How To Clean Up Christianity!


February, 2002

Dear Disciple of Jesus,

This is a teaching that needs to be written. It is "strong meat," so you might need to chew on it a little while. I am addressing the condition of Christianity in America. I recently read about another minister who had a high profile, multi-million dollar a year ministry who had an on-going immoral relationship and was stepping down from his position. I also have observed a church with well over a million dollar annual budget that is leading people into some of the most bizarre and unscriptural practices in the name of being "cutting edge" spiritually. And on my desk is a pile of a dozen fund-raising letters from a highly televised minister — that instead of teaching God’s Word, just pressures people for money every month with stuff in the envelopes like cornmeal packets, red cloth for healing, pennies showing through the envelope, with radical claims printed on the envelope which border on blasphemy. (It obviously has produced millions of dollars annually for this ministry.) What is going on, and what should you do about it?

Satan is aware of the fact that over 90% of all missionary activity in the world is financed in America. We have been the primary "factory and warehouse" for Christianity in the last two hundred years. The devil would do anything he could to "shut us down." Satan is willing to do major frontal assaults when he thinks it will work (like September 11th), but the slow and subtle approach has often been more effective for him over the centuries. There is an old story that if a frog is put in a pan of water, and the heat is raised very slowly, the frog will not notice — and will eventually boil to death. Satan is trying to slowly "boil to death" Christianity in America! Let me address some of the major "battle fronts."

The word "doctrine" sounds dry and theological, but this is actually the most important issue to Christianity. The only thing that separates you from a Moslem or Buddhist is what you believe. And God has provided "a more sure word of prophecy" by giving us the Bible (2nd Peter 1:19). Everything needs to be checked against this holy "yardstick" to see if it measures up. I pointed out to a minister not long ago that something he was practicing didn’t line up with a clear statement from the New Testament. His reply was, "Well, I guess God’s understanding of that verse is different from ours." If that is true, then John 3:16 could mean we should all become Mormons! One church I know of said its "revelations" were "cutting edge," but I think they were really "bleeding edge" because of the people they hurt spiritually. Anything that leads people away from studying and practicing the clear tenants of the Word of God is a deception from the enemy which will eventually lead to spiritual shipwreck. When there is a lot of emphasis on strange new words and concepts, books with information not found in the Bible, and other unique and rare "revelation" that you can only get from a special source (usually at a fee) — then you need to pull away from that church or ministry. It was curiosity, and the promise of hidden knowledge, that got Eve to eat the fruit! If only she had stopped hanging around that tree.

One priority of Christianity is sound spiritual information as discussed above. But another important priority is solid moral character. One of the big (and valid) criticisms of charismatic Christians is the lack of emphasis on integrity. I once worked for a minister that doubled the number of an important ministry statistic which made him look good. I brought him the facts on paper showing otherwise, and found myself not in his favor any longer. This kind of thing has happened far more times than the average Christian has any idea. The Bible says we are like "sheep" — I’ve been around sheep, and they’re not very wise. Jesus said we need to be as wise as a "serpent" — and yes, I looked that up in my concordance and it really means serpent! And as a counter-balance, our motives are supposed to be as harmless as a dove (Matthew 10:16).

An important solution to these problems is we need to do our financial giving carefully and prayerfully, not just because we always give to the same place. And sometimes, people have thrown away a dozen direct mail fund appeals — and now feel "guilty" that they have not given, so they write a check even if they know other ministries who are more deserving but pressure them less. And we should not give just because a ministry is on television and "looks" successful. I have been on television a half dozen times, so I am not against television. I just know that many ministries have a large staff of people who are in essence paid to make that minister "look successful". I am also not against direct mail, because it is a "highway" we can use to spread ministry. But Jesus said to judge with "righteous" judgment — not snap decisions because the ministry’s telemarketer calls and you want to get back to dinner! In Luke 8:15, Jesus defined what good soil is to sow into — those with a "good and honest heart." Jesus did not imply the size of the ministry was of any concern for your giving, it was the quality of the minister’s heart that matters! If more believers gave to those with "good and honest hearts," those ministries would soon grow very large, and the ministers with secretly poor character, impure motives like pride & greed, and/or gaudy marketing — would soon dry up and blow away and Christianity would be rescued in America.

Why don’t we have better people involved in ministry? The heart of the answer is an issue that has been "delicate" for way too long — pay scales for ministers. I had a ministry with over 30 employees contact me recently for help trying to fill an administrator position they had been unable to fill for 6 months. When I found out the pay was about $7 an hour, I wasn’t surprised they couldn’t fill it. That would be fair pay for flipping hamburgers, but why would God "punish" most talented and faithful Christians with a pay level like that? Christian ministries have had "brain drain" for too long, with the best and brightest having to work secular jobs to provide for their families. It was not God’s "sovereignty" that caused the spiritual Levites to go back to working the fields as farmers in Nehemiah 13:10-12. It was the disobedience of the Israelites — for which Nehemiah rebuked them severely. Some years ago, I did the math to calculate what I would have made over the last 20 years in the secular job I walked away from to answer the call to ministry, as compared to the salaries I actually made working in ministry. The difference was right at a million dollars. How many people have enough commitment to do that? With low pay scales, we have sometimes gotten people who should be flipping hamburgers instead running million dollar ministries (look out!). We shouldn’t put up financial "hurdles" in front of good potential Christian workers when the Bible says, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few" and "The laborer is worthy of his hire."

The bottom line is that the condition of Christianity in America is the responsibility of every Christian. There is nobody "minding the store" somehow making sure that everything is OK — because obviously everything is not OK. Whether you realize it or not, you spiritually vote every month with your feet and your checkbook. Where you attend and what you do financially is your monthly "election" that keeps — or removes — those "in office" in Christianity. As a committed Christian, you must care. There is no other moral alternative, and the continuance of real Christianity depends on you. You must:

1) accept personal responsibility for where you attend,

2) know the character and soundness of the ministries you receive from, and

3) be faithful, wise, and generous financially to see that the needs are met of those you know are "good and honest" that minister to you.

What you feed grows, and what you starve will diminish. God does not want the condition of Christianity in America to stay in the condition it currently is. It is our job to do something about it. What we loose on earth will be loosed, and what we bind will be bound.

Laboring for Real Christianity,

Dale & Judi Leander


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