by Michael S Alford
Numbers say a lot, especially when it comes to money. How you spend, and where you spend is as clear definition of who and what you are as anything else I can think of, especially when it comes to discretionary income. If I were looking for some sort of snapshot of what the heartbeat of the American people is, I would look at how they spend their money.
For example, every January we have a Super Bowl ( always on a Sunday), and it is such a significant event that some churches cancel services over it. Over 43 million people host Super Bowl parties in their homes, and by the time they buy team merchandise, food, drinks, red solo cups, etc, the national price tag winds up around 14.31 billion dollars. This is more than the Gross Domestic Product of most of the countries of the world. Having spent this money they will then look forward to the Super Bowl Ads. A 30-second advertisement during this year’s game costs $4.5 million or $150,000 per second.
Once the Super Bowl is over, Americans will spend almost $2 billion of whatever money they have left on Valentines Day, and follow it up the next month with over 4 billion on St. Patricks Day. Easter will scoop up about $16 billion dollars , with Halloween costumes for pets consuming $30 million. During the course of the year, they’ll spend $550 million on pretzels, and wash it down with $96 billion in beer while reading $10 billion worth of romance novels and putting 11 billion dollars into wedding and engagement rings.
Americans will gamble away 34 billion big ones, while drinking 11 billion dollars worth of coffee. They’ll smell great the whole time though, because they’ll spend $4.2 billion on perfume. Tattoos will get 2.3 billion smackaroos, while tattoo removal will consume $66 million. Americans annually will spend $1.4 billion on teeth whiteners ( to counteract all that coffee) while chewing on $16 billion dollars worth of chocolate to go along with $800 million worth of Girl Scout cookies. Eleven billion dollars worth of bottled water will be guzzled, while soft drinks will slurp up another $65 billion.
For the athletically inclined, there are $500 million worth of golf balls to be bought (as well as $25.4 billion spent on professional sports in general) , while the couch potatoes will spend $17 billion on video games. With such poor stewardship of money going on, it’s hardly surprising that Americans spend 18 billion dollars on credit card late fees and $500 million on Twinkies. It’s fair to say , if our spending habits are any indicators, Americans are possibly the most pleasure-centered and entertainment obsessed people that have ever walked the face of the earth.
By way of contrast, let me present you with some numbers that are mostly anecdotal, but I think prove the point. The average independent Baptist missionary will stay on deputation for 3 years. He will appear in about 150 churches and though the numbers vary wildly from missionary to missionary and from church to church, will receive from supporting churches about 25 dollars a month. To raise this support he will stay in prophet chambers, Sunday school rooms, RV parks, members homes, and over 30 different hotels. He will log thousands of miles and spend around $10,000 doing this. He will then take his average $3000 a month income, move his entire family to a foreign land, and watch as American churches slowly lose interest. The word used by missionaries to describe the slowing down of funds is ‘attrition’. Oddly enough, that’s a warfare term by which you slowly bleed your enemy of manpower by slow, gradual destruction. The missionary is expected to return stateside after 3 or 4 years and do this process all over again.
This ‘Christian nation’ spends more on fast food than on the gospel. We spend more on toilet paper than on missionaries. We grind good men to a powder making them jump through our own little flaming hoops to get our 25 bucks a month. We will then leave the church house and go plunk down 4 dollars for a mocha cappuccino. I don’t expect the unregenerate man to understand or have any sympathy, but we as Christians will have to give an account for how we spent our money, and it absolutely shows where our heart is.I guess my question is a simple one. What in the world is wrong with us?
by Michael S Alford