Are you a Conventional, Institutional, Traditional Church leader or
member? If so, think with me for a moment:
What would happen to your church if the Federal, State or Local
government suddenly determined that all non-profit corporations, all
churches were required to pay property taxes just as home-owners and
business-owners currently are required to pay?
Shocking thought, isn't it? I daresay the majority of "church"
enterprises would go out of business overnight.
I have ministered in and with the Underground Church in three
nations. These Christians would not know what a "pew" or a "pulpit"
or an "educational wing" are, but they know what it is to walk in
love and in fellowship and in the exceeding joy of relationship with
Jesus and with their brethren.
For most traditional churches, their very identity as a church, as a
missional entity, as a representative of Christ in the earth is
centered on a physical location, a building of some sort. Without
the sanctuary, how would a local community know the church exists?
If your church is "average", you are currently obligated to pay a
monthly mortgage on your existing facilities and property. I spent
25 years as a senior pastor in the "conventional" church world. I
wrestled each of those 25 years with annual budgets that included
(sometimes astronomical) costs for utilities, repairs, upgrades,
maintenance, property insurance and other mandatory costs of "doing
business" as a church.
Coupled with the necessity of establishing a budget for all these
needs, since we were a "church", we also desired to fund various
local and foreign missions enterprises. More times than I would like
to admit, our mortgage payment or some unexpected repair precluded
our ability to respond to important and worthy missions requests.
WE TOO OFTEN FOUND OURSELVES UNABLE TO REACH
THE HURTING BECAUSE WE WERE TRYING TO KEEP OUR "CHURCH-SHIP"
FLOATING, LET ALONE TOSS A LIFE-LINE TO SOMEBODY ELSE!
The recent tragedy that drew the world's attention to New Orleans,
Louisiana points to another consideration: In New Orleans and the
parishes that make up that once-great city, generations of Christian
men and women sacrificially gave of their hard-earned money and time
in order to build sanctuaries and educational wings and chapels -
structures that testified to their surrounding communities that the
church was alive and well. In mere hours, multiple life-times of
giving and work and dedication were simply and devastatingly erased.
Nearly every believer in Christ would be quick to recognize, "The
church isn't buildings and programs, the church is people." Good
point, and true. And since it's true that the church is people and
not buildings, have you wondered why the lion's share of funds
and energy are poured into building buildings and not in building
With the horrible images of Katrina's aftermath fresh in our minds,
we might rightly ask, "how will the church in New Orleans ever
rebuild, ever recover from the devastation that struck out of the
Gulf of Mexico?"
With the potential of government taxation of church properties that
could result in the loss of those facilities we might ask, "If we
lost our building today, where would the church be tomorrow?"
Perhaps the answer to these questions will be found in the
Cathedral's of Hearts and not in the Places of Worship.
In His Abounding Grace,