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Falwell's 'big, hairy, audacious' balls, er, goals

The freshly coronary roto-rootered Rev. Tinkywinky wants some more tithing from his flock.

He’s back in the pulpit and asking for cash to keep building his empire.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell’s steps were a little slower than last year when he spoke at Decatur Baptist Church. But in the pulpit, Falwell, who had coronary angioplasty surgery five weeks ago, was as animated as ever, even though his topic was one many preachers and churchgoers dread — money.

Falwell used himself and his church as illustrations of faithful giving. The church he serves in Lynchburg, Va., a congregation of 24,000, is building a new facility. Falwell started the church with 35 people 50 years ago. Their first offering was $135.

Last year, the church’s receipts, including income from the university the church operates, was $200 million, he said. Falwell said when he fell ill, he asked God to spare him from death. He wants to accomplish what he called “big, hairy, audacious goals,” a phrase he said he borrowed from the business world.

One of his goals is to have 50,000 students at the school he founded, Liberty University in Lynchburg. The school will have 23,000 students on campus and via distance learning this fall, he said.

Falwell said that God multiplies blessings for people who give 10 percent, a tithe, or more of their incomes. He said that research shows that only 17 percent of Christians tithe. The preacher challenged listeners to practice sacrificial giving that affects their lifestyles. He said he and his wife give between 30 and 40 percent to Thomas Road Baptist, where he is pastor.

Falwell said he isn’t immune to financial stress. He joked that his grandchildren see him as a “sugar daddy,” and the oldest needs a car.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding