DONOR ALERTS ISSUED BY MINISTRY WATCH
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
|A description of the its purpose .|
|An efficiency rating, of from one to five
|An 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.|
|Transparency 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.|
|Organizational details, date of founding, etc.|
|A 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."
Recent donor alerts:
|2005-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. Ford’s allegations that he and TBN founder
Paul Crouch had a homosexual tryst two years earlier."
|2005-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'
CEO, Rusty Leonard, explained, "Recent facts and allegations aired on NBC
DATELINE – coupled with MinistryWatch.com’s previous concerns about the
selfserving 'prosperity theology' taught by Benny Hinn – 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 donor’s
funds as a sacred trust dedicated exclusively for the Lord’s work."
|2005-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
Reporter Carolyn Tuft of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that:
|Joyce Meyer's annual salary in 2002 and
2003 was $900,000; it has since been reduced to $250,000.|
|Her husband and vice-president of the
ministry's board of trustees received $450,000 during 2002 and 2003.|
|Joyce Meyer and her husband have free use
of a corporate jet, luxury cars, and a home worth $2 million.
|Joyce 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
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Mission Statement," Wall Watchers, at:
- "About us," Ministry Watch, at: http://ministrywatch.com/
- "Christian Children's Fund," Ministry Watch, at:
- "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/
- "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:
- "MinistryWatch.com Recommends that Donors Withhold Giving to Joyce Meyer Ministries," Ministry Watch, 2005-JUN, at:
- Carolyn Tuft, "Meyer received millions, records show," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2005-APR-30, at:
Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2005-JUN-07
Latest update: 2005-JUN-08
Author: B.A. Robinson