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"Don't Judge Me Because I Drive a BMW"

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  • "Don't Judge Me Because I Drive a BMW"

    What are your thoughts with regard to material lifestyle and the Christian life?

    If your pastor rolled up in a Mercedes S-class, would that cause you to question his spiritual integrity?

    If your pastor rolled up in a rusty 1988 Honda Accord on its last legs and asked you for money to fix the transmission, would you question his faith in God's provision?

    Where are you on the spectrum?

  • #2
    This is a very difficult question and one that is likely to cause people to get offended so I'm going to try to be very careful here.

    The bible is full of examples of people who are very wealthy and are used of God. Yet Jesus says that it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. So which is it? I think it's both.

    I think that if we are idolizing our wealth then it is a problem. That is going to be between a believer and his God. (however, sometimes, we can see this sin in someone else and may be called upon to confront it, but that should be between the would be confronter and God as well)

    I think that if a person is tithing and otherwise giving generously and willing to give above his tithe when led to do so, then having a nice car or home or whatever is not a problem. But I do sometimes wonder at people's willingness to spend on themselves while not contributing at all to the needs of others around the world.

    The Scriptures teach that the primary sin of Sodom was that they didn't care for the poor and needy, were overfed and haughty. (Ezekiel 16:49-50 Now this was the sin of Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen)

    And if my pastor was smart enough to own a workhorse like the Accord, no I wouldn't question his faith, those cars run forever! What's a new transmission ever 300,000 miles.

    Comment


    • #3
      Depends on the income distribution from the church. Our pastor could probably drive a BMW or Mercedes if he wanted because he and his wife are both in the medical field apart from his pastorship. He derives less than $1,000 a month as income from church. However if I saw a pastor that was milking the church dry in order to keep that lifestyle, I would have an issue with it.

      I have no problem with people driving nice vehicles if God so blesses them.

      Comment


      • #4
        JS_280, it's interesting that you say "income distribution." So basically, "wealth" is a relative term. Ursula, you seem to have a complex give-and-take metric going on. And don't hold back on me now after having shared so much on the other threads!

        So this gets me thinking, "relative to what?" Where's our standard of reference? Can I get away with more if I happen to situate myself in a wealthy community? Should I be unhappy and crying out to God to liberate me from the bondage of poverty if I make $30,000 in a city where people are making on average $100,000? On the flip side, should I feel guilty if I make $30,000 (and use 90% on myself) in an area where people are making $100 per month (approximate monthly wage for unskilled labor in China)?

        Here's an interesting statistic. If all the income in the world were averaged out, each person on the planet would make about $7,000. That's it. That's a huge downgrade for most Americans, but a huge upgrade for billions of people in the poorest countries.

        That makes me think, is my perception of "adequacy" completely skewed?
        Last edited by Sambekzx; 02-10-2011, 05:08 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Sambekzx View Post
          JS_280, it's interesting that you say "income distribution." So basically, "wealth" is a relative term. Ursula, you seem to have a complex give-and-take metric going on. And don't hold back on me now after having shared so much on the other threads!

          So this gets me thinking, "relative to what?" Where's our standard of reference?

          I think we may have a miscommunication on the "income distribution" concept. I was referring to what percentage the pastor's salary was in regards to the church's tithe income...not relative to the community or other members' income.

          I would have more of a problem with a pastor drawing $50K when the church's total yearly tithes were $100K than a pastor drawing $500K if the total yearly tithes were $50 Million. Please keep in mind that I have no scriptural basis for this.
          Last edited by JS_280; 02-10-2011, 09:32 PM.

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          • #6
            Man looks at the outward appearance, while God looks at the heart.

            Nate
            Practical Worship

            Please Pray For My Wife

            Comment


            • #7
              Sam, I just don't know what you mean

              I try to be careful here, ya know. I don't know someones' heart and maybe that Mercedes allows them to reach people I could never reach driving my 95'Camry Wagon.

              I will say, that I can see absolutely no good reason for any pastor to be paid 500K. That just seems irresponsible on the part of the pastor and the congregaton. A church's mission is to reach the world for Christ, not line the pastor's pockets.

