Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mega-church, Mega-bucks, yuck!

This is the church I was talking about in my post about New Life Church in Colorado, when I said it was very similar to one back home, a mega-church. For those outside of Minnesota, this is another prosperity church, one that a local paper did a front page article on called The Kingdom and Power of Mac Hammond.

The Name of the church is Living Word Christian Center, and the pastor is Mac Hammond. I know this paper is liberal and secular, but that doesn't make their observations incorrect. In my opinion, the pastor of whom they speak has damaged his Christian testimony. I just can't believe it's possible to collect money from people given for ministry, and spend it on planes, condos, pools, expensive clothes, etc. etc. and be focused on spiritual things, on the needs of people. It is also wrong to have spent money given for ministry on such things.

Having been in the church for a while, I felt my own needs were squelched by the constant pleas for money. I felt the Holy Spirit was insulted by this. You can't "serve God and mammon". You can't mix the two. Sure, good things are being done. But how much more good could be done with all the money spent on all the lavish things and all the energy spent as well on all the vain concerns.

Jim Bakker has written about this and tried to warn us in his books since he was imprisoned, even though he has been a little loopy himself (Prosperity and the Coming Apocalypse). Oh that such ministries would listen.

But here is a sound teacher I've found on the web - Andy in California, just a humble blogger, a godly man who writes about this on his blog A Mile From the Beach: on this post on riches.

The ministry the rich need is what Jesus gave to the rich man: he told him one thing he lacks is to sell what he has and to give it to the poor. The rich don't need to have a rich preacher get chummy with them and tell them how great it is to be rich - "get richer!"

And if you get rich by asking large crowds for money all the time, or by asking for money on TV, that's no miracle. The pastor isn't helping the average person.

I will say that I did hear good teaching while at the church about faith and healing, and there were people who talked about amazing miracles of healing there. But there was an attitude that if you didn't get healed that you didn't have enough faith, just like if you didn't have enough money you were failing in the prosperity area as well.

In general, the church was too big, and it was hard to find a niche within it, so I went seeking a smaller church and did.

October 30, 2009: For some time now I've been wanting to go to Living Word, especially to the young adult service on some Sunday night that they started a while ago. I want to go because I know that there is a strong emphasis on healing and a positive, faith-filled atmosphere.

I am changing my attitude and position towards this church. I want to express how I appreciate so many things about it. Despite the concerns expressed above, Mac Hammond is a brother in Christ, subject to the same scrutiny and persecution as the rest of the body of Christ and I know I must not make division. I know I must support him and stand with him.

His church does many good things in service to Christ and for the welfare of people, and I want to acknowledge that.


Anonymous said...

I am really surprised of your tone as one who is a Pastor. What do these scriptures mean to you? Luke 6:37-38 (NLT) "Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven. [38] If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you."

What do you honestly know about Pastor Mac Hammond? Have you sat under his ministry more than once to honestly know what he teaches? Did you know that some years ago his church gave their entire building fund, over a million dollars away one year to help four or five other churches pay off their building funds? Did you know that the church has paid for and given hundreds of meals in the community directed to people given them by the city and police? Did you know they support a local ministry that helps keep pregnant teens from getting abortions and instead helping them keep their babies? Did you know his church helps support a local teen center in the community called that works with teens that families can no longer deal with? Did you know that the church helps support a local ministry that helps handicapped children ride horseback to help them develop? Did you know that the church subsidizes the largest night club (Christian) in Minneapolis to help people get saved, and to give church kids from the entire community of Minneapolis from all churches have a place to fellowship with other Christians? Did you know that his church helped build a church in Indonesia? Did you know that his church has sent over 600,000 to feed poor children and people in Israel devastated from the bombing and terrorism? Do you know that short term mission’s teams and evangelism teams have traveled over the United States and many nations of the world to help others know Christ and minister good works and have helped over 500,000 people to come to know Jesus?
Did you know this list could go on for pages? Did you know that he has been stable blessing in their community for over 26 years? Did you know that whenever he preaches about God wanting to bring increase to the lives of Christians, he always qualifies it with the purpose of using what God blesses people with to help and serve others?
What do you really know about Pastor Mac Hammond other than what you have read? To judge without knowing is ignorant, critical, and devise working to tear down the body of Christ rather than build it up. It’s contrary to the Christian walk I've learned from the Bible.

Gabrielle Eden said...

