“Shun, as you would the plague, a cleric who from being poor has become wealthy, or who, from being nobody has become a celebrity.”
We will be exploring a number of issues with Fellowship Church this week. Stay tuned.
Well, I thought I had seen it all. TWW has written extensively about the abuses of the prosperity gospel. We have discussed, at length, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar and others who live rich lifestyles, while occasionally pretending to help the sick, the lost and the letdown. Yesterday, however, I saw a supposed sermon that absolutely turned my stomach. Tom Rich, of the excellent and highly recommended blog, FBC Jax Watchdog, once again earns the most honorable title of “The Dog” for bringing this video to light.
This video is of a sermon given by Ed Young Jr. on 10/10/10 in which he demands that his church members give him (whoops, I mean give the “church”) 10% of their gross income. (how clever and "Biblical"to tie it into the date). My guess is that our readers have never seen anything quite like this as well. In this video, Ed insists that his people give the church their routing numbers so the church can take out their money for them.Note the check on the background screen.
I was both a member of this church and also a neighbor and friendly with the Youngs. Our children played together. As I have said before, Ed is charming and quite friendly. However, there is a dark side that becomes evident over time. Ed was an effective self-promoter and was fixated on raising money. His plans were always grandiose-build the biggest church, have the local “A” list celebrities attend his church and pal around with rich and famous. He even was able to get people to give him all sorts of things like cars and fancy clothes for the wife.His church, which is located in the flight path, to DFW airport even has the web address painted on the roof so that people on descending planes can dial him up.
Folks, Ed has been in a bit of a pickle recently. The local television media have exposed his excessive lifestyle. He owns a 10,000square foot house on a lake in Dallas (remember-there is precious little water in Dallas and his house sits on one of the few lakes). He owns a large condo in Miami which is worth according to some $1,000,000. Also, unbeknownst , until recently, to most of his church, he has a private leased jet which he uses to visit his satellite in Miami and take trips around the world to “serve God.” Here is a link to the Museum of Idolatry that gives a list of his "assets." I particularly love his $240,000 yearly "parsonage" allowance. Honey, that ain't no parsonage I've ever seen.
In spite of this embarrassing expose last February, he seems bent on conducting business as usual. Actually, he seems to have escalated in his self aggrandizing focus. One indication of this is a rap video, which was to advertise his coming appearance at Hillsong in Australia. Watch the video and note carefully what he is wearing.
The large, dollar sign necklace is unavoidable. It is hanging, front and center, over his chest. That causes this nurse to be concerned for his emotional and spiritual health and it should be cause for concern for both his family and church members. Is Ed doing this to say, “shove it,” to his critics? If so, he is not exhibiting the Scriptural admonition to turn the other cheek. If he simply does not understand how this can be misunderstood, then he has no business being the pulpit. It shows a profound lack of grace,intelligence and introspection. Where is his wife, Lisa? Are there no advisors to stop him? Are the people in his church confused and misled?
Then, several months later, he does a sermon in which he has a check on the overhead screen with the bank routing number circled. He claims, in another sermon, that he is helping to insure that his people give of their first fruits so they will be blessed as he is. Does that mean everyone gets a plane, Ed?
Let’s take a look at his first fruits jive. In the Old Testament, God has a covenant with the Jewish people. I like to call it an “If…then” promise. God told his people that IF they obeyed His commandments THEN He would send the rain and the crops would grow. Israel, during this period of time, was functioning as a theocracy. The Israelites were commanded to bring the first fruits that grew in the new harvest and give it to God. This was to show that they trusted God to fulfill His end of the bargain. This meant they believed God would send the rains and they would have abundant crops. It is important to note that this was the Old Covenant.
Today, we are not functioning under a theocracy. We have the New Covenant, which is based on grace.There is no promise that, if we give God the first 10% of our crops, He will promise to make sure we will not have drought or other calamities. We are no longer living a works based faith. In fact, many members of the early church, awesome Christians who shared everything they had, were martyred for their faith. Very few of them lived in mansions and drove chariots from Mercedes.Although it is expected that we will give to the church and ministry, the “first fruit” command is no longer in play. In fact, Ed could be misusing this to “guilt” the people of his congregation since he claims that in order to be blessed, you must first give. Does this mean if you lose your job and you get sick, you must be stealing from God? That is an outright LIE.
