an illegal gambling ring, then have a healthy level of skepticism and find a financial advisor in the community with a proven track record and maybe even an office that can be popped into when questions arise.

Related Post: How To Set Financial Goals You Can Achieve

As I always say, the decisions we make still come back to our mindset.

At the end of the day . . . . .

Results are based on actions.
Actions are based on thoughts.
Thoughts are based on beliefs.
Beliefs are based on information or indoctrination.
And, well for many of us, that somehow only goes back to the church.

So, here is this week’s question, Is the Black Church Really To Blame? Should we add the Black church to the growing list of financial scams in our community right along with rentable spinning rims and title pawn loans OR should individuals stop using the church as an excuse and take personal responsibility for their personal finances?

Until Next Time,

Seek Wisdom, Find Wealth & Be Blessed


Drew-Shane said...

I find the Black church is very easy to blame. The church is a business just like any other institution. They need money too.

I think personal investment starts with personal. You have to find a reason to want to save. I've seen the effects of not saving and let's say, I save! Now.

cecil said...

some churches are businesses but majority are ministry. no matter what churches have bills like any other building. average buildings overhead, electric,gas,rent,phone. then you have sound system, musicians, a/v, all that cost. if the pastor is good then the church grows which means a bigger building, and more people means more time the pastor have to spend trying to take care of people. now he can't afford to work because ministry has become full time job now he to be paid. 10% is Biblically based and is supposed to be for the priest. the offering help take care of the church bill. now at my church. only the musician get paid. everything else goes to bills. most of the time we are behind on bills because not enough money. i get they could ask when they fall behind but they don't, they just hope god provides and he ALWAYS DOES.

Anonymous said...

Those people who are blaming the church haven't picked up their Bible lately. Tithing is Biblical. Giving sacrificial offering is Biblical. Living beyond your means is not Biblical. For example: If you waste and yes I said WASTE, your money on expensive clothes, shoes, and partying, and eating out ALL THE TIME and don't pay your tithes you have issues. Or if you pay your tithes and waste money on the above stuff and think God is gonna replace the money you already wasted because you paid your tithe (this month), you too have serious issues. God will always provide you with enough money for the things you NEED and more, but if YOU waste it on STUFF, that's a personal issue. Its not the churches fault, that black people mismanage their money on frivolous stuff. Before you accuse the Black Church of anything you need to hold people accountable for their own finances and financial education.

Gabriel said...

The sole purpose of a business, ie a corporation, is to 1)reap profit and 2) increase the wealth of it's shareholders and investors. Now i HOPE that's not the purpose of the church (even though in lots of instances it is exactly that). If a church has to worry about not enough money coming in to pay bills, have ministries, etc, then don't you think it's wise to train your financially struggling flock to learn about finance, debt resolution, saving, investing, maximizing your income potential etc etc???. That way there would be greater resources available to sow into the ministry. But you preach to the people on Sunday, then send them out into the world to struggle all week. Then tell them to "hang on cause GOD is gonna make a way". Really? Is that way not through education, training and hard work? Whats wrong with preaching to the flock about those things?? It would be really great if the church became a little less "religious" and a lot more practical.

Jamar said...

Hi, I don't believe the church is the blame. Jesus said upon this Rock I shall build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against. The creation of the church is Godly. The people who sometimes enter the church make it what it is seen to world. I agree that some leaders have become lover's of money, for the "love of money is the root of all evil", many parishoners have too as well. It's time people to repent, and start getting invovled in thier salvation and making it to the Kingdom. Jesus told use not to store up treasures on earth, but to store them in heaven. Many people are being decieved by this notion of prosperity and earthly tresures and it's blasphemy. We must live HOLY lives, God said Be ye holy as I am holy, and not to serve two masters. Black people are a blessed people, we just need to look through the glass and see it. Stop being decieved "Americans" by every new scheme or doctrine to get prosperity. Luke- Ask and it shall be given unto you, knock and the door shall be opened unto you, seek and ye shall find. We need to continually seek the Lord everyday, through him all things are possible. The church universally has given up on this, also read titus 3:10, romans 16:17, 2 John 1:10. Keep reading the bible the church is in a state of weakness. Christians Disples - Born again believers must be strong and persevere. Let's not blame others for our course of action, we are responsible "individual", we need to listen to "Holy Spirit", you know that voice that speaks to you." Why give to something if you know its false? Its like a pyramid system scheme, you know you can't make it to the top so why invest your money. Give your soul to the LORD and stop investing man. Psalms 62:9 and 118:8 HE'll let you know.Matthew 7:16 I like this. Peace.

Laura J said...

Wow!!! Right on. I soooo agree. The bible clearly tells us to owe no man anything but love. Debt is poor stewardship. So on the outside when people see us tithe and offer and they see us broke busted and disgusted they look at the church in a negative light. We really must get it together there.

Great post! So relevant.

Fanya said...

I am a born again, baptized in water and fire, tongue speaking, hallelujah shouting, praising the Lord, Pentecostal believer. Although I love the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind, I sometimes wonder about the behavior of some of my fellow believers and those that lead them. Here are a few of the things that concern me:
1. Pimping Pastors. I believe that EVERY Pastor has to be a con man to some degree. They are dealing with people of various backgrounds, personalities, education and economic status. They learn early who to play and who to stay away from. Upon discovering the parishioner’s weakness, those that can be played are preyed upon (in the Name of the Lord) to achieve the pastor’s intended goal (whatever it may be at the time.) One of the biggest pimping tools is offering. Depending upon what church you attend, there may be one to five collections. Black churches are really good at this. (1) Benevolent (sick & shut-in); (2) General; (3) Pastor’s; (4) Speaker’s (Guest); (5) Special Project (Roof, Heater, Air Conditioner, Pastor’s Anniversary, Founder’s Day, Vacation, etc…) There is ALWAYS a need. All too often, there is a continuous appeal from the collectors to get more money from the congregation. It works! You will see dollar bills raised in the air and collectors running toward the donor to get the money. This is a general pattern in most of the Black churches regardless of size. The smaller the church, however, the worse it is.

All buildings and businesses NEED operation funds and working capital. Rent, mortgages and utilities go on continuously and must be paid. Does the church have a budget that is shared with the congregation so parishioners know what is expected of them to maintain the church upkeep? When this is done, members can therefore budget themselves to tithe and contribute in accordance with their own financial responsibilities.

What I have observed is pastors producing parasitic parishioners.

Tithing is a command from God. You cannot ignore His teachings in Malachi 3:10. In too many Black churches, this verse is drummed into EVERYTHING else, so the member is urged to give more and more and more. The promise is that the more they give to the pastor or church, God will meet their needs in many other ways. Often, the parishioner will forsake his necessities, and give all he/she has to the church. Then that same member becomes a parasite, feeding off the generosity of others. I remember the first time I heard the phrase, “I am going to let you bless me. I need gas in my car so I can get to work this week.” What?? When I was new in the Pentecostal movement, I dutifully helped everyone I could. After a while, I became the #1 “patsy.” A lot of people “let” me “bless them” in the Name of the Lord. I did not realize how badly I was affected, until I moved to another state and joined a white congregation. At that church, there was biblical emphasis on tithing, sharing of the church budget, and reports issued each quarter. There were two offerings – benevolent and general. No pumping of the people for more money. Members did not mooch off others to meet their own needs and obligations. The church prospered and grew. Needless to say, so did I.

Now that I have returned to Philadelphia, the “parasite parishioner” has returned in many forms and ways. It is a constant struggle to keep from being “used” in the Name of the Lord. I sometimes wonder, if I refuse to partake of this practice, will God punish me for not being a blessing to one of His children or will He reward me for not being a “patsy.”

kyndl said...

Has the black church become a religous vile dirty WHORE that has defiled itself with power,sex and money.Think about it. It's time we get back to Christ's Church the way it was intended to be.PURE!!!!