Didn't you read what I said? I was wounded by my own experience of being at the church for a period of time. I was wounded by the constant pleas for money. I am happy for all the "good deeds." But you don't understand, that for one person like myself, just one little soul who comes into a big church, and sitting under the ministry, that my soul was parched and seeking to be fed, and the material nature of the ministry left me hungry and thirsty. This is my own experience, my own view on prosperity teaching. Can't you respect that?

Gabrielle Eden said...

Also, I am not a pastor, where did that come from? Also, I am not "judging" I am making a value judgment about what I perceive as right and wrong, something that we are supposed to do, right?

Gabrielle Eden said...

Also, "anonymous", it amazes me how people come on here who get strident and critical always are cowardly and anonymous, never revealing their identity. You didn't read my post. I didn't say much about Mac Hammond, but I did say I had gone to the church for a while, so you didn't read it, and that should be enough for you - that my own experience and my own opinion on that kind of ministry is what I have put forth - that I am wounded by the materialism, despite all of the good deeds.

There are huge crowds coming and going, chandeliers, the lights, the high finance ministry, but I felt neglected. You can't argue with my own observations, no matter how impressed you are with this ministry, and all its accomplishments.

Gabrielle Eden said...

Also, anonymous, just wondering. Why are you passionate about Mac Hammond more than about Jesus Christ?

Kev said...

Gab: If Mac Hammond has all those things you spoke of... then I would say it is a little bit too much.

anonymous: Why are you hiding?

So what if the "church" gives away a lot of money. That doesn't mean the church preaches the right message during the service.

Now it's Judgement time:

Mac Hammond - 2 planes, high rise condos, luxury cars, etc.

Jesus - a donkey and a cross.

Andy said...

Gabrielle - Good post, and thanks for sharing this. No doubt there certainly has been some good that this church has done for the community, as Pastor Gregory Boyd mentions in the Star Tribune article, but this kind of wealth building I find to be troubling.

"I think it's important that I not be embarrassed about the increase the Lord does bring me," Hammond said. "One of the things I think has kept Christianity from being as effective as it could be is the idea that the clergy has to be poor. The Bible doesn't say that."

No, the Bible doesn't say that clergy has to be poor, but there are countless Scripture, including Jesus' own words, about the dangers of wealth building on Matthew 6:24: 24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

As to Anonymous, you are right that we should not judge, however, Scripture is also clear that we should "gently restore" those who have fallen (Galatians 6) - but with a caveat, that we should be careful lest we fall into that same sin.

Gabrielle, clearly you're not someone who subscribes to the prosperity Gospel, and neither do I, so I find that it is appropriate to point out these kind of discrepancies regarding Scripture, because these folks are part of the larger Christian community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer speaks to this in his book "Living Together" and in "The Cost of Discipleship", that while we shouldn't judge, when we see other Christian brothers and sisters falter we need to point out the errors of their ways in love and humility (Mind you, this does not apply to those OUTSIDE the Christian community).

But enough from me...good writing, Gabrielle.

David said...


I am happy that you were able to stick to the true focus of your post. Thanks for not fighting with the anonymous commenter. Thanks for reiterating your stance, a valid observation, and a very deep truth.

Its the tactic of the devil to stir up strife. We all need to learn to remain on the platform of truth and not to be pulled off of it in self-defensiveness toward Satan's trained fighters. The battle is not ours, but the Lord's.
Let us remain at peace and in humility.

You are clothed with the Son, with a crown of 12 stars on your head.
Thanks again, sister.

laurawegener said...

Hi everyone -
Lots of interesting comments! I like that the general tone is helping each other, not hurting each other.

I do want to apologize that you didn't feel welcome at Living Word. I've been a part of Living Word for a long time and absolutely love it. I do know that the heart of the church is to make people feel welcome. They try extremely hard to do it through outreaches or Small Groups and Bible studies of 10-12 people or so, so it's extremely unfortunate you didn't feel welcomed.

And you know what? That's totally okay if you prefer a smaller church. A good idea wherever you go, small or big, is to get involved in a ministry or small group or Bible study, because no matter how big the church is, being involved helps church feel like home.

Blessings on your day!
Laura :-)

Gabrielle Eden said...

Thanks so much, Laura. I want to try to put forth a positive message now about the church, and not just a negative one.

There are so many good things at that church, and YOU are one of them.

God bless you!

(One of these days I'm going to check out the Sunday night young adult worship)