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What Happens When You Force People to Tithe

Faith Christian Church has been accused of using coercive leadership and financial tactics. More than 20 former members were interviewed by the Arizona Daily Star for an inside investigation into the church’s practices. The church is now being investigated by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. The EFCA is meeting with one of the former members on the 25th.

Here is a letter from the 20+ members to the ECFA:

March 19, 2015

Dear Mr. Busby:

We write as former members hoping to engage you in a discussion of our experience at Faith Christian Church in Tucson, AZ.

We are aware that Faith Christian Church has been a member of the ECFA since 2004. Many of us have attended since then and are aware of the practices of the church while it was a member in good standing with the ECFA.

We saw in the March 12 issue of the Arizona Daily Star that the ECFA is conducting an investigation of Faith Christian Church and has sent an executive to Tucson for that purpose. We welcome this news, however we respectfully ask that the ECFA investigators speak to former members about violations of ECFA guidelines.  We can offer unique insight to the financial policies that current members or current church leadership cannot.

In violation of ECFA’s Donor’s Bill of Rights, most of us experienced pressure to donate at least 10% of our income while at the church.  In fact, it is clearly written in their membership that tithing is a requirement for membership.  If someone did not comply with this requirement, they were often notified that they were not trusting in the Lord and that they would be cursed.  The pastor, Steve Hall, often said he would not pastor cursed people. Weekly, most of us gave our 10%, but the church also encouraged a financial offering on top of that.  We could not designate where our tithe went, but we could designate where we wanted the offering to go (missions, building fund, etc.).  Sometimes, staff members from the church would ask to see the tax returns or bank statements of church members so that the leaders could know the exact figure the members were to give. Some members were even pushed out of the church for not giving the required amount.

Church members were allowed to see the church budget if they asked, although most of us would have felt uncomfortable doing so.  The financial statements were never reported in a church bulletin or discussed at a church meeting.  There was no outside agency that helped determine church spending, salaries, audits, or financial policies, although Steve Hall did use a formula to justify his salary of $100,000+  a year.  Non-staff members did not know how the tithe was being spent.

We ask that you contact ___________ at ­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________ or _____________ to facilitate interviews with former members for the purpose of investigating the issue of compliance by FCC with ECFA standards.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned Former Members (22 names redacted at their request).

 I believe in tithing…but more important that that…I believe in generous giving. If these allegations are true this  church has a lot of ‘splaining to do.
What do you think?

 

Pastor who promised three-fold return for Bentley “seed” missing

Prophet Uebert Angel founder and president has been involved in case of fraud regarding a Bentley and the promise of “a three fold return.” Businessman Ndabazinengi Shava says he gave the car to Prophet Angel last year to sow “a seed into his life.”

According to Shava it was promised he would see the three fold return in eight months. According to ALL AFRICA Anderson Tagara was fined 4000 US dollars after being found guilty of being an accessory to theft of trust property charge. Anderson Tagara – who operates a car dealership – initially pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud when his trial opened before Harare regional magistrate Noel Mupeiwa yesterday.

An arrest warrant has since been issued against Angel after he failed to appear in court to answer the fraud charge.

Does this go against the promises in the Bible against giving? No. But it does show that if not careful zeal without knowledge can lead to abuse.

3 Biblical and Data Driven Reasons Why You’re Giving Less

Ellen Painter Dollar recently shared her struggles with tithing. According to her, when she was in her 20’s she was a faithful giver. Now that she and her husband presently make 4 times what she used to make she doesn’t tithe. According to her:

“We give away about 5 percent of our gross income every month, divided between a pledge to our church, a monthly gift to an organization addressing global poverty…and smaller donations to charities we support.

