One service the subject came up and Jane Whaley shared how much she gets paid a month. She said she gets a check for $600 a month. From that $600, she gives Sam $200. Sam volunteered at that point that he “squirrels away” his $200 for a future time. Sam is also a licensed used car dealer. He buys cars for those in the congregation and makes “about $500 a car”. ( If you buy a car from somewhere else, you are paying too much! says Jane.)
The impression given was that the $600 a month was Jane’s total compensation. The problem with that is vast. Everyone in that service had been to her house on 40 + acres. We remember her saying that she and Sam had taken out mortgages every property possible including their home, to pay attorney bills. Everyone had heard about the shopping trips in NC and also to Atlanta for the dresses and jewelry she had to buy. Many there heard her say at another time, “If all my clothes were laid out, it would cover 2 city blocks!”. We knew she had a cell phone, television and a pool at her house. Just a quick look at her lifestyle would cause anyone to wonder how she makes it on $400 a month? So, is it reasonable to think that the “church” pays for her house, cars, cell phone, new clothes, trips out of town and other things. But, why would we not know for sure?
Last January, I attended a church in McDowell county. That Sunday, they were handing out the Annual Report from the previous year! This report outlined offerings received and expenditures made during 2008. It was a pleasant shock for me as a visitor to be given this report. Why? Because in my 10 years in Greenville and 6 years at WOFF, there was NEVER a report issued to the members as to the amount of offerings received and expenses paid. After attending seminars and services for a total of 16 years at WOFF, I had no idea how much was received and where it went. Did others know? Well, maybe a handful of folks, like the Board may have known. Someone said (I do not remember if Jane or Sam) in one service that the church needed $20,000 a week to meet the bills. That makes over one million dollars a year brought in, if the “budget” is met. Would it not be reasonable to openly account for a million dollars of revenue to the people who gave it?
Did the Greenville church or WOFF – EVER issue any written information to the members about where the money was spent? No, not that I ever remember. There were always pleas for more money. I have been in services where the offering plates were passed four times. Maybe one offering would be for tickets for Jane’s pending trip or some other “special need”. The other times the plates were passed, Sam or the lady in the office who “balanced Jane’s personal checkbook”, would say “pass them until we get it…” Many times, we would all have to wait until the offering was counted to see if we were dismissed or if the plates needed to be passed , AGAIN! That rang hollow when there was no open accounting. We were told many times that the CPA for the church “said we were more than above board in the use of the ministry money.” Really? He also was getting paid to perform a service. Why not let the folks know where their “tithes and offerings” were being spent?
In the beginning years, both pastors of each church, Greenville and WOFF; claimed to not know who tithed. However, by the end of my tenure, that changed. Jane would say she looked at the offering records and “knew who tithed and who did not”.. She then offered a disclaimer- “I know when you are tithing by seeing if it (the amount) is consistent. If it is not, then you are not tithing.” Wow, people on bonuses or commissions were in a tight place… they were certainly assumed as “non-tithers..” Of course, it was preached tax refunds were a blessing that you needed to give tithes and offerings from to the church.
Sam would get up to receive offerings and make it plain: “If you are not being blessed financially, you are not tithing.” A person’s faith was called into question if they were not “blessed financially”. At some services, people would get up to testify about “how God was blessing them financially”. There was almost always funds raising projects for one cause or another. Certain individuals would accept the task of keeping the find raising projects coming for the school of other needs, yard sales, car washes, bake sales, make-up sales, picture sales, fruit sales and more.
Here is a link to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. This is how churches who want to be open with finances report and disclose to their members… http://www.ecfa.org/Content/7Standards.aspx
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