Mac Hammond: Pride, Prosperity and the Church

Pastor Mac Hammond of Living Word Christian Center has found himself in a lot of trouble. He recently made the news ( by being audited by the IRS.  Apparently the impetus for the audit is rooted in Mac Hammond publicly endorsing current Representative, Michelle Bachman, from his pulpit.  The endorsement resulted in those who champion separation of church and state to want the IRS involved and for the church to be stripped of their tax exempt status. According to the Star Tribune article, Mac Hammond in February 2007, apparently in response to such challenges, stated he would “almost welcome an IRS audit.”

            The response to me comes off as a challenge from pride, and like many challenges from pride, it results in being met full force.  The IRS is now auditing Mac Hammond and Living Word Christian Center but not because of direct fall out from giving Michelle Bachman time from the pulpit but rather because of improprieties seen by the IRS in how the church handled loans to Mac Hammond as well as how they managed his purchase and subsequent leasing to the church of a private jet. 

            Whether or not any actual malfeasance took place has yet to be determined but regardless of whether or not any malfeasance occurred, the very need for the investigation is troubling.  We are called to avoid all appearance of evil. So even if there is no violation of IRS code or breaking of the law, the very fact that there is an appearance of wrong doing should be troubling.

            At the heart of the matter really comes down to the concept preached of the “prosperity” gospel where you are given “increase” based on giving. Now while it is true that God blesses those who give generously, the tone of the “prosperity” gospel is that of increase in your personal kingdom. It becomes as you give you will gain increase.  Ultimately, the increase we should care about is increase in the Kingdom of God.

            Unfortunately, when scandal of any sort hits a church or a congregation, all of what they have done is called into question.  The truth when mixed with error brings confusion and damages people.  It is even more troubling when leadership engages in behavior that at a minimum has the look of impropriety.

            We all need to be careful.  Each of us easily can go down the road of building our own kingdoms. Each of us can get caught in the wanting or more.  Each of us can get caught in what feels good or right at the moment.  Temptations abound. However, the essence of “prosperity” teaching can encourage the feeding of our lusts and pride. 

            When we recognize the feeding of our lusts and pride we need to repent and turn from those paths.  I pray that in this, Mac Hammond and those in position at Living Word Christian Center be brought into awareness of a need to repent of chasing after lust and pride. Now, that is not to say that the church and Mac Hammond haven’t benefited others for the Kingdom of God but in looking at these events the question has to be which kingdom was being served in greater measure.