              However, if the pastor makes 100K and wants a Mercedes but is less spendy in other areas, that is his choice. I think good stewardship is the real issue.
              Last edited by Ursula; 02-10-2011, 06:59 PM.

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              • #8
                The pastor at my former church was a businessman before becoming a pastor, and he comes from a fairly wealthy family. He owns a condo at the beach, a 70 acre farm, a boat and all the water toys. He buys used cars cheap from his father's car dealership. Currently there are a Hummer, Volvo convertible, Volvo sedan, GMC truck, and Jeep Wrangler (for his son) parked in their driveway. (He is my neighbor.)

                The church he pastors has a Sunday AM attendance of 125, the annual budget is just over $200,000, and his salary is under $50K.

                Do I think it is wrong for him to have all that. NO. Not at all. He is very generous and giving; his business background has enabled him to secure well over a quarter million dollars for the church to use to broaden its outreach.

                To answer the original question philosophically, God chooses to bless some more than others, but he requires of us all to be as generous and giving as possible. Remember, it all belongs to God anyway.
                Tom

                Comment


                • #9
                  A thread on a different forum was dealing with non-disclosure of staff salaries and annual expenses. The rift occurs when we start making judgment calls based only on what we see and not what we know. I know my pastor and his family quite well, so if I see that he goes and buys something that I am suspicious is a little "out there" financially, I may approach him on it. "Dude...how'd you swing that?" If an elder in the church that I don't really know goes and does the same...it is his business. I don't know him well enough to have that conversation. But I trust that someone close to him will if necessary.

                  I think we have to do the same across the board. The problem with salary and expenditure disclosure is that more time gets spent arguing over money than focusing on what the church actually needs to focus on (see the wealth of recent threads in here).

                  People sometimes look at me funny because we own 2 motorcycles (and they assume we own a car like everyone else). On the surface, it looks like I take what little money we have and blow it on toys. Then reality sets in as they see me riding my motorcycle in the snow. And then I explain that we have no car, that both motorcycles combined don't cost what a cheap used Civic or Accord does, and that combined insurance and gas from both vehicles remains well below that of a single, economical car.

                  Context is everything. Railing on a pastor for driving a Beemer without actually KNOWING the context only perpetuates slander and other such nasty things. We need to have faith that his circle of friends is keeping him accountable, and in the same breath keep ourselves and our friends accountable.

                  EDIT: There is a new thread started that kinda relates to this...
                  Last edited by hitchface; 02-10-2011, 09:20 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ursula View Post
                    I will say, that I can see absolutely no good reason for any pastor to be paid 500K. That just seems irresponsible on the part of the pastor and the congregaton. A church's mission is to reach the world for Christ, not line the pastor's pockets.

                    The Israelite community was called to give its first-fruits to God as an offering. Part of this law was that the priests received a portion of these offerings for themselves. Keep in mind that if the community grew larger or crops grew larger, the priests would receive a larger portion. I fail to see how a pastor receiving 25% of the overall tithes of the church as a salary ($50K out of $200K) is somehow more correct or Godly than a pastor receiving 1% of the overall tithes as a salary ($500K out of $50 Million) given that all other things are equal (tithing habits, etc.).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      People like this who are not Christians I find really challenge my lifestyle:

                      BBC News - Toby Ord: Why I'm giving 1m to charity

                      At the end of the day how we handle finance is down to personal conscience and conviction. If we get it wrong those around us will probably comment!

                      Simon

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JS_280 View Post
                        The Israelite community was called to give its first-fruits to God as an offering. Part of this law was that the priests received a portion of these offerings for themselves. Keep in mind that if the community grew larger or crops grew larger, the priests would receive a larger portion. I fail to see how a pastor receiving 25% of the overall tithes of the church as a salary ($50K out of $200K) is somehow more correct or Godly than a pastor receiving 1% of the overall tithes as a salary ($500K out of $50 Million) given that all other things are equal (tithing habits, etc.).
                        Keep in mind that, as the nation grew and prospered, the number of Levites and priests (the ones who lived off of the contributions of everyone else) grew at the same rate, so in reality, no one was paid an outrageous salary.

                        As believers, we need to learn how much is "enough" and learn to live with it, and give the rest back to God. Easy to say, not so easy to do.
                        Tom

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Wannabe a Worshiper View Post
                          Keep in mind that, as the nation grew and prospered, the number of Levites and priests (the ones who lived off of the contributions of everyone else) grew at the same rate, so in reality, no one was paid an outrageous salary.

                          As believers, we need to learn how much is "enough" and learn to live with it, and give the rest back to God. Easy to say, not so easy to do.
                          Tom
                          I completely agree that we should always be content with whatever God blesses us with, regardless of how large or small. However, I do not like the term "outrageous" when referring to salaries. I believe someone should receive a salary based on performance. If God is working through a pastor in a mighty way and thousands are coming to Christ and the church is growing...I have no problem with a $500K salary if the tithes are enough to support it without taking from the other areas of the church's ministries.

                          "17 The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and, the worker is worthy of his wages." - 1 Timothy 5:17-18

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            JS_280, do you have conceivable limits on the "amplitude" of the honorarium to the good leader?

                            The elephant in the room is Prosperity Theology. For example, Joyce Meyer, who lives an extravagant lifestyle by any measure, said, "If you stay in your faith, you are going to get paid... I'm living now in my reward.''

                            I have not yet made a firm decision on the merits of Prosperity Theology. God clearly promised to bless the Israelites materially if they obeyed the Covenant. I do not read the Bible to promise only deferred gratification in heaven, but I can't ignore all the "woe to the rich" verses in the NT, either. I don't know enough Greek to know whether every reference to the "rich" automatically equates the word with being selfish, arrogant, or avaricious to the needy.

                            Is there a balance? Is it all deferred gratification in heaven and maximum ascetisicm in this life? Or are material blessing and material prosperity for this life?

                            This is my current struggle and I needs y'alls halp.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sambekzx View Post
                              JS_280, do you have conceivable limits on the "amplitude" of the honorarium to the good leader?
                              Do I personally? No...just as I do not believe in redistribution of wealth or that millionaires should pay a higher percentage income tax than I do. I believe that if a church votes to pay a pastor a large salary because of the way God is working through them to reach people and the tithing can support it, that is God's way of blessing that pastor. Do I believe that a pastor should have control over his own salary? Absolutely not.

                              I am the Comptroller and IT Manager for a medium/large company. My company assigned my salary to me because of the skills that I brought to the table weighed against the overall revenues of the company. Keep in mind that they are paying me based on two criteria, skills/results and overall revenue. If my company's revenue drops, they have two options...lay me off, or reduce my salary regardless of my skills/results. If their revenue increases and my skills and results are still acceptable, I receive raises and bonuses.

                              I don't understand why a church should be any different. If you think about a pastor in terms of what they do and compare that to other jobs, they should probably make more than they do. Let's compare their job/calling and salaries to others based on company size (best I can compare based on payscale.com with 10 years of experience for my area):

                              Preaching: Teacher/Professor ($24K-90K)
                              Counseling: Counselor/HR Administrator ($40K-150K)
                              Spiritual Director: Manager/CEO ($50K-$100M)

                              That's just a few of the responsibilities that most pastors are called to perform. Why should we set a limit on what their salaries are if it is in line with the revenue of the church?


                              I do not read the Bible to promise only deferred gratification in heaven, but I can't ignore all the "woe to the rich" verses in the NT, either.

                              "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, 'Who then can be saved?' Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" -- Matthew 19:23-26

                              I think most people miss the part in bold...it's not what you have, it's where your true desire is.

                              Is there a balance? Is it all deferred gratification in heaven and maximum ascetisicm in this life? Or are material blessing and material prosperity for this life?
                              I think God was pretty clear in his love for Job and he was extremely wealthy. God never condemned him after he blessed him with riches.

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