Joyce Meyer Ministries Addresses Lingering Controversies About Financial Practices

Representative for Popular Christian Nonprofit Explains Changes Made in Wake of Senate Probe CPost

5492 reads

There are 17 Comments

Mark_Smith's picture

Most SI posters have lambasted about how holy they are for not looking at the financial giving records of their members. So let me ask you. What business is it of yours what happens to the money of a non-profit (if you can't bring yourself to say "ministry") that you are not a member of or that you never gave money to?

SamH's picture

because even in good, well-taught, Word-focused churches, there are people who lack discernment and give (often large $$) to ministries such as this false teacher's. 

SamH

Mark_Smith's picture

And that is your business?

Mark_Smith's picture

If how your own church's members give is none of your business, what business is it for you to concern yourself with how other people give to other groups?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

A warning against supporting a "ministry" that is teaching a false gospel is quite different from counting money received, and it should be obvious that a pastor's duties include warning against those who are false teachers.

Dave Barnhart

Mark_Smith's picture

Read the article. Is it accusing her of being a false teacher, or that she cleaned up her financial act?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Yes, the article talks about her financial affairs.  My response was to your comment implying that we have no basis to be concerned with what other organizations do with money that "other people" have given, if we shouldn't care about exactly what people give in our own.

First, I missed that by "other people," you most likely meant people not attached in any way to our own ministries.  Obviously, most of us don't really care that unbelievers give to "ministries" that we believe are wrong.  However, to any Christians giving to these ministries, a warning would be appropriate.

Second, when giving to any charitable organization, it's still way more important what that organization does with the money than what individuals have given to that organization.  In other words, the organization has a much greater burden of transparency than those who give to it.  That's true of our churches too.

Finally, even if this organization has nothing to do with our own ministries, we can certainly learn from the mistakes of even non-Christian entities so that our ministries can do things in the right way.

Therefore, even though I had nothing to do with posting this filing, and it's not about a fundamental organization, I can still see the relevance to SI readers.

Dave Barnhart

Mark_Smith's picture

I am crossing a thread here. Many posters agreed in another thread that they never looked at believer's giving records. I am saying, IF YOU THINK THAT, what legitimate reason do you have to be concerned about giving in another ministry? What is the consistency there?

 

HINT: I  am attempting to point out the inconsistency in ignoring how your people give, but have your nose up in what other groups do when you theologically disagree with them...

DavidO's picture

Mark, 

This is pretty simple.  In the first case, you are talking about monitoring the giving habits of members in good standing.  In the other, you are talking about the amounts received and the monetary handling practices of a high profile organization that claims to do ministry in the name of Christ.  

So, these are clearly different categories.  I'm not saying there might not be good reasons to monitor the giving of your congregants, but it does not follow that if you refuse to do that, then you are inconsistent when opining about Meyer's practices. 

And I will say that any faulty practices in her "ministry" SHOULD be called out as it may reflect publicly on ALL those who claim to do ministry in the name of Christ. 

Steve Newman's picture

I would encourage you to look at the balance sheets just to get an idea of the magnitude of this ministry. It would be interesting to know what percentage of funds are from the local church and what percent is through books/TV ministry. Also noted that they spent 6 million dollars for "fundraising". Does that seem like a lot to you?

Jay's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

I am crossing a thread here. Many posters agreed in another thread that they never looked at believer's giving records. I am saying, IF YOU THINK THAT, what legitimate reason do you have to be concerned about giving in another ministry? What is the consistency there?

I am attempting to point out the inconsistency in ignoring how your people give, but have your nose up in what other groups do when you theologically disagree with them...

I'm just going to number my points instead of writing everything out.

  1. I don't think a pastor should be looking into giving records for his church.  I've already said that on the other thread, but in the interest of disclosure on this one I will say it here as well. 
     
  2. Comparing the financial records for a public nonprofit (even if the records are not publicly disclosed) to what individual families give to their church is like comparing kittens to the composition of asteroids in the Delta Quadrant.  The comparison doesn't work at all.
     
  3. JMM is a very high profile ministry that was swept into a Senate investigation into the practices of religious nonprofits (there's a ton of links to other resources on the Wikipedia page, so I linked there).  So there's plenty of reason for this to be discussed on SharperIron, since the majority of our posters (and probably readers) are involved with religious nonprofits in some way or another.
     
  4. JMM - regardless of whatever we may think - did at least respond to the allegations and attempt to resolve the issues, according to CP.  So there is that point in their favor. Creflo Dollar, on the other hand, did not respond and actually made a fundraising pitch to his donors a few months later so that they could buy a $65MM luxury jet 'for the ministry'.  After public backlash, they dialed the pitch back a little bit, but did go ahead and purchase the plane anyway.  For the name of Jesus, or something like that.
     
