Sunday, February 06, 2011

Bellevue Lo♥es Soda Cans!

This morning Steve Gaines announced that Bellevue has spent $3000 on a trailer to place on the church parking lot which will be used to collect aluminum cans. The proceeds from recycling the cans will be given to Life Choices, a local crisis pregnancy center. Now, that's a commendable goal which I cannot criticize.

However, did anyone really think this through before they dropped $3000 on what appears to be the type of flatbed, mesh-sided trailer landscaping companies use? Seriously? I mean, surely in those big outbuildings somewhere on the lush, manicured Bellevue "campus" there is already a fleet of trailers. We've seen the "Bellevue Lo♥es Memphis" trailer.

If nothing else and if you really want to recycle, tear down some of those old SCT, MPP, or VBS sets which will never be used again and have some volunteers build a big, secure recycling box.

Instead, the church, in their infinite lack of wisdom with their seemingly bottomless coffers, chose to spend $3000 on a brand new trailer. Oh, but wait! There's a catch. Life Choices will see no immediate benefit from this project. Rather, Steve says in the video clip that after the trailer is paid for all money collected from future recycling will be donated to Life Choices.

He did strongly hint that someone or perhaps a Sunday School class (or whatever they're calling SS now, I can't keep up) could dig into their own pockets and pay for the trailer immediately, but assuming that doesn't happen, let's consider just how many aluminum cans it's going to take simply to recoup the cost of the trailer.

A little research reveals that it takes about 32 of today's aluminum cans to equal one pound. It used to be around 24-25, but today's cans are lighter.

It varies, but from what I can tell, the going rate in this area for aluminum cans right now is about 30 cents a pound. Therefore, just to break even on the cost of the trailer and not factoring in the cost of getting the cans to the recycling center, it's going to take about 10,000 pounds (5 tons) of aluminum cans to recover $3000. That translates into 320,000 individual cans.

Put another way, the 13,333 cases of cans (24 cans/case) it takes to equal 320,000 cans would measure about 14,867 square feet or roughly 1/4 the size of a football field (if you include the end zones) if they were to be laid side by side in a single layer. Or if you were to stack all those cases in a single pile they'd reach a height of 5278 feet. One mile = 5280 feet.

Petty? Maybe. What's $3000 out of an annual budget of almost $20 million? If you're one of the many families that doesn't even make $3000 in a whole month, it might be very significant.

Today was "Prove the Tithe" Sunday at Bellevue. Yesterday every Bellevue family received an automated, pre-recorded phone call from Brother Steve saying (paraphrased but close), "Tomorrow is 'Prove the Tithe' Sunday at Bellevue Baptist Church. God says, 'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,' says the LORD of hosts, 'if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.' Whether you already tithe or not, we're asking you to take one-tenth of what you make in one week and give that to our church in the form of a tithe. Blah blah blah."

That sounds awfully Benny Hinnish to me. Proof-texting one verse of scripture from the Old Testament to convince people they must give "one-tenth of your income, undesignated, to the budget of the local church" if they want to be blessed by God is not the generous, cheerful (i.e. without compulsion) giving taught in the New Testament.

If you're giving a tenth or more to Bellevue Baptist Church in an undesignated fashion and doing so cheerfully believing it's all going to do the work of the Lord, that's great. Keep giving. Give even more! I would think, though, that a prudent person would expect the church to be good stewards of that money, and I'm not convinced this example is one of good stewardship.

I find it ironic that Bellevue continues to pressure people to give more while every few weeks Steve Gaines is gallivanting around the country and even overseas to speak at conferences, lead Holy Land trips, and I've lost track of the weeks of vacation. (Time off for recent knee surgery is certainly legitimate.)

Barely a year ago they extended the platform in the auditorium, and now they plan to tear all that out and completely redo the platform and choir loft. (See the Vision 2010 Plan and the Love Offering 2010 mailing for artist conceptions.) They bought an expensive new center IMAG screen and projector year before last. Now they plan to replace all three IMAG screens.

Later this month Steve and four staff members from the church, David Coombs, Drew Tucker, Steve Marcum, and Russ Quinn, will be traveling to Gardendale, Alabama to lead "sessions" at the 2011 Alabama State Evangelism Conference, funded by Alabama Baptists.

Does it strike anyone else as a bit ironic that David Coombs is leading a session called Adding Water to the Soup (Budgets, Buildings and Adjusting to a New Normal)? It's described as a "hard look at how to survive and adjust in this new economy." I guess that means "spending money today like it's water because you might not have it tomorrow." Reminds me of the federal government. In fact, "nickels and noses" seems to be the common thread throughout the session topics at what is being called an evangelism conference. In a 20-page PDF file the name of Jesus is mentioned twice.

So guzzle those Diet Cokes everybody, and Life Choices, y'all hang in there. The check will be in the mail as soon as the members of Bellevue have collectively drunk a mile-high stack of cases of Diet Coke and the trailer is paid for in full.

Will they accept Bud Light cans?


New BBC Open Forum said...

I've been informed Steve announced tonight that someone texted him today and said, "I love children. I'll give $3000 for that trailer."

But we knew that would happen all along. That's why he said it this morning. He knows that for some BBC members, $3000 is pocket change and that someone would come through.

So now Life Choices won't have to wait for the members of Bellevue to consume 320,000 Diet Cokes and other fizzy drinks before they start reaping the benefits.

jared said...

I think the most interesting part about your blog post is that they gave you an automated phone call reminding you to tithe. I actually wrote a blog post about it.

- jared

New BBC Open Forum said...

I actually wrote a blog post about it.


jared said...


New BBC Open Forum said...

Good article (and blog), Steward. Welcome. The only automated phone calls that I've ever heard are related to money, pumping up attendance, reminding you to set your clocks forward or backward for DST (which is related to attendance), or if they're announcing the church closing due to bad weather. There's always one the night before the annual "Love Offering" Sunday which is usually in November. "Prove the Tithe" Sunday is a new wrinkle, but one which I've no doubt will become a tradition. I look forward to following your blog.

WishIhadknown said...

So where does the orchestra go in the redone platform?

WishIhadknown said...

Did anyone have a flat tire on their way home after giving their tithe for give the tithe Sunday? Or better, did anyone who would have had a flat not get one because they gave? I apologize for being so cynical but really.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Nice article. People are so gullible. Nice calculation on how many cans it would take to pay the $3000 back.

Most "projects" that megas do is based on positive cash flow. Will they generate enough revenue to justify the expenditure.

Start a satellite? Do the cash flow analysis. Will the expected receipts be greater than the costs?

Collect soda cans? Sure, if we can pay for the collection equipment with the revenue.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Note he said someone texted him saying they'd pony up the $3000. How many members of the church would have the pastor's cell phone number to be able to do that?

New BBC Open Forum said...

So where does the orchestra go in the redone platform?

I wondered where they plan to put the organ. There have been rumors for several years about them wanting to sell it. I don't think they will, not yet at least, but I don't see a place for it either.

The artist's rendering of the new platform reminds me of the set of the old Newlywed Game.

Or better, did anyone who would have had a flat not get one because they gave?

How would they know? Someone might believe they were favored because they tithed, but someone else might believe they didn't have a flat simply because they didn't drive over a nail. It's hard to prove a negative. Does it work like insurance?

WishIhadknown said...

The organ can go a lot of places, in the balcony or even in the choir room, kind of like the pit choir fot SCT and MPP. They could sell it I suppose but that would cause some bad feelings since many people donated money specifically to buy the organ. It would be like selling the chandelier.

WishIhadknown said...

"How would they know?"

Not sure but there always seems to be someone around who can testify to God changing their material or economic circumstances because they gave their tithe. I don't suppose Gaines did the money dance Sunday.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Good point about the organ. They can hide the console anywhere. Like the pulpit. The only reason I ever gave that rumor the slightest bit of credibility was that it came from the same source who, at least two years before the plans were unveiled, claimed TPTB were tossing around ideas such as replacing the library with a coffee shop, filling the west foyer with sofas, and replacing the stairway in the west foyer with escalators. The person who posted that information was called a liar at the time, but two of those three things are right there in the Vision 2010 Master Plan. (The library will be moved, not eliminated, and there don't appear to be any plans for an escalator right now.) There were other, less imaginable ideas said to have been tossed around, but just because something might have been discussed doesn't mean they're going to do it. I got the impression this was the case with the organ. The idea may have been discussed, but I don't expect to see it happen in the near future. On the other hand, Jo Jackson is the only person I've seen play it, and she's not young, so once she retires do they have anyone else who can play it or might it go the way of the pulpit and only be played for special events? I guess time will tell.

New BBC Open Forum said...

I don't suppose Gaines did the money dance Sunday.

Not that I'm aware of. It will be interesting to see if they publish the weekly receipts since they don't now. I remember in late '06 they pushed to get something like 7700 people in SS one Sunday. They went just over the goal and flashed the SS attendance numbers for that morning on the IMAG. That was the last time I ever saw SS attendance numbers other than the averages published in the annual report. I'm guessing that if the offering was significantly larger than average that Steve will announce how "God's people obeyed and filled the storehouse." If not, nothing will be mentioned about it.

WishIhadknown said...

Does anybody ever mention the 2005 Love Offering and the Prayer building that was never built?

New BBC Open Forum said...

From what I've heard they supposedly used the money from that offering to build the "prayer room/center" on the second floor and rolled what was left, if anything, into the Vision 2010 program.

WishIhadknown said...

