One of the arguments I often hear in favor of megachurches is that they offer so much more than a small church can. They have programs for every age and with all of the tithe money, they can create larger events involving more people for a larger impact. If that is true, then why charge for these events? Why not take in all of that money and then pay to give away the Gospel?
Let me take Gateway Church as a case in point.
Pizza is Extra at Gateway
Gateway Church took in about $139-million in 2016. By any measure, that is a substantial level of giving by those who believe in church. However, Gateway’s policy is to charge a fee to youth group members for their pizza at youth meetings. Members are asked to give more money to help students who can’t pay the fee. I don’t understand this from a church which takes in $139-million.
Entertainment is Extra at Gateway
Currently, Gateway Church is putting on Godspell as their summer musical production. However, tithing isn’t enough to get you a ticket. You have to pay from $10 to $26 for admission to the church to see the play.
In addition to giving your creative members something to do, this could be viewed as a community outreach. However, why couldn’t this be free to the public? Isn’t that what the funds are supposed to go for? Outreach?
There is another show I will mention but I do so not knowing if the show is a Gateway event or a Michael Jr. event (what does “organized by Gateway Church” mean?). Michael Jr. is a professional comedian who attends Gateway Church. He is planning a show at the church in September with admission prices ranging from $20 to $35. He also has some kind of formal relationship with the church and has given performances for free in the past. Perhaps, Gateway’s financial problems are worse than they are letting on.
If I was a giving unit at Gateway, I would wonder what is up. The church has funds to sponsor an inaugural gala but not a summer musical or pizza for youth group kids. I suppose the gala is one of those things that a small church can’t do, but then I don’t understand why any church should do that.
Consider the title an open question. Readers, let me know what I am missing. Perhaps Gateway is wisely spending the funds on lots of ministry. If so, it would be good for Gateway to open the books and let the members know where the funds are going. Mars Hill Church resisted that until the bitter end. It would be a shame if Gateway failed to learn from that situation.
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Recall that Gateway Church founding pastor Robert Morris told his congregation two weeks ago that God wanted him to break the annual churchwide fast in order to eat the food served at Donald Trump’s inauguration. According to video served up by the Family Research Council, Morris did more than attend the festivities, he helped sponsor them. Gateway Church was one of nine sponsors of the Faith, Freedom and Future inaugural ball hosted by FRC’s Tony Perkins (Gateway Church, the only church involved, is circled in red below) in celebration of Donald Trump’s victory.
Tony Perkins gave a shout-out to each sponsor.
I don’t know what it cost to sponsor the formal affair but, in my opinion, that money could have gone to a more important purpose.
Like most youth groups, Gateway Church serves food during youth meetings. For adolescents, food is a draw since they always seem to be hungry. At the same time, many such groups attract teens who might not eat well at home. At one time, like most churches I know, Gateway Church served food at no cost to the youth group attenders. Now, to help “steward” church funds, teens have to pay $2 for their pizza. Since teens have to pay, this means some kids can’t eat because they really can’t afford it. Thus, Gateway Church is actually soliciting church members for donations to help buy pizza for needy youth group kids. This news comes from one of Gateway’s youth pastors:
In this season, 60% of students showing up on Wednesday nights at Gateway NRH come from families who do not attend Gateway or another church. We’re reaching our community!
We’ve served pizza on these evenings for many years, not for hype, but to be helpful. To ensure we steward our budget well as we grow, we’ve started charging $2 per plate (two slices of pizza, desert and a bottle of water).
$2 a week seems small to most of us, but it is not possible for some families. I’m okay with giving “free” pizza to those in need, but there’s little lasting value in a freebee.
A student hearing, “Somebody at Gateway cared enough to buy this FOR YOU” is way more meaningful than, “Just take this; it’s free tonight.”
If you would like to purchase one or more pizza tickets for us to bless students with, email us at studentsNRH@gatewaypeople and we’ll send you instructions for either a cash or card purchase.
I know one way Gateway could “steward” the budget better.
It seems to me that pizza for needy kids should be easy for a church that can afford to co-sponsor a presidential gala. Tickets sold for $450/person and rooms at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill (where the ball was held) were $1000/night with a four night minimum. This was no pizza party.
According to the youth pastor, a donation to the pizza fund shows caring for those needy students. What does it show that Gateway’s leaders lavishly spend tithes and offerings to celebrate a Trump victory but can’t spring for pizza?
C’mon Gateway, your donors have already given their tithes and offerings. Can’t the kids have some pizza on the House of God?