Friday, June 24, 2022

Rich Church, Poor Community: Are Churches Failing the People it Claims to Serve?

October 18, 2010 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( It’s no secret that black churches collectively generate over $56B per year. With this infusion of cash into an institution that vows to lift the mental acuity and spiritual zeal of black people, why are so many of the black congregants continuing to find themselves struggling? Why do the occupants of the immediate area around many of our black churches struggling? I was in a conversation the other day with a lady who grows her own fruits and vegetables. She not only grows them, this is how she earns her living. However, as of late, she’s been feeling discouraged.

She went on to explain to me that every time there is a church function, she eagerly brings her goods to the church as donations for those in attendance, yet a very small percentage of the members of the church are patrons of her business. There can be multiple reasons for this but it doesn’t excuse the underlying problem that, unfortunately, many of our organizations (and social network) rarely act in a reciprocal manner, especially if you are not a “connected” member.

Why would this be acceptable? The Bible clearly says to bring your tithes and offerings to the storehouse, but it also says do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So are we saying that the attitude of the church is separate from the individual teachings of the Bible? Does this mean that   churches can operate separate from behaving like an individual? We fail to understand that churches are not buildings and pews. They are people. Knowing this, we should also know that the church should behave similarly to Jesus. Its focus should be to enrich and lift the people, so the people can enrich and lift the church.

I posted a debate on my Facebook to open the discussion about churches tapping their members for services that it needs before opening the opportunities to the general public. One Facebook friend felt it would be a conflict of interest for a member to provide services to the church, while another felt the church needed to support its members by being a patron of the entrepreneurs in its congregation.

I actually agree with the latter. I also believe that it is irresponsible for churches to only focus on extracting the 10% of earnings from its members without having regular discussions on what members should be doing with their other 90%. You see, churches, especially mega-churches, are being run by business and financially astute persons. Taking funds from an insolvent member of a church who is barely surviving in this economy, especially when pressure is applied through emotional appeals or fear of Godly retribution, is borderline of exploitation; this is worse when the pressure is coming directly from the pastor.

Churches should explain practical applications on how members can reap what they sew into the church instead of an inspirational speech filled with platitudes and rhetoric. Shouldn’t the congregants be taught how to sell themselves and build revenue for themselves just how the pastor sells himself and the teachings of God every Sunday? Members who earn more would tithe more. But I also know that some pastors’ strategy is to keep the members unhappy because unhappy people tend to frequent the church.

When folks get happy, they sometimes forget about God. But, this is not for the church to monitor, that’s only if the church truly believes God will provide. My opinion is the church should not be above the people nor should the people be above the church. This only makes sense since the church is “of” the people. Don’t misunderstand me. I absolutely believe a pastor should be taken care of by his flock. I would even go as far to say that pastors should be taken care of enough to not have to moonlight in another career. However, I believe that we also need to ensure pastors do not confuse “care” with greed.

This discussion is not popular. It’s also why many of my requests to present a lecture of my new book, “Rebuilding the Black Infrastructure: Making America a Colorless Nation” has been rejected. Yes, I discuss the failings of the church in it but also highlight the opportunities. The questioning of the church is easily dismissed by church leaders who choose to use Biblical scripture to make followers doubt their inquiries on the practical applications of the church. I am not asking the church to layout the groundwork of their strategic spiritual development.

I am asking that churches make reciprocal investment into their members a top priority, just as they expect the members to make it a priority placing theirs into the church. It seems only fair and a practice that would be mutually beneficial to both the church and the “people.”

Written By Devin Robinson

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6 Responses to “Rich Church, Poor Community: Are Churches Failing the People it Claims to Serve?”
  1. reality_check says:

    Black churches are parasites on the community. They have so much potential, yet they choose not to exercise it. The black church, like almost everything else in America, has been used to keep black people oppressed and depressed. I am thoroughly convinced that the church is one of the major things holding black people back.

  2. Marque-Anthony says:

    Churches are failing miserably. Not all churches, but far too many. There are two churches on every major street in every community yet crime is rampant, homelessness is awful, people have no jobs and they have to count on the government for food stamps, wic and section 8 housing. All while too many churches never do outreach because they are too busy doing “inreach”.

