How much does it cost to preach the gospel to the world? One televangelist will argue that the exact price is $65 million...and that is just the cost of the private jet without fuel. What?!
Creflo Dollar, the founder and lead pastor of World Changers Church International, is campaigning to raise money for a private jet. He has a good reason to be on the market for a new plane; Dollar and his crew were recently involved in a near-tragedy when one of the engines failed in the televangelist’s current jet, a 1984 model. The expert pilot was able to land the aircraft safely, and there were no injuries in the incident.
The fact that Dollar needs a new jet does not have people riled, it’s the one he picked out.
According to Bloomberg, the Gulfstream G650 is not just any plane, but “the holy grail of private jets.” The G650, which holds between 11 and 18 passengers, can reach speeds of 610 mph and has a 7,000 mile range before needing fuel. Millionaires have been put on a waiting list to get one...So it seems like just the aircraft a pastor needs to spread the Word, right?
Well, most people don’t seem to think so.
Dollar (yes, that is his real name) has been harshly criticized for his fundraising campaign, which he calls Project G650. The original fundraising page asked 200,000 people to donate $300 each. The problem is Dollar lives in College Park, Georgia, where the average household income is barely over $29,000. At the same time, the pastor’s net worth is estimated over $27 million.
Author and activist Shane Claiborne wrote on Twitter, “Just a thought: If your pastor's last name is "Dollar" and makes 10 times more than you...Don't give him your money.”
We may be comparing apples to oranges here, but I can’t help but think of German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the so-called “Bishop of Bling,” who made headlines last year for spending $43 million renovating his Limburg mansion...which included a $300,000 fish tank, $917,000 garden, and $2.38 million bronze window frames. Pope Francis, who calls leaders of the church to live humbly, has since accepted Tebartz-van Elst’s resignation from his post.
Will church members and supporters call Dollar out for his blatant overspending? It is hard to say, but we do know the original donation page for Project G650 has been pulled from the internet. However, it is still possible for supporter to select “Project G650” under the ministry’s overall donation website.
For questions about money, I turn to the Bible. In Matthew 25:31-46, we read the familiar story about the Lord separating people as a shepherd would separate sheep and goats. I'm going to focus in on verses 34-40, the part of the story when the Lord addresses the righteous.
Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Let’s read that again. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine…” The least. The poorest of the poor and the most hopeless of the world. Is Dollar helping “the least?” Undeniably, yes. The pastor travels the world sharing Jesus Christ with people who do not know him. Does he need a $65 million jet to do the Lord’s work? No, he doesn’t.
Today, I will pray for Dollar’s heart to be changed and to recognize what he truly needs to share the Truth.
Do you think Pastor Dollar’s $65 million jet is a reasonable request? What is truly needed to share the gospel with the world?
Carrie Dedrick is the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com.