Recently a friend of mine told me of a budget meeting that they held at her church. Lately the church has had scores of members leave and its numbers continue to dwindle fast. These facts provide a framework for a very uncomfortable meeting as the money coming into the church is in short supply.
I don't grieve over dwindling numbers in dying churches. In fact the meeting gave a perfect opportunity for the members of this church to show where their treasure is. I wish I could say it was good news but it wasn't. What I learned is that many of the people who had in the past greeted me with a smile and welcomed me (and especially my babies) into their fold (and more importantly their nursery) behaved in a very un-Christlike manner when faced with decisions about what to do in the economic crisis facing the church.
I want people to realize the trappings that come from having a "church" that belongs to them. Forming some THING that is named and claimed eventually leads us to think we have can control and authority over it. It just goes to show how counter productive it is to have a piece of real estate and a set of facilities can be to the life of the body of Christ. There are endless distractions associated with buildings such as maintenance, bills, and staff. So much money and so much effort put into preserving this THING leaving no money and no time left over to serve one another.
Serving, exhorting, admonishing, teaching, loving, etc. one another is what the church should be in the business of doing. Instead, what we do is build structures and systems and programs to help us do that and ignore the fact that the things we build take us away from what we should be doing. It is time to ask what we love. Do we love Christ and one another or do we love our building and its system of programs?