mega churches and money

Salaries for lead pastors go as high as $400,000 to as low as $40,000, Leadership Network reported in its 2010 Large Church Salary and Benefits Report. It’s not likely that churches will have to return their loan money at this point, but there’s still time to determine if the government privileged certain religious applicants or used taxpayer money in inappropriate ways, said Alison Gill, the vice president of policy for American Atheists, an organization fighting for more separation between church and state. “If we had been short-staffed once that aspect of things came to the surface and we recognized we needed to lean into those things, it would have been really hard. "What makes our PPP different [from] past funding programs is the direct financing of religious operations and religious institutions,” said Schwartzman. from Dr. Roger Barrier and get Christian, Biblical advice on today's issues. “I saw everything crumbling, and then it was a question of like, ‘What now?’” she said. MORE: Coronavirus live updates: Biden admin won't lift COVID travel restrictions after Trump announces changes for UK, Europe, MORE: JPMorgan Chase investigating misuse of pandemic aid funds, MORE: Luxury hotels benefited from PPP loans. “I think we still would have done it [without the PPP funds],” Vaughn said, “but we would have been short-handed. (Righteous Invasion of Truth)” believed in the power of celebrity and spectacle to draw people to Jesus. Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church is probably the biggest church in the United States, with 50,000 or so members. “I was furious,” said Black. Protestant churches are no different. “It changes the landscape of how the federal government [and] state governments relate to religious organizations.". The CARES Act was trying to pump money into the economy. Mega churches across the United States are becoming increasingly popular which is not only bringing thousands of worshippers together, but also billions of dollars in profit. Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, had similar concerns. He also understands why those outside the church might be skeptical of religious organizations getting money from the federal government. Browse 60+ years of magazine archives and web exclusives. University of Pennsylvania sociologist Ram Cnaan describes it as a “halo effect.” Churches provide social services, from counseling to child care, and also spend money locally. Joel Osteen, another Texas megachurch pastor, received $350,000 to $1 million in loans for his Houston-based Lakewood Church, or about one-fifth what First Baptist of Dallas received. The church’s 52-year-old senior pastor was hired in 2005, it employs 25 staff members, and attendance has been recently growing 7 percent per year. But in some cases they do … “I mean, reality is that we can't write the rules,” she said. Multiracial churches have not been good news for everyone. Approximately 50 churches in the U.S. have a weekly attendance ranging from 10,000 to 47,000 people The 13,000-member Southern Baptist megachurch received between $2 million and $5 million in April, according to OpenTheBooks.com. In the end, Black said she was denied the PPP loan because she had applied for it through multiple lenders even though she had been advised to do so. With the PPP program now reopened and more people with a critical eye on its lending, the SBA did not respond to specific questions from ABC News. Can Megachurches Deal With Mega Money in a Christian Way? Schwartzman pointed out that there was “no serious political or public opposition” to religious organizations being eligible for PPP loans like other nonprofits. The church has 236 people on staff and used the “overwhelming majority” of the PPP money for payroll. Ashley Harrington is the Federal Advocacy Director of the Center for Responsible Lending. Churches do provide extensive economic benefits to their communities. These churches of darkness are flourishing by discrediting the Scriptures. The Catholic Church might have taken in as much as $3.5 billion. Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a service at his church as the city starts the process of rebuilding after severe flooding during Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, Sep. 3, 2017, in Houston. “It means everything to me, honestly,” said Black. Data from the SBA showed churches led by Evangelical TV stars received anywhere from $250,000 to $5 million in loans. His ministry operates several branches including the NGO Inner City Missions for Children, three Christian television channels, the Loveworld book series, the Healing School and the Rhapsody of … Duping those who wanted to be duped. Black opened the gelato store in Arlington, Virginia, in December 2019 -- soon after returning home from a 13-month deployment in the Navy reserves. You attract people by your sheer size. The additional 7 percent went to rent and utilities. The nondenominational megachurch, which has about 5,000 people in two locations on a normal Sunday, received $400,000. Megachurches were integrated by blacks seeking to end ‘the most segregated hour in America.’ But now those churches are getting Trumpy, and blacks are leaving. Two in 5 Protestant pastors (40%) say their church has applied for government assistance offered through the CARES Act or the Small Business Administration, while 56% say they have not. “You could tell there were a few folks that let out a sigh of relief,” he said. “What’s it going to look like in terms of the optics in the long term, that this is where the church went for a rescue?”. Exploring the Megachurch Phenomena: Their characteristics and cultural context. MEGA provides free cloud storage with convenient and powerful always-on privacy. Thereasa Black opened her gelato shop in Arlington, Virginia, in December 2019. Read Why Do Churches Ask for So Much Money? The average net income of megachurches was estimated at $4.8 million by that same survey. Law professor Micah Schwartzman of the University of Virginia. Prominent media coverage of many of the nation's leading Christian pastors often places their lives and actions under the public microscope. About $7.3 billion went to religious organizations, according to government records. From Joel Osteen's recent CNN interview, to last week's Elephant Room conferences, the very public lives of the country's top religious leaders frequently bring strong criticism. The average salary for a lead pastor in a megachurch is $147,000, according to a recent survey. Megachurches, where pastors are sometimes worth millions of dollars, were also able to qualify for PPP. It’s manna from Caesar, that’s for sure,” he said. Despite four months of not meeting in person, the Southern Baptist multisite megachurch, with regular weekly attendance of 14,000 people at nine locations, didn’t have to lay off any staff. Black said that during the entire month of April 2020, her business had made only a day’s worth, or 10%, of pre-pandemic sales. In all, the federal government gave more than $7 billion in loans to religious organizations. Vaughn is sympathetic to that point of view. Black said she applied for grants and applied for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program in April, which aims to help small business owners like her stay afloat. “We’re not a business, but we are an employer in the community,” he said. In a press release, the agency said that it is "calling upon its lending partners to redouble their efforts to assist eligible borrowers in underserved and disadvantaged communities.". “We wanted to make sure that we didn’t have people walking around nervous and worrying. Because Palm Valley’s staff didn’t have to worry about their job security, they were able to focus fully on caring for the church in the pandemic, Vaughn said. Email: sthumma@hartsem.edu If you are interested in megachurches, you might find this 2007 book co-authored by Hartford Institute professor, Scott Thumma, interesting.. What can we do about it? This can serve as a powerful attraction to one who is contemplating which local church to attend. Vaughn said he would normally be skeptical himself. Sandals Church, in Riverside, California, received a loan between $1 million and $2 million, according to executive director Brian Chelette. More than 400 evangelical churches received loans of at least $1 million. And at least one pastor seized on … Televangelist Joel Osteen's megachurch in Houston received a $4.4 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.. The church has also given 170 computer tablets to seniors, to help them better communicate with loved ones while isolated by the pandemic. “Not only has the PPP helped the strategic shift, but it’s also helped maintain the teams that are focused on caring for and supporting our communities,” Chelette told CT. “Strong churches help ensure strong communities.”. … Having the resources to be at full staff I believe firmly enabled us to lean into racial justice.”. Palm Valley, which is about 50 percent white and 50 percent African American and Latino, invited African American members to share their experiences of racism with the congregation. Although some argue granting them loans under the program was appropriate as churches are employers and service providers, law professor Micah Schwartzman of the University of Virginia says it’s not that simple. “They didn’t need this money, which was really designated for small businesses that were hurting,” he said. T wo organizations that know megachurches well have released a new study they describe as “by far the biggest-scale, cross-denominational response … Popular Christian financial advisor Dave Ramsey strongly discouraged churches from taking the money on his radio show, for example. The Edmond, Okla.