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DONOR ALERTS ISSUED BY MINISTRY WATCH

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Sponsored link:


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About Ministry Watch:

Ministry Watch is a program of Wall Watchers. The latter is an Evangelical Christian group whose purpose is to supply the Evangelical community with information "that will lead to increased giving and enhanced ministry accountability." 1

Ministry Watch was started in the early 1990s when a married couple, Howard and Carolynn Leonard conceived of the idea of starting a Christian ministry to improve "levels of disclosure and accountability to Christian ministries." 2 They now have a database of over 500 ministries. Their belief is that supplying potential donors with credible analyses of individual charitable organizations will lead to larger donations by donors and greater accountability by the charities.

For each ministry that they investigate, they supply:

bulletA description of the its purpose .
bulletAn efficiency rating, of from one to five stars.
bulletAn overall rank of efficiency: a measure of where the charity rates within the entire Ministry Watch database and within the charity's sector. (e.g. Christian growth, Evangelism, Leadership training, Radio/TV stations, etc.
bulletTransparency Grade of A,B,C,D, or F, based on the responsiveness of the charity and the completeness of the information disclosed to requests from Wall Watchers.
bulletOrganizational details, date of founding, etc.
bulletA written assessment of the ministry, which may include theological criticisms.

Ministry Watch appears to go beyond simply assessing the financial health and transparency of ministries; they are very critical of Word of Faith, Prosperity Gospel, and "Health and Wealth" teachings. They also criticize ministries that deviate from historical Protestant theology in any way.

They issue donor alerts from time to time, in which they recommend that donors withhold giving to a specific ministry.

They describe themselves as a Christian ministry. Many casual visitors to their web site might conclude that they cover the full range of Christian charities including conservative,  mainline, and liberal. However, the vast majority of the charities rated by Ministry Watch appear to  Evangelical Christian groups. There is at least one exception: the Christian Children's Fund, which they list even though it does not have "a specifically [Evangelical] Christian agenda." 3

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Recent donor alerts:

bullet2005-MAR: Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN): Ministry Watch advised "donors to withhold support" to this ministry. They also called for a reorganization of Trinity's leadership. Ministry Watch is concerned that TBN does not release consolidated audited financial statements; their savings rate is unusually high; they have cash and short term investments of over a third of a billion dollars; the TBN board of directors consists of only three members, all of whom are family members. Ministry Watch claims that: "In 1998, a former TBN employee, Enoch Lonnie Ford, was paid $425,000 for agreeing not to publicize Mr. Fordís allegations that he and TBN founder Paul Crouch had a homosexual tryst two years earlier." 4
bullet2005-MAY: Benny Hinn Ministries: After a study of Benny Hinn Ministries/World Outreach Church, Ministry Watch decided to advise donors "...to find other ministries to support while questions of finances, unfounded claims of healings, nontransparency and other issues [are] addressed."  Wall Watchers' co-founder and CEO, Rusty Leonard, explained, "Recent facts and allegations aired on NBC DATELINE Ė coupled with MinistryWatch.comís previous concerns about the selfserving 'prosperity theology' taught by Benny Hinn Ė has caused MinistryWatch.com to recommend that donors prayerfully consider redirecting their gifts to one of the many biblically-based ministries that are not only more transparent in their dealings with the public but also treat donorís funds as a sacred trust dedicated exclusively for the Lordís work." 5
bullet2005-JUN: Joyce Meyer Ministries: Ministry Watch suggests that donors "...prayerfully consider withholding contributions to Joyce Meyer Ministries/Life in the Word, Inc (JMM)." Ministry Watch also suggests that donors to JMM pray for the spiritual well being of Joyce Meyer and her family members. These decisions were apparently triggered by revelations by Randy Holman of the Jefferson County, MO, tax assessor. He reclassified JMM from a church to a business. When JMM appealed the decision, JMM was required to release financial data to the assessor, which then became accessible to the public.

Reporter Carolyn Tuft of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that:
bulletJoyce Meyer's annual salary in 2002 and 2003 was $900,000; it has since been reduced to $250,000.
bulletHer husband and vice-president of the ministry's board of trustees received $450,000 during 2002 and 2003.
bulletJoyce Meyer and her husband have free use of a corporate jet, luxury cars, and a home worth $2 million.
bulletJoyce Meyer also received a portion of the $3 million per year royalties from sales of her books and tapes.

Tuft wrote that "Holman contends that the ministry is a business - the business of selling Joyce Meyer." Holman said: "She's using the ministry for her own private gain. That's the position we're taking."

Ministry spokesman Mark Sutherland said: "We believe that the Bible teaches that if you give, you will be blessed. She's been saying it from the stage for years." 6,7

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References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Mission Statement," Wall Watchers, at: http://www.wallwatchers.org/
  2. "About us," Ministry Watch, at: http://ministrywatch.com/
  3. "Christian Children's Fund," Ministry Watch, at: http://ministrywatch.com/
  4. "MinistryWatch.com advises donors to withhold support to Trinity Broadcasting Network; calls also for new leadership," Ministry Watch, 2005-MAR, at: http://www.ministrywatch.org/
  5. "MinistryWatch.com Issues Donor Alert for Benny Hinn. Donors advised to find other ministries to support while questions of finances, unfounded claims of healings, nontransparency and other issues addressed," MinistryWatch, 2005-MAY-31, at: http://www.ministrywatch.com/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from:
  6. "MinistryWatch.com Recommends that Donors Withhold Giving to Joyce Meyer Ministries," Ministry Watch, 2005-JUN, at: http://www.ministrywatch.org/
  7. Carolyn Tuft, "Meyer received millions, records show," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2005-APR-30, at: http://www.stltoday.com/

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Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2005-JUN-07
Latest update: 2005-JUN-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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