Monday, we wrote about the Lakewood Church that last was robbed of $600,000, revealing a window glimpse of how much the church takes in weekly, monthly and yearly as the donation plate is passed around from week to week. $32 million is a lot of money, but with all the celebrity members and star power it isn't too much of a surprise that the donation basket is full. Or is it? NewsMax confirmed the $32 million figure was correct on Tuesday morning, after doing their own "back-of-the-napkin math."
The robbery at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church gave everyone a glimpse at how much cash this religious organizations is bringing in. The headlines seems shocking, but as readers have pointed out there are many ministries and community services supported with the weekly stipend. It is not really out of line for the churches expenses. And the pastor does not draw a salary from the church.
Now looking closer, the original figure of the theft loss for one week of 600,000 is not that impressive when adjusted for the personal giver. With approximately 50,000 people attending weekly, the average loss was roughly $12 bucks per person. That does not seem like a lot weekly, but adds up over the year. In the past Protestant giving is usually $20 or more in the offering plate and often about two times the annual giving that is shown by the calculations made after the Lakewood Church tithing theft.
How much is it worth to have peace, joy and happiness preached and ease that stressed out mind? A $15 donation is shockingly low when you consider the price of gas, electricity, water, coffee and breath freshening mints. At the beginning of the recession in 2008, ten to twenty bucks might pass muster, but what about today when prices are so much higher to minister to the homeless, the underemployed, the children and send money to missionaries? Just think, it costs far more than that to sit in a counselor's office for one hour, receiving help in coping with problems.
The alternative way of figuring is that the church membership of 143,000 lost a little under four bucks each. That way of figuring does not mesh well with charitable giving and actually would make the average member look like they were being stingy with God.
Of course, this trend was reported also in last year when Sojouners noted that donations are down to depression era levels. The article paraphrased Ronsvalle: "Churches and their members need to realize that if 100 million Christians gave an extra $50 a year, child deaths could be drastically reduced across the world."
Yesterday, people were shocked at how much the church brought in via the weekly offering basket. More money than many pastors and missionaries who devote their lives to local churches and preach about God will ever see in their lifetime. But, they are all God's children and while Lakewood church has some celebrity backing, today we have to wonder if the people are giving enough? Are they giving enough at Lakewood, and are they giving enough at your local church?