-based church, pastored by Craig Groeschel, brought in $143.4 million in cash and noncash donations in 2018 and reported $281 … Mega church memberships generally explode within a two- to five-year period, becoming overnight successes. First Baptist did not return a request for comment from ABC News. Scott Thumma, PhD. Lakewood Church and Joyce Meyers Ministries told ABC News that the money from the loans was used to save hundreds of jobs and that the pastors did not receive any of the money … The nondenominational megachurch, which has about 5,000 people in two locations on a normal Sunday, received $400,000. Singer of “Satan, Bite the Dust!” and “R.I.O.T. Palm Valley is one of more than 88,000 religious organizations that received money from the Small Business Administration as part of the CARES Act, which President Donald Trump signed in March. Meanwhile, thousands of minority-owned small businesses waited longer and received less money, or no money at all, the Associated Press reported. “The public perception is that some organizations that have financial means should not have taken the money, even if they were eligible for it,” he added. How a group of white church planters learned to listen to African Americans and build a better Christian community. The church behind one mega-preacher, Joseph Prince, was forced to deny that he earned an annual salary of $550,000, after his wealth was reported online. American churches took in as much as $10 billion in taxpayer funds through PPP loans. Billions of dollars from the first round of loans through the Paycheck Protection Program went to wealthy and well-connected businesses that were more likely to be white-owned, according to data released by the Small Business Administration (SBA), which manages the program, as reported by ABC News. Who gets a helping hand from PPP loan program? Churches are exempt from income taxes. He said the “objection” to megachurches receiving the loans is similar to that of large corporations receiving the loans. The mega church is located in Lagos. Because of that, Chelette said, they were able to put a lot of energy into helping those in need. When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, the possibility of losing what she had worked hard so hard became all the more apparent. Lakewood Church and Joyce Meyers Ministries told ABC News that the money from the loans was used to save hundreds of jobs and that the pastors did not receive any of the money themselves. Small businesses are hoping for more than a miracle. Megachurch Pastor Caught Buying Private Jet With PPP Funds. The loan received by Osteen's Lakewood Church … Thumma, a professor at Hartford Seminary, has since his book reported that the average megachurch income was $6.5 million in 2007, up from $4.7 million in … “That program is a worthwhile exception to the general rule,” Vaughn told Christianity Today. He has told his congregation that the home is a gift from God. Palm Valley, like about 40 percent of Protestant churches in the United States according to a LifeWay Research survey, decided to apply for the forgivable loan. There was just too much to do, and so we needed everybody’s head in the game.”. Perhaps the next Mega-Church will have well padded reclining seats and offer popcorn & drinks for their Sunday entertainment. “But we can try to demand something better.”, 24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events. Providing money to churches was unprecedented and controversial—even among evangelicals. Mars Hill Church spent $210,000 getting its pastor's book to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. “It was really intended to be a lifeline for small businesses,” said Ashley Harrington, Federal Advocacy Director of the Center for Responsible Lending. mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. A new investigation has found that millions of dollars worth of PPP funds ended up going to megachurches, which was a violation of the terms of the PPP loans. Now, Black is one of many other business owners back in line to apply for loans and demand change from the PPP program in order to save their businesses. The PPP rules say loans will be converted to grants if 75 percent of the funds are used for payroll and the rest for specified needs, including rent and utilities. Many megachurches preach a prosperity gospel, the idea that God wants us to be rich, and if you aren't, it's through some fault of your own. Restaurant chains like like Shake Shack, Ruth’s and Chris Steak House came under fire last year after they received $10 million or more in PPP loans. Mike Vaughn doesn’t think churches should accept money from the government, normally. In a study of 90 churches in three urban areas, Cnaan found each house of worship contributed $1.2 million to $2.5 million to the local economy every year. “The loan really helped us to be able to make other decisions that allowed us to be that much more of a blessing to the community.”, Subscribe to CT and “Is it really manna from heaven? The mega-church model which was the flavor of the week in church leadership circles for decades is now beginning to crumble. Christianity Today strengthens the church by richly communicating the breadth of the true, good, and beautiful gospel. The CARES Act gave $521 billion in PPP funds to small businesses, nonprofits, and churches between the beginning of April and the end of June. Sandals has given away 13,000 boxes of food since the pandemic hit California, as well as 10,000 medical-grade face masks, 400 face shields, 100 pairs of goggles, and 15,000 protective hospital gowns. LifeWay Research says nearly a quarter of Protestant churches applied for money and more than half of them received it. The SBA also extended the PPP loans to nonprofit groups, which normally wouldn’t qualify through the agency. Yet Nigerian churches do often invest large amounts of their congregations’ money in shares and property, at home and abroad, he and another banking source said. His church, the New Creation Church in Singapore, is one of the largest in Asia, with a congregation of 31,000. Other churches that received PPP funds have similar stories. It has also set aside funds specifically for businesses with 10 employees or fewer, according to the press release. “Here’s why: You just let the federal government into the management of your organization.”. Financial troubles forced Rick Warren to send a desperate plea for money to his Saddleback congregation two years ago. Claim your free 50GB now The church also organized a volunteer force to help with several projects, including providing care packages to area hospitals and serving a local food bank. “It was crazy to me that I'm reading like, this company got $2 million ... and it's just like, is this a joke?”. Her business is more than that, though; it also fulfills a promise that she made to her 4-year-old daughter Isabella. After a painstaking application process, Black said she was approved for only $2,000. With the government set to issue a new round of business loans as part of its latest COVID-19 relief bill, struggling small businesses, like Thereasa Black’s gelato shop, are hoping for more than a miracle. Turn on desktop notifications for breaking stories about interest? By tithing to the church as much money as possible, you show your faith in the Lord and it — according to the church — will return to you, the parishioner, a … The first thing Vaughn did when he got the news was tell church’s 24 full-time and 20 part-time staff members that their jobs were safe. Palm Valley staff called every member of the church to check in every two weeks, praying for them, encouraging them, and listening to their needs. The first thing Vaughn did when he … Religious groups got $7.3B in forgivable loans. Life.Church, which is headquartered in Edmond, Oklahoma, but has 34 locations and produces podcasts and online religion programs, received between $5m and $10m and said the money … The money helped with more than just paying the bills, however. Sign Up For Our Newsletter “However, there were, from the outset, structural flaws with this program, structural barriers.”. ABC News’ Faith Abubey reports on the struggle for minority-owned small businesses to secure PPP loans, and megachurches facing scrutiny after securing funds. But when the administrative pastor of the Palm Valley Church in Goodyear, Arizona, looked at the looming economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus shutdowns, the staff jobs he was trying to save, and the way Congress structured the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to be used by religious organizations, he felt different. So did the investment trusts that own them. “We’re learning how to be a diverse congregation,” Vaughn said. As one member commented, “You hit a certain size and you can become self-generating. She said it wasn’t even enough to cover one month’s rent. Thereasa Black opened her gelato shop to fulfill a promise to her daughter Isabella in Arlington, Virginia, in December 2019. Funding churches is one way to do that. With their full staff, the church could also better engage the national conversation about racism and policing after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Your daily news briefing from the editors of CT. Gordon College Loses City Contract, Gets Accreditation Scrutiny. It would have been a much heavier lift.”. “It’s a triple don’t do it for churches,” Ramsey said. Subscribers receive full access to the archives. But still, megachurch pastors who received the funds understand why it’s controversial. “I think most people understand that these are special circumstances during the pandemic, and so there wasn’t any major public outcry about this,” he said. According to Vaughn’s accounting, the church spent 93 percent of the money on payroll. Get the most recent headlines and stories from Christianity Today delivered to your inbox daily. get one year free. Willow Creek … President Michael Lindsay among 26 CCCU presidents urging an exemption clause in pending executive order. Died: Carman, Christian Showman Who Topped Charts with Triumphant Faith, Ravi Zacharias’s Denomination Revokes Ordination, RZIM Confirms Ravi Zacharias’s Sexual Misconduct, Canadian Pastor Jailed Over COVID-19 Violations, Ravi Zacharias’s Books Pulled by HarperCollins After RZIM Investigative Report, The Multiethnic Church Movement Hasn’t Lived up to Its Promise. He is a faith healer who preaches that faith can heal all illnesses. “This company is literally my promise to her that I'm never going to leave her again.”. 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