The Kansas City Star reported this week that…
Franklin Graham earns $622,000 as the head of Samaritan’s Purse and $258,000 as CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, a recent newspaper story revealed. … Franklin Graham’s annual compensation of $880,000, revealed in a Charlotte Observer story, has some worrying that too many top Christian nonprofit leaders as well as pastors are seeing themselves as CEOs instead of as God’s servants. Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, is head of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief agency based in Boone, N.C.
CEOs at the top 50 U.S. charities, including Samaritan’s Purse, earn in the $350,000 to $450,000 range, which makes Graham’s $622,000 salary from his aid organization alone about 40 percent to 50 percent higher than average, according to a Forbes story. He receives the rest of his $258,000 compensation as CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
By contrast, pastor salaries at the nation’s biggest Christian churches are much lower for all but a select number. Only 3 percent of churches with more than 1,600 people in attendance pay senior pastors more than $300,000, said Warren Bird, research director at Leadership Network. At the other extreme, a recent study by the National Association of Church Business Administration found that the average American pastor with a congregation of 300 people earns a salary of less than $28,000 a year.
In a 2011 comparison of megachurch pastors’ salaries, two senior pastors made $1 million and $1.1 million. Others were a fourth to less than half of that. Compensation in the mid- to high six figures “is on the generous side for anyone who is asking for other people’s money,” the professor emeritus [Grant Wacker] at Duke Divinity school said a bit wryly. “It’s eyebrow-raising.”
Mainstream evangelicals generally expect money they give to be used frugally, Wacker said. Big salaries come with questions.
Go to the link to read the full story.
First, let’s look at what the Bible says about rich people:
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)
Why is it so hard for a rich person to enter heaven? What is the meaning of this verse? The short answer is that fleshly man tends to make Mammon his god. Here is Gill with a more lengthy answer.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
And again I say unto you,…. After the apostles had discovered their astonishment at the above expression, about the difficulty of a rich man entering into the kingdom of heaven; when they expected that, in a short time, all the rich and great men of the nation would espouse the interest of the Messiah, and acknowledge him as a temporal king, and add to the grandeur of his state and kingdom; and after he had in a mild and gentle manner, calling them “children”, explained himself of such, that trusted in uncertain riches, served mammon, made these their gods, and placed their hope and happiness in them; in order to strengthen and confirm what he had before asserted, and to assure, in the strongest manner, the very great difficulty, and seeming impossibility, of rich men becoming followers of Christ here, or companions with him hereafter, he expresses himself in this proverbial way:
it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God: thus, when the Jews would express anything that was rare and unusual, difficult and impossible, they used a like saying with this.
So, is it bad to be rich?
No, several standout people in the Bible were exceedingly wealthy, all at the grace and providential plan of God. God told Abram in Genesis 17:6 that He planned to make Abraham exceedingly fruitful and nations and kings would come from him. Solomon was the richest king that ever lived (2 Chronicles 1:11-12). Job was wealthy, twice. Joseph of Arimathea was rich. We can assume Lydia was rich, she was a seller of purple, a luxury item only the very wealthy traded in, and she had a large house and servants. So no, being rich isn’t the issue. The LOVE of wealth is. (1 Tim 6:10).
So what kind of salary should pastors receive?
Well Graham’s salary compared to other pastors is a bit of apples to oranges. He doesn’t serve one flock within 4 walls of a particular church. He is more of a CEO of two corporations, The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and Samaritan’s Purse. The BGEA puts on revival crusades (or Festivals, as Franklin prefers to call them) for the alleged purpose of gaining converts. Samaritan’s Purse is a missionary/aid organization. For example, when the terrible 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal and Mt Everest bounced and caused a landslide that killed many mountaineers, 9000 civilians, as well as terrible damage to Kathmandu, Samaritan’s Purse was on scene almost immediately.
However, in comparing even secular CEO salaries of Christian Graham’s, nearly a million dollars is exorbitant. As a matter of fact, he was called out for his excessive BGEA salary in 2010, so he stopped drawing one. That lasted a year. In 2011 he began drawing a salary again.
Christians are to be wise stewards of the money and resources God gives us. So when you take it all in, it doesn’t look good. If Graham’s BGEA salary was an issue and he made a public display of renouncing it, why did he quietly begin drawing it again less than a year later? Why are both salaries combined so much higher than similar secular counterparts?
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
There is one more thing to keep in mind regarding pastor salaries. As I said above, being wealthy is not in itself an indictment. It’s a person’s motivation for getting all this money. Do they shepherd their God-given finances wisely? Or do they simply accumulate for the sake of personal gain?
Finally, false teachers have a simple motivation: money. They “suppose that godliness” (1 Timothy 6:5, used sarcastically of their false piety) will bring them such gain. Unlike Paul, they cannot say, “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes” (Acts 20:33). Put simply, they are not “free from the love of money” (1 Timothy 3:3). ~MacArthur “The Pathology of False Teachers“.
Franklin Graham is a false teacher. He is not Christian. Read this and see of you still think he is after you’re done. In His crusades, most recently last year’s Pittsburgh Three Rivers Festival, Graham proposed a “new evangelization” that included Catholics, located his venue deliberately next to a Catholic church so that seekers could be counseled there, and invited the city’s Catholic Bishop to perform the opening prayer on the stage. If a person has the Holy Spirit in them, they understand that Catholics need evangelizing because they are lost, not partnering with them as if they were Christians.
Here is the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh on the July 2014 Three Rivers BGEA Festival–
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association doesn’t steer converts into or out of any particular Christian tradition, but reconnects them with one to which they have a tie. Those who identify themselves as Catholic will be referred to a Catholic parish for follow-up.
Sadly, when one puts together the fruit one sees from Graham, fruit that is actually thorns in the form of making no distinction between Christian and Catholic, brambles that include exorbitant salaries, and weeds that for a show make a renunciation of a salary only to take it up again a year later…one sees that falsity is the watchword. One can only hope that some one’s prayers for Franklin Graham will be part of God’s process of converting Franklin’s hard heart of stone into one of soft love for the true Jesus Christ.
Otherwise, Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)