He then points to his own life as an example of how God gives when a person tithes. Naughty, naughty, Ed. This "giving to get stuff" is not in the New Testament and you know it. You’ve been spending too much time with your buddy, that theological master, the toothsome Joel Osteen. And, by the way, folks, do you really think that Ed should be the example of God’s blessing? He has all sorts of corporations and trusts "protecting" his money. He will not tell you, the church, how much he makes. There are allegations that he has sold the church membership list for coinage. So this is an example of open and honest blessings? Not in my book! And he says this is what God did for him? Really? It seems rather manmade to me. Didn’t Denny Brewer help him with the Palmetto Trust stuff? Sounds a little more Wall Street than the Damascus Road to me.
He states that one must give an entire 10% of gross income to the local church. He says you cannot give this to a para-church ministry, a missionary, a Christian school, etc. You must give it all to his church if you are a member there. Oh, really? Sound like Ed has some things he wants you all to fund. Ask him for a Bible verse to support this one.
I would caution all members of The Fellowship Church-Grapevine, Plano and Miami :
1.Be very, very careful in releasing your routing number to anyone. If you want to give, just write a check each week.
2.Ask Ed to give you his routing number and access to his checking account. Then you could remove his gross tithe for him. If he wants you to trust him, he should trust you, shouldn’t he? Oh, why don’t you ask him about his salary while you are at it? Rumor has it that one pastor’s wife is driving around in serious style these days. If you have given him the number and realize it was a mistake, you can and should call the church, cancel the automatic withdrawal and call your bank.
3.There is absolutely nothing unBiblical in giving money to a missionary or a para-church organization. See how your pastor lives and compare that to the needs that you see in the world. There are Christians who have ministries reaching out to sex slaves in third world countries, to African villages without wells, and to bring the Gospel to the far reaches of China. There are Christian schools that serve the poor and are in need of books and scholarship money. There are wonderful rescue missions in the poor areas of Dallas.
4. It is highly out of the ordinary to have a pastor do a sermon about bank routing numbers. Ask questions. Why is he so concerned? Investigate other churches to see how they raise funds. There are some churches that rarely mention money and trust God to provide. Does God really need Ed to be discussing routing numbers during church? Could this be coercive? Do you feel guilty if you don’t give him your number?
5. There is no relation to being a “man” and giving Ed your routing number. In fact, a real man like Ed should be able to trust God to provide without resorting to extreme and questionable tactics to raise money.
6. Did you know that Fellowship is part of the Southern Baptist Convention? I know he doesn’t like to talk about it. Al Mohler, President of SBTS, recently said, during the Eddie Long scandal, that it is good to be part of denominations because denominations police their churches. “Hey Al, time to do a little policing, wouldn’t you say?”
7. When I attended Fellowship, Ed would not bring the Bible into the pulpit because he said the Bible turned off the seekers. If he was willing to compromise on that, could he be willing to compromise on other things? He also said, in the Dallas Morning News, that he didn’t like to discuss doctrine because it confuses people. Be very, very wary of this. He may not want you to learn orthodox doctrine because you might realize he is going “off reservation.”
8. Did you know that the Fellowship Church was its own mission? Years ago, Ed said that we shouldn’t be giving money to missions because Fellowship was itself a mission church. You know, the church with the Mercedes parked outside. Meanwhile a world is dying…Don't forget about the admonition of getting your rewards in this world.It doesn't portend well for the next.
9. Have you been told you must not gossip or say anything negative about your pastor? Please read our series on spiritual abuse. Here is a link to one called “Shhh, Don’t Talk.” This is a control mechanism to keep you from asking legitimate questions and voicing appropriate concerns and could be considered spiritiually abusive.
10. I believe that Ed is exhibiting signs of going off the deep end and needs help. If there are any elders in that church who want to be real men, help your pastor. His behavior appears to be escalating as evidenced by both videos.
Finally, TWW has received information that says the Fellowship Church has lost thousands of members. Some estimates have attendance under 10,000 which would mean a drop of 50%. If this is true, please take this as a sign that there are deep- rooted problems. The witness of your church and leadership is at stake. Outside of your own circles, this stuff appears outrageous and abnormal. Think, pray, and act.