I want to bring over a slightly edited archive post from one of my other blogs at RedLetterLiving.net for this Sunday’s post. It is from March 13.
I’m not sure who brought up the concept but it is about how churches are actually more like clubhouses than anything else. They are buildings that are built almost exclusively for their members comfort. Yes that comfort does bring in some to hear the message but that seems to be very secondary at best.
I had a recent round of comments on this topic and it stirred up some heated words. It seems that calling a church a country club strikes the nerve of many Christians. I think the ounce of truth in it is the reason. Everyone wants to think that their church is somehow different from the others. They want to think that what they give in weekly donations is for the greater good of God. But, facts simply don’t bear that belief out. The majority of what they give stays within the church’s hierarchy.
When I was giving regularly to the small church I once belonged to I never deemed that the money I gave actually went to God’s work here or earth. Being a regular member on the church board I realized that 99+% of what I gave ended up paying the mortgage, utilities and the pastor’s salary. Did I feel guilty about that? No, not really. I know that this small church was struggling, and still struggles after almost ten years, to keep the doors open. There is nothing wrong with needing a clubhouse.
But what is wrong is when we fail to recognize the fact that we are really not doing much in the community besides holding down a property. We try to rationalize that giving a few families a turkey and canned goods during the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays somehow meets our community obligations. Being a church is supposed to be about showing God’s blessing throughout our communities. It is supposed to be about others and not ourselves. When we finally acknowledge that fact and diligently plan on making community support happen is when we turn the corner from clubhouse to church. Sadly too many small churches fail to ever reach that point in their congregation’s life.
I am often accused of painting with too broad a brush in these types of posts so I want to recognize that there are many churches out there that are very much valuable contributors to their communities. They run soup kitchens and food banks in the areas. They open their doors on cold and windy nights for those who are homeless. In other words they act like they are followers of Jesus Christ. I celebrate every one of those churches. But at the same time even those churches must be constantly tracking their allocations of funds. It is impossible to give too much to your community instead of yourself.
Everyone needs a clubhouse that you can go to weekly. Where everyone know your name as the old Cheers TV show used to say. That is a valuable part of Christian fellowship but we must constantly remind ourselves that is supposed to be very much secondary to being our brother’s keeper and helping God’s kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven.