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How a church spends money

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
So, there is a new church near us, and I'm feeling disquieted and wanted a thought-sharing on this (Note: tactful thought-sharing!). The church is HUGE. Sits on large acreage, has 800 parking spaces and three large three-story buildings. It has a central courtyard with two smallish waterfalls and water features. The furniture is upholstered with suede, the wood looks expensive, the floor is done in nice tile or carpet . . . in short, the place looks EXPENSIVE.

Now, they do rent out their buildings for conferences, some college classes go on there, etc. There is also a small recording studio for Christian bands, and they have a large theatre where bands like Third Day and Jars of Clay perform. They also have a FANTASIC nursery and daycare program.

My conflict here is, the building and furniture and everything had to be very expensive, and as a church it feels very wrong to me for them to spend money on such perks (I mean, SUEDE?!) instead of on social programs. Then again, those perks allow them to attract business people who will spend lots of money to rent the place, so they can use THAT revenue to fund such things. You see where I'm going here? I can see where it might balance out, but it still bothers me. Any thoughts? I can't make up my mind how I feel about it.
post #2 of 16
Nice churches tend to attract more parishoners, and renters for special events. That in turn brings in more money. Some churches aren't as concerned with social programs as others either.
post #3 of 16
One has to spend money to make money. While one may criticise it by saying that the money could be spent for a more worthy cause, since I believe one should be free to do what they want provided they do not hurt others, I do not think there is anything wrong with a Church being run like a corporation. I mean after all religion is big business. A church structure can potentially be a good investment vehicle given its tax advantageous. You have heard of people selling candles that smell like Jesus, (www.hisessence.com) where the person claimed to have sold over 10,000 candles at $18, to things like prayer rugs to even setting up their own recording studios. Practically one could sell almost anything (with proper permits and stuff). Imagine: What better insurance than one endorsed by God, or furniture made in the traditional way, just like Jesus. Or one could take a page out of Muslim banking laws and provide a banking service without Usury (interest). Really, with advertisements on TV for church, the only thing that has yet to happen (at least to my knowledge) is for a church to be listed on the stock exchange.
post #4 of 16
My church has recently undergone a fairly major renovation and refurbishing, at no small expense. There's actually one more phase before the project is complete. Some elements of this work have given some members of the parish some difficulty -- in terms of spending money in ways that they find less important, and therefore "irresponsible".

Money spent on apparently expensive esthetics could easily be targetted in this way, but it's important to look at the overall picture: I know that many decisions that were taken in our renovation project were driven by the potential for outreach. When a congregation is thinking in terms of outreach, it has to think past the end of its nose, to what will attract whatever segment of the community it's hoping to attract -- whether that be arts groups that can contribute to the richness of the church community, or potential new members, who simply need to discover that this is a place that will welcome them, and where they can find a home. In either case, you have to get them in the door before you can present the message that will make them want to stay. Often the former enables the latter, too.

Yes, it's possible that those esthetic decisions were extravagant -- but not necessarily so.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpy
One has to spend money to make money. While one may criticise it by saying that the money could be spent for a more worthy cause, since I believe one should be free to do what they want provided they do not hurt others, I do not think there is anything wrong with a Church being run like a corporation. I mean after all religion is big business. .
Well, but that is the crux of my problem with it. While a church needs money to provide funds for outreach, I feel strongly that the primary focus of any church is to provide for the welfare of others, both spiritual and material. The purpose of "big business" is to increase profits. If the focus is too heavy on bringing in money, I feel that it is too likely that the welfare of people will end up in second place (or third, or fourth). And while "religion" has been made big business, the people who have made it so are not themselves spiritual people. They are charlatans trying to take advantage of folks (I mean, candles that smell like Jesus???!!!). There is a significant difference between the guy selling "Jesus" candles to make money for himself, and the guy collecting tithes to fund a humanitarian home-building trip to Mexico.
post #6 of 16
I have mixed feelings about this. One thing I'd like to point out is that the main tourist attractions in Europe aren't natural, but manmade, wonders, built at tremendous expense and sometimes over the course of centuries. Just think of all the gorgeous cathedrals in Western Europe, that have stood for centuries.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rapunzel47
My church has recently undergone a fairly major renovation and refurbishing, at no small expense. There's actually one more phase before the project is complete. Some elements of this work have given some members of the parish some difficulty -- in terms of spending money in ways that they find less important, and therefore "irresponsible"..
Well, sure. I know any time a church spends money on the building, etc people get a bit disturbed. The same thing happened at the church my parents attend. But in the end most felt that the improvements were needed and reasonable. The choir did not have a decent practice room, there was no space large enough for big events, etc. They fixed that. But this particular church went beyond what was "needful" and even what was maybe a bit "extra". For instance, the lobby area is done in expensive, large tile, there are three gas burning fireplaces with nice rugs in front, and the afore-mentioned suede furniture, the doors are all solid wood with brass or similar handles. There are several large flat-screen TVs so that you can watch what happens in the sanctuary from the lobby. Actually, these TVs are found throughout all three buildings. My problem is the extreme largesse. It isn't just nice furniture, it's SUEDE; it isn't just TVs, they are FLAT SCREEN, it isn't just nice tile; it's some of the most expensive type . . . ..
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
I have mixed feelings about this. One thing I'd like to point out is that the main tourist attractions in Europe aren't natural, but manmade, wonders, built at tremendous expense and sometimes over the course of centuries. Just think of all the gorgeous cathedrals in Western Europe, that have stood for centuries.