And I miss that money. I’m glad we give it away, but I miss it. I would like to give more, but I’m also enjoying the financial place we’re in right now. Due to a significant promotion my husband got last year, we are for the first time in our adult lives able to do things like go out to dinner for a birthday and pay for the kids’ summer camps without hyperventilating. I admit that the idea of giving away a higher percentage of our income, and as a result having to seriously curtail some expenses, makes me feel a bit resentful. And then guilty, because really Ellen? You sit here in your lovely home with a kitchen full of food and three children who have never wanted for anything, and you resent giving away money that you’d rather use on, what, new jeans or a renovated kitchen or a vacation? Pathetic.”

But Ellen is not alone.

According to an analysis of IRS tax returns researchers at the Chronicle of Philanthropy found the wealthiest Americans — those who earned $200,000 per year and over — actually reduced the share of their income they gave to charity by 4.6% in 2012, compared to the amount they gave in 2006.

Giving decreases as income increases

Those who earned less than $100,000 — including poor and middle-class families with two working adults — donated 4.5% more of their income in 2012 than 2006, but those making $25,000 or less gave 16.6% more. But those charitable contributions steadily decreased as incomes increased.

So why are you giving less? You already guessed it: you’re making more money.

You can read the rest on my guest post at Patheos.

What I’ve Learned from a Series of Rapid Fire Promotions

Promotion

I recently got promoted.

That is why you haven’t seen as much posts from me.My workload has increased because of the promotion. I used to be an assistant branch manager at a Fortune 500 company, now I’m promoted to a branch manager. Being a new manager has a few perks including increased pay, greater responsibilities, and a company car.

When I told you I took my branch to #1 four consecutive times I wasn’t making that up. In fact, they went and gave me this plaque for a great quarter:

ABM of the quarter

(Yes I blotted out all the previous winners and my company name.)

After that I received a call from my general manager (my boss’ boss’ boss) who told me I should interview for an upcoming branch and voila here I am.

Now there a few things I’ve learned through these quick series of promotions:

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How Tithing Helped Improve My Marriage

Wedding_rings

I’m a pro-tither.

I advocate it and encourage people to do it. I have seen tremendous blessings as a result of it. One blessing that I’ve seen is the improvement of my marriage.

Before I was a consistent tither my marriage was on its last leg. My wife was pregnant with our 2nd child and was considering leaving. She loved me but with the tight finances, the tense atmosphere, my bad attitude, and my constant complaining it was getting to her.

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The Marketing You’re Subjected to When Giving to Larger Ministries

large ministry marketing

 

Since I embarked on this journey of giving I’ve been bombarded with extra mail.

The letters above are the ones I received Tuesday.

( I crossed out my name for privacy’s sake. I like you but I don’t need you to know where I live :) )

The most intrusive one I’ve received is from Mike Murdock. Murdock went further than just sending me a letter, his ministry would occasionally call my phone with prerecorded messages of how God was going to bless me as I continued to sow into his ministry.

That has been the most annoying to date.

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How The State of Tithing in America Has Evolved

For all its controversy tithes and offerings account for$50 billion a year in the U.S.

$50 billion.

This $50 billion is from 10 million tithers–people who donate 10% or more their income to a church–across America. They make up 10-25% of a normal congregation yet they for 50-80% of church funding.

The ole’ Pareto principle (or the 80-20 rule) is still at work.

Here’s an infographic on the state of church giving in the US.

So out of that $50 billion there are churches receiving a larger portion of that pie.

And its not because they are megachurches.

The Reasons Why Some Churches See Bigger Offerings

Now I understand the controversy of this article. I know there people who see churches as businesses where “rich pastors” deceive poor people to give. Also, to be frank: I’m not a pastor. I get no benefit from tithes and offerings. So no I’m not asking you to send me a check!

But I am somebody who has seen their own life change as a result of  giving. Not only that, but I do believe in the mission of the global church–the one called to lead, serve, and share. Regardless of its imperfections and missteps, it has great value in the eyes of One who died for it.

So, if it needs helps with the bills I think its only fair I lend a hand.

So yes, I’m a pro-tither!

Read the rest on my guest post at Patheos