Six years ago, Rusty Leonard, a successful North Carolina businessman, was seeking out ministries to support. Before giving out donations, he and his wife preferred looking at the organizations’ financial accountability. However, many Christian organizations did not have any financial statements.
As a result, Leonard started Wall Watchers (www.wallwatchers.org), a ministry that now has seven full-time professionals supervising hundreds of the biggest church and para-church ministries in the United States.
Wall Watchers Michael Barrick says the organization was started by Leonard and his wife after prayer and Bible study. He says the couple had come across a passage in Ezekiel 33 “about being a wall watcher and alerting the innocent and the unsuspecting of what's going on.” This passage forms the foundation of the mission of Wall Watchers.
“That’s what Wall Watchers exists to do,” Barrick says. “We’re an independent advocate for donors so that the gospel of Jesus Christ can be furthered.” As of right now, the organization monitors over 500 ministries in the U.S. for financial accountability, providing quality research and ratings.
Through its work, Wall Watchers hopes the adoption of “best practices” will be stimulated. Also, the ministry hopes its work will bring about advancement throughout the Christian ministry marketplace as donors get interested in the accountability and effectiveness of organizations. If there are any problems, the ministry will get donors to be informed as much as possible about the areas of concern.
For instance, Wall Watchers issued a “Donor Alert” dealing with the Trinity Broadcast Network, which is watched by over five million American households each week, a number of them faithful supporters of the ministry. A panel of Christian leaders had to examine the network’s finances.
According to Barrick, Wall Watchers is keeping donors informed by developing resources and services. Barrick says, “Very soon we’ll be introducing a new product in which we highlight Christian ministries that are exemplary -- that are models of not only financial efficiency and program effectiveness, but also theology and transparency."
The listing of organizations that are exemplary will be available within the next few weeks. The first such ministry listed will be World Help (www.worldhelp.net).