Guess they just kind of ignore the rule about designated gifts have to be used for the purpose given or permission has to be given for a new purpose or the gifts have to be returned. Not surprising, they ignore all of the other pesky rules too.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Although there is some controversy over the results, a recent study seems to show a link between the consumption of diet soft drinks and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Just sayin'.

Paul said...

Here's another question.

If the trailer must be "paid" for by those fund raising efforts and not the church, are they then going to GIVE the trailer to the charity?

Thanks for doing the math to show how absurd this is. If Steve Gaines, the "operations chief" of Bellevue, can't see the ridiculousness of this whole proposition, perhaps he should go back to school and consider a new line of work.

Junkster said...


Given how long it would take to raise $3000 via collecting soda cans, wouldn't it have been much more efficient to have skipped the trailer altogether and ask someone to give the money directly to Life Choices instead?

Even with the trailer paid for, how long is it going to be before Life Choices sees a donation from the can revenue?

Care to take a stab at estimating how much one trailer full of cans is worth, and how long it might take to fill it up, and what the annual donations to Life Choices will be as a result?

Good post. Glad to see you back at it.

Junkster said...

New BBC Open Forum said...
Note he said someone texted him saying they'd pony up the $3000. How many members of the church would have the pastor's cell phone number to be able to do that?

The word "favoritism" comes to mind, which then brings to mind James 2:

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Thanks, junk. I often ask myself the same question about some of the popular fundraising efforts today. Marathons, walkathons, bikeathons, radiothons... why not just ask people to donate? Why does there have to be a gimmick involved?

New BBC Open Forum said...

Care to take a stab at estimating how much one trailer full of cans is worth....

Crushed or not? Crushed would be difficult. Knowing the size of the trailer it would be simple enough to calculate how many uncrushed cans it would take to fill it. (Someone want to run over there and measure it?) In reality, there will probably be a mix of crushed and not crushed, loose and in bags, and if they don't keep a close eye on it there's going to be trash thrown into it, too.

gopher said...

Doesn't even look like a recycle trailer (only 4' sides, double axle for heavy loads, looks more like a landscape trailer)

Aluminum Can Recycle Trailers Look Like this

Pic 1

Pic 2

Pic 3

Landscape Trailers Look like this

Pic 1

What it will look like in a couple of years

Pic 2

Wonder who at Bellevue was needin to sell/swap a Landscape Trailer??

Sure adds to the aesthetics of the church.

Just wait till the flys, bees, wasps and scavengers show up.

At least Donna is happy now, as she won't have to put up with some of Steves garbage in the garage anymore.

What will Steve Gaines think of next?.....Wait....Here's an idea...

A Trailer for Tires

Doesn't the City of Memphis pay $1 per Tire once a year?

Paul said...

You know, even if someone "donates" the money for that trailer, the trailer donation may exceed the amount they eventually raise from collecting cans (or at least what they collect in a reasonable period of time). That makes the whole affair just plain ridiculous.

Rather than encouraging his own membership to consume more soda and get diabetes, he could have just donated the trailer money to the charity.

Frankly, it's almost unbelievable how Steve Gaines has tarnished Dr. Rogers' legacy, and sadly, he did it with the assistance of people who once whole-heartedly supported Dr. Rogers.

gopher said...

1st trailer load of cans went to the recycle center this week.
(that took a month)

$ or ¢

Less driver, gas and BBc vehicle.

Starting for load #2

"Cans for Kids"


WTL said...

A soda can(uncrushed)has a volume of roughly 32.7 cubic inches, whereas the trailer looks to be about 4x6x18 which is a volume of about 746,496 square inches, meaning you could put about 22,828 cans on the trailer uncrushed. Crushed to a height of 1 inch, you could put about 124,416 cans in the trailer.

Though it is a moot point, the trailer would have to be filled with uncrushed cans 14 times or with crushed cans about 2.5 times to cover the cost of the trailer, which is roughly 1/15 of 1% of your annual church budget.

That's sort of like taking I-55 south to get to Wisconsin. Sure you'll get there eventually, but why not just head north first? I guess the Reverend is seeking to strike a chord with the 'common' folk, those whose only disposable income could only come from picking up cans from the side of the road or selling blood products at the local clinic. There was a time when I too was oblivious to such about age 5 or 6.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Hi, Amos!

Long time, no hear. Isn't math fun?

Chasing Tomorrow said...

you need counseling...serious help....seriously, this is all that you can come up with....let it go man...move on with your life....

Chasing Tomorrow said...

seriously man...go get help...this bitterness has eaten your life away....let it go...

Chasing Tomorrow said...

i feel so sorry for you....your heart is so hard....does this ever enter your mind....that maybe you have a problem...maybe the problem with Bellevue is well...YOU.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Oooh, a drive-by! Feelin' the love.

Michelle said...

LOL.... love it. Betcha never heard that one before.