Monday, June 23, 2008

About the American Bible Society

True Discernment linked to a Ministry Watch report on the American Bible Society, which states in part that the American Bible Society has an Efficiency Rating of 1 star out of 5, which ranks it 10 of 10 within the Publishing sector.

In addition, Ministry Watch issued this release. While the main part of the release addressed gambling/pornography investment allegations against ABS' (now former) CEO, Ministry Watch had other concerns.

ABS does not subscribe to a statement of faith in an effort to avoid doctrinal disputes and operate in an ecumenical manner. Unfortunately, the lack of a doctrinal stand can cause as many problems as it seeks to avoid. It seems particularly dangerous for a publisher of the Word of God to not have a doctrinal statement which guides their actions.

Others may quibble with me, but this particular issue doesn't concern me, as long as ABS' practices are doctrinally consistent with mainstream Christianity. Last I checked they weren't distributing the New World Translation or anything.

ABS is not a member of the ECFA, a peer accountability group for Christian ministries. Given ABS’s present and past governance problems, significant remedial action in this area seems advisable. The ECFA’s strong standards would certainly assist ABS in achieving greater donor confidence. Unfortunately, it may be ABS’s desire to avoid adhering to a specific statement of faith, another ECFA requirement, which keeps it from joining the ECFA. As one of the largest Christian ministries in the world, believes ABS should pursue ECFA membership as a testimony to Christians and non-Christians alike that it takes its stewardship of its ministry seriously.

This one does concern me. While allegations have been made that the ECFA is not fully vetting the organizations, at least it is making an effort to do so. And it's significant to note that of the six ministries (Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer and Randy and Paula White) contacted by the Senate Finance Committee regarding questionable finance practices, a grand total of 0 is an ECFA member.

Donors should be aware that ABS maintains huge cash and investment reserves. Essentially, the ministry controls an endowment that is by far the largest in the Christian ministry world. Earnings from this $693 million in cash and securities are utilized to fund the ministry’s operations. But many donors may be disappointed by the ministry’s strategy to not utilize these substantial resources as quickly as possible to achieve its stated mission of putting the Bible in the hands of everyone on earth. By spending rather than investing this huge sum of savings, ABS could actually run its operation at its 2007 level for at least seven years without the need for any donations at all.

This is another concern. Note that similar allegations have been made against the Trinity Broadcasting Network; I discussed these back in 2004. And, by the way, the Trinity Broadcasting Network does not appear on ECFA's membership list (although the Christian Broadcasting Network does).

And, after detailing the low fundraising efficiency I mentioned earlier, Ministry Watch states the following:

Donors should be aware that a large percentage (38%) of ABS’s program expenses are direct grants to other organizations. In this sense, the ministry acts more like a foundation than a ministry that invests in its own programs. Given the high fundraising costs ABS incurs, donors would be advised that their donations may achieve more if they directly funded the same organizations that ABS funds.

Then again, the ABS is making a positive impact:

God’s Word has found a new home-on Amazon Kindle. As of today the Contemporary English Version of the Bible (CEV), a modern-day translation of the American Bible Society, can be instantly accessed through the Amazon device without the use of a computer. A high resolution screen provides an excellent display of the text and the CEV Bible is searchable. The simplicity of the Kindle device is a plus for those looking to get specific books of the Bible or the entire Bible itself. This makes the Bible into a highly portable library....

The entire American Bible Society’s Contemporary English Version will be available on Amazon Kindle for $3.99 (digital list price).

Sphere: Related Content
blog comments powered by Disqus