  5. I work in NPOs and deal with payroll issues.  IF Joyce herself makes $250K for running a $110,000,000.00 charity, her compensation is well within the norms, and should actually probably be even more.  If she were at 950K, as much as that is, I don't think it would be unreasonable.   The President of the March of Dimes, according to their 2013 Form 990 on Guidestar, runs a 195MM Nonprofit and makes 508K a year in salary.  So while it might be distasteful to some, it's not insane or unrealistic.
     
  6. As a general practice, NPOs should avoid having family relatives on the Board in general.  As the article stated, it's common for small and young nonprofits, but it should be gotten away from as soon as possible to avoid conflicts of interest and other issues like that.
     
  7. Without looking at the 990 - and I would submit that it sets off warning flags in my mind when a ministry that large refuses to release their 990 - $6MM for fundraising seems, actually, kind of low.  But a lot of the people in the C-suite (like Joyce) will be fundraisers themselves and may have their salaries allocated to a different segment of the budget.  It really depends on how they handle the specific allocations in their P&L and cost centers.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Ron Bean's picture

Are we right if we demand to know the details of the financial matters of non-church ministries we like and support? Should we want to know how those ministries are spending their money? Should we care what their leadership and staff salaries are?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jay's picture

Ron,

I have no problems with people wanting to know the specifics of the organizations that they support, including expenses and potentially salaries. The Form 990 that almost all NPOs are required to fill out (churches are exempt) legally mandates the disclosure of the top 5 salaries in the organization, and most NPOs will publically disclose their 990s as a method of providing a fair account of what they do with their funds.  JMM, for whatever reason, does not, and I would hold that against them.

If you trust an organization with money that is supposed to be used for the 'public good' (and I use that because spiritual ministry is in the public good, and also because not all NPOs are religious), then I expect that the money they receive is being used properly and that they can account for it easily.  It doesn't matter if it's a kitten rescue shelter or a multi-million dollar 'ministry'.  

Finally, I would submit that is even more important, since we server as representatives of Christ.  IMO, there ought to be as much transparency on financials as possible, in keeping with I Thessalonians 2:1-12.  It behooves us to conduct ourselves as blameless as possible, especially when it comes to the management of other people's donations.  If there is a pastor or ministry team leader that doesn't want to account for their money, my first question is always why can't they do that.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

SamH's picture

because I am responsible for equipping them, teaching them, and helping all of us as a local church (which I pastor) to grow in discernment. While I do not delve into the personal lives of our members to the extent of telling them what to do with money, or anything at all similar to that, I do work to use the Scripture to help us all find commands, principles and guidelines to govern our various stewardships, including that of money. So, at the same time that I would warn people about her aberrant theology, I would warn them about her if she was mishandling ministry funds, or possibly profiting from a ministry in a way which was questionable (personally and as head of a so-called ministry). If this is out of the purview of a pastor, or even a fellow Christian church member, then I would stop, but would need a powerful argument to do so. We warn about wolves regardless of the way they are eating the sheep, and so that they do not eat the sheep I must shepherd. 

 

Mark_Smith wrote:

And that is your business?

SamH

Mark_Smith's picture

My point was that people here at SI seem  interested in telling people not to give to Joyce Meyers, for example, but HAVE NO INTEREST AT ALL in whether members of the church they pastor give... Does that seem consistent?

SamH's picture

I think it is perhaps quite possible to speak to the issue of a Christian's need to being discerning about where a Christian should spend their money (esp. as to giving to "ministries") without looking at what they have/have not contributed to your local church. But, it sounds like we differ here; I do not know the way our people give, but I would teach them commands, principles, guidelines about ministry giving, and place the outcome of such teaching in the hands of the Holy Spirit. I would still teach them of the need to give to our church, etc., and would only go "to the books" to see amounts if I felt there was a serious discipleship matter in play. Even then, I would first leave it at the level of their willingness to be honest, i.e. if I thought that giving were a discipleship issue about giving that needed guidance, I would personally ask them to be honest about whether they gave or not, and go from there. There are implications from this approach that I hope the reader can draw (as regards giving to a JM-esque "ministry") from what I have written so far. I will leave it there.And, as my Finn ancestors might say "Kippis!"

Mark_Smith wrote:

My point was that people here at SI seem  interested in telling people not to give to Joyce Meyers, for example, but HAVE NO INTEREST AT ALL in whether members of the church they pastor give... Does that seem consistent? 

SamH

dgszweda's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

My point was that people here at SI seem  interested in telling people not to give to Joyce Meyers, for example, but HAVE NO INTEREST AT ALL in whether members of the church they pastor give... Does that seem consistent?

 

Not at all.  One is a Biblical mandate (warnings against following or supporting false teachers), and the other one is not a Biblical mandate (I am not aware of anything in Scripture where the elders need to know the detailed giving records of members, and even if you could construe a passage, it would not be close to the same level as warnings against false teachers).  

It appears that you may not be consistent with your understanding of the application between the two.