Money Changers In The Temple
"And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." John 2:13-17
Today (June 18, 2008), I visited a large number of web pages of different ministries and churches. I purposely chose some of the larger and more well known ministries and churches, figuring that they would have more extensive websites.
Sure enough, every website was large, well done, easy to navigate, and loaded with more sales tools and pleadings for donations than anything else. On several of the sites, the percentage of tapes, books, bibles, prayer clothes, miracle water and other such things for sale...excuse me, for a love offering of....$.... exceeded 60% of the visible page. On others, it was slightly under 40%...that is, until you clicked on a secondary page, in which case the percentage went off the charts. One particular page, offering a daily scripture, contained 3 lines of scripture, no embellishment or "devotion" to go with it, and 6 Bibles, 12 books by other ministers, 6 sets of tapes/cd's, and 4 different ways to donate.
Another site had a section on the landing page touting that they (the ministry) were "leading the way in financial accountability," and loudly proclaiming how many pages of documents had been turned over to a Senate committee investigating various televangelist's operations. Of course, this particular ministry has refused to join the ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability), the world's premier organization for holding ministries accountable for their finances, and has also refused to respond to the BBB Wise Giving Alliance requests for information.
On the one hand, I am fully aware of the fact that getting people to donate money is like pulling hen's teeth. It never ceases to amaze me how Christians, who are exhorted constantly throughout the New Testament to give freely, happily, and liberally, are among the first to be stingy, and in that stinginess to demand something in return. This attitude, of course, tends to lead ministries who are dependent upon donations to do their work to fall in to the trap of having to offer bigger and better incentives. And, of course, just like any business, they have to get more than what it costs to provide, otherwise there's nothing left over to go anywhere