    The great CO-mission was to go OUT and spread the good news, not do it on TBN only, radio only or wait for people to find their way into the sanctuary. The salt has lost it’s savor. Where are our own banks, homeless shelters, job training centers, grocery stores, medical facilities?

    The church cannot get away from dependency on the world because the church has become just like it. Churches provide loans but want members to give, not loan. The moneychangers are back and the church Christ founded has become the church of Rev. Dr. Profit Ripoff.

    If you do not study for yourself and hold the pastor and church leadership accountable, they get away with it every week. I am in Atlanta where Creflo Dollar has two jets, two Rolls Royces and offices on 4 continents. Yet members not in the click are lucky to get a loan, wow.

    People thought Bishop Molester Long of New Birth walked on water. They literally carried him on their shoulders while he set on a man-made thrown. But God brought that charlatan down. We often quote “the thief cometh not but to steal, kill and destroy” and we refer to the thief as satan. But read the chapter closely and you will see that satan is the wolf in that chapter while the false minister who tricks and leaves the sheep helpless is the THIEF.

  3. toomanygrandkids says:

    “Unhappy people frequent church.” Such a true statement and the older these people are the more misery they spread among the community. I have definitely noticed this back when I was a teenager.

    As far as the lady who tries to sell her home-grown veggies to church members: BLACKS DO NOT SUPPORT OTHER BLACKS! Even church members DO NOT wanna see hard-working black people earn a dime. That lady (and others like her) should find other locations to sell her veggies. Blacks are just as divided in church as they are in the community.

    Minister/Pastors/Preachers should not be taken care of to the point where they live in million dollar mansions and drive fancy schmacy vehicles. Just like so many other high-earning blacks who rarely “give back” to the black community, black preachers are selfish and “in it” for the money. In case you didn’t know when a pastor claims he received a call from God to preach the Word, most likely he lied big-time. Their calling is usually a means to pay child support/other bills and live a lavish lifestyle. The majority of black preachers usta be crooks/criminals who are now religious crooks.

  4. toomanygrandkids says:

    Black churches are a SCAM. People don’t want to acknowledge it. I don’t know who’s worse: the pastors, deacons, etc or members of the congregation. There are blacks who believe that they truly can’t have heaven on earth. Pastors hammer this teaching into the brains/minds of black people. While the live in the lap of luxury, black people are waiting to reach glory through death. Supposedly, life is better and worth living in the kingdom.

    Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But many people put their lives on hold. Not doing anything to make for a better life. All the while, the pastor gets/takes their money, uses them for all of his needs, and church-goers see this as a way of life. Believe me when I say that I have heard church members complain about their pastors and other members of the congregation in street-like ways. Cussing, name-calling, and behaving like children.

    And church folks aren’t living a God-like life. There are “married men” and “married women” having affairs inside and outside of the church. Elderly folks have been carrying on in this manner for at least 25 years. Down-low dudes (including pastors) are among the congregation. Why don’t the pastor “preach” about this type of sin more often? Probably because he’d lose half of his congregations monetary offering. So pastors would much rather put money in his pocket than “school” these individuals. Either that or he knows they won’t listen to him anyway.

    The black church is the devil’s playground. It has been revealed that pastors are now into drug activity. Some of their male relatives (sons, nephews, cousins, etc) are storing drugs and weapons in the church. They know that law enforcement very rarely will raid a church. More “goings on” occur for years inside churches until exposure of the guilty.

  5. Joe says:

    Devin, Thanks for writing this. I speak on this issue all the time, but it now needs to become a serious dialogue at the national level. Those who’ve previously raised these concerns have had their voices drowned out by those on the other side of the argument. I’m confident we’ll be able to withstand those efforts, moving forward. I’ll be contacting you directly, so we can help move the national dialogue forward.

  6. sheila says:

    I am so glad you said ministers should be cared for so they do not have to moonlight. But it should not become greed. I watch so many ministers on tv and they go on and on about money. I do not think you need Rolls Royce cars to get around in why can’t it be a 15,000 to 20,000 american made car. Why should the ministers live in a 3 million dollar house why not a house for 150,000 something that is comfortable for the area they are located in. I see so much greed in many of the ministers on tv. I am not saying all of them are like this but we are exposed so much to tv the greedy preachers.

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