The church gets a bad rap. “What do churches do for the community: they’re basically country clubs.” “Preachers are just getting rich from the poor.” “It’s all a scam.” Although the way the Adventist Church system is set up prevents pastors from getting rich from their congregations, our church—along with other denominations—gets painted with the same brush as the few high-profile megachurches with ultra-rich ministers that have private jets and mansions. The perception that pastors line their pockets by exploiting the generosity of the poor parishioners is a pervasive stereotype despite the fact that upwards of 95% of churches are small and modest—some are even struggling. The numeric reality does not support the belief. But the unscrupulous acts of a few allow the undue generalization to persist. It’s not uncommon to hear people claim that church and faith often harm more than they help the community. So, it’s understandable that churches want to push back on that.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11923