Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What is truth, part II- Church life been very, very good to me

From the Lorain Morning Journal, 4/10/2005:

"Thousands of individuals have been brought to their knees by a plague infecting Lorain County for the last six years, a contagion feeding on greed and naivete as it slowly spread from one trusting person to the next....
"At one point, at least three different investment and securities schemes were trolling for victims in Lorain County all at the same time. Two of them were targeting members of the same churches, and on at least one occasion the operators were actually working together....

"No institution has been rocked as hard as the Church of the Open Door in Elyria, ground zero for the Haven Equity investment account of McNaughton into which $23 million has disappeared, according to U.S. and Canadian investigators. McNaughton said in a deposition that about half of the money that flowed into Haven Equity came from the church's members, and now that some of them are suing Open Door to recover their losses the church's leaders are circling the wagons. Those who sued say they have found themselves ostracized and on the outside, while McNaughton is still welcome. He and his family attend services regularly, and they were sitting in the balcony on a recent Sunday morning when the Rev. Jim Mindling, the senior pastor, advised the congregation not to talk about ''the ongoing financial misfortunes'' with outsiders.

"McNaughton said in his deposition that he stepped aside as a youth ministry worker at the church when the SEC stepped in, but he said his job is being held open for him and he is confident he will be returning. He also revealed in the deposition that he wrote checks on the Haven Equity account for an estimated $300,000 in contributions to the church and for interest payments to church leaders for their own investments, including former pastor David Walls, who was given a bonus rate of return."

Well, the-e-e-re's a surprise. Maybe, just maybe, the pastor of the largest church in Lorain County should suggest to this guy that he has some repenting to do. But then they certainly don't want to have to risk having to return that $300,000. And enough with circling the wagons. No wonder people think the church has something to hide.

Let's move on:

"Bonus rates of return for church leaders was an offer that McNaughton didn't restrict to Open Door. The Rev. Greg Ball, associate pastor at Church on the North Coast in Lorain, has testified that he gave McNaughton $317,000 after being guaranteed a 40 percent return for the first six months. North Coast's pastor, the Rev. Louis Kayatin, confirmed recently that he and his wife had invested their entire retirement savings with McNaughton. Like many of the others, Kayatin said he eventually lost everything."

Two thoughts here. First, Greg Ball is the youth minister at CNC. Is youth ministry that lucrative that he had $317,000 burning a hole in his pocket? And I feel sorry for Pastor Kayatin- he has been pastor at CNC for 25 years, and when I attended church there his ministry meant a lot to me. I still listen to his messages via their podcast. But the emphasis on a prosperity gospel will eventually come back to bite you in the a$$. Pastor Kayatin, you are an intelligent man. Why in the world would you fall for something like this?

What is with the emphasis on financial gain within the world of Christendom? I have no issues with preparing for retirement- that is wise stewardship of your finances and a service to your family. But Greg Ball makes no mention of a retirement fund- he was itching to get a 40% return on his investment. I was at a service once where he gavce a short talk before taking up the offering. The shtick was simple- give so you can get a return. He quoted Proverbs 13:22- "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous", and said that he didn't want the chump change of the sinner, he wanted the sinner's wealth, so he would be giving abundantly that night and he hoped we would do the same. Well of course he could give abundantly- he has $317,000 lying around his house. Why wasn't he reading Deuteronomy 8:18? "And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day." Boy, that $317,000 could have established a good chunk of the covenant....

Someone is immediately going to insist that I am jealous. If I had a cut of that money I wouldn't be writing this. There might be something to that. Yeah, I am slightly envious of people who are doing well. But I am also sick to death of the fact that the world looks down upon the church of Jesus Christ and a lot of times it is our own fault.

Unfortunately, part III of this ongoing series will likely appear sooner than later.


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