Mmmm. Yes that's a good point. However, this place does not have any unique architecture, so I doubt it would ever be considered a wonder. I do know of a glass church in Palos Verdes, CA that could be considered such. That particular church I think could be considered worth the expense, because it does attract many people of diverse backgrounds to visit and I must say that the architecture is inspiring, which is one feeling all pastors hope to induce in their congregation!
post #9 of 16
Perhaps this church received government faith-based grants to rebuild, etc. This is part of Bush's agenda and it wouldn't be the first church to benefit for these funds.

If so the way the government usually works is that you either spend all the money budgeted for you, or it just goes back to the feds,
post #10 of 16
Give me a peaceful woods tucked away in the mountains and I become my spiritual best. One of the reasons I haven't attended church regularly in 35 years is the business end of churches. Too many churches are all about money.
post #11 of 16
Jesus did not charge people to preach to them. Jesus preached to crowds of people and even fed them. Jesus even said in Matthew 8:20 “Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.†Making money was not important to him what was important is that he give those that listened to him spiritual guidence. He also directed his apostles to not charge either. In Matthew 10:7-8 it says: As YOU go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’ *Cure sick people, raise up dead persons, make lepers clean, expel demons. YOU received free, give free "
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
I have mixed feelings about this. One thing I'd like to point out is that the main tourist attractions in Europe aren't natural, but manmade, wonders, built at tremendous expense and sometimes over the course of centuries. Just think of all the gorgeous cathedrals in Western Europe, that have stood for centuries.
That is true. I recall having to pay a 8 pounds (I think) entrance fee to enter St Paul's in London. That of course seem a bit funny at the time since prior to that I was at the Tate modern museum across the river where admission was free.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengalbabe
Jesus did not charge people to preach to them. Jesus preached to crowds of people and even fed them. Jesus even said in Matthew 8:20 “Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.†Making money was not important to him what was important is that he give those that listened to him spiritual guidence. He also directed his apostles to not charge either. In Matthew 10:7-8 it says: As YOU go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’ *Cure sick people, raise up dead persons, make lepers clean, expel demons. YOU received free, give free "
Very nicely said. It seems the golden calf was replaced by the golden pulpit and a big screen tv.
post #14 of 16
The Catholic Church I attended when I was going up did not have good money managers. They were always and still 40 plus years later not out of debt. My lessons learned in church-none as it was always about money...so I never learned what one was supposed to remember. Even though I have admired several churches in the UK and Europe-times were different then. I would rather have a more humble looking church and a good priest than the flash. But different strokes for different fokes.
post #15 of 16
The religion I belong to does not have paid ministers. Everyone does thier part and no one is paid. All of the buildings and missionary work is done by volentary donations and voluntary labor. There are no collections and no tithes. The focus is on the bible and we are taught from the bible everytime we meet for services. There are some out there that are doing what they should be doing according to how Jesus taught.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
In most communities today, you can't know all of your neighbors intimately, which means that if there isn't some kind of central organization and system of oversight, abuses often occur (not that they never do WITH oversight, but it's less frequent). When people volunteer funds for a project, who keeps track of that money and how it is spent? So, I have no problem with "organized" religion, only with organizations that come to resemble corporations more than churches. You CAN go waaaaay overboard (by the way, you may have noticed that I appear to have decided how I feel about the church next door. . . ) Plus, the most inspired sermons I have ever heard have come from paid ministers, mostly because since they are paid to do it they can (and should, if they are right for the job) spend a lot of time during the day studying, researching and discussing issues that the rest of us don't have time to focus on (not if I want to finish that project at work) except in shorter segments of time.
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