From the popularity of the Prosperity Gospel to the membership of the President’s Evangelical Counsel, from the way that sermon topics are chosen to the way that not so subtle messages about money are communicated to the people sitting in the pews every week, messages about money are pervasive in our Western culture and more and more people are realizing that the church in the West has an unhealthy relationship with money. We have been taught profit driven doctrine.
The last two days on Twitter, during the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey pummeling Houston and the surrounding area, Joel Osteen has come under fire for refusing to open his mega church for people who need refuge from the storm. While many can’t imagine a better opportunity to give feet to faith and live out the love Christians claim to have, and while Mosques and atheists are opening their gathering places throughout the area, Osteen relied first on a story about flooding making it impossible for anyone to get to the facility and then, once the truth about the condition of the building was exposed, he announced the building would be opened. Thankfully he has begun welcoming people into his church. This is the official statement they have made in response to the criticism.
Some of the Tweets about this:
— Beth ❤️#Resistance (@ladydragyn) August 29, 2017
One of these guys is helping.
— Hoss Rindman ⚾🏀📈 (@HossRindman) August 29, 2017
— TJ (@That_Guy933) August 29, 2017
— The Mary Sue (@TheMarySue) August 30, 2017
One of the most offensive things about the Osteen situation is the millions of dollars that Osteen and his family have profited personally from their “ministry” that is steeped in Prosperity Gospel beliefs and when their community was in very real need they didn’t offer safe haven, or financial assistance, but prayers. Yes, prayer is powerful. Another thing that is powerful is tangible help when people around you are in need. If we are the Body of Christ it might be good if the body got up and did some help for people! Osteen and his family have profited personally from their “ministry” that is steeped in Prosperity Gospel beliefs. The public image is already that money flows in but nothing flows out and Osteen’s handling of this situation has not done anything to challenge that belief.
Honestly my goal here isn’t to make Osteen look bad. He no doubt has PR people who will handle this situation and he’ll survive just fine. I’ve never met the man and other than posting my own encouragement to him to open the doors of his church on Twitter, figuring some positive peer pressure can’t hurt, I’ve had no personal interaction with the man.
The doctrines about it, the way people are treated, the way the poor are victimized by those who claim to be bringing them the good news…this is what I want to start addressing in a series of posts looking at this from various angles.
My concern is with how the church handles issues of money. My concern is that we have handled this issue so incredibly poorly that we are distorting the Gospel! The doctrines about it, the way people are treated, the way the poor are victimized by those who claim to be bringing them the good news…this is what I want to start addressing in a series of posts looking at this from various angles.
To do this I invite guest writers who would like to tackle some aspect of this topic and I welcome personal stories anyone might want to share about how this has impacted them. I will be sharing stories that have been shared with me, with permission, and I will be sharing my own personal stories from my times dealing with financial challenges as well as my experience with this issue from the role of pastor. My experience has definitely shaped my position on these things.
I’ve been wanting to do this series on how the church handles money for some time. Because of the relevance of the Osteen/Lakewood Church/Hurricane Harvey topic I though this would be a good time to start the discussion.
So let’s talk!