My transoceanic brother Christopher Dryden shared an article with me from The London Evening Standard. Once I translated it into American, I was a little stunned by what I read. Read it and then a few comments....
Church of England sees investments grow by £500m
The Church of England said today that its biggest investment fund has grown by £500 million over the past year after a strong performance.
Investments grew 15.2% in 2010 with the value of the fund rising from £4.8 billion to £5.3 billion, the Church Commissioners said.
The closed fund is used to pay clergy pensions for those in service before 1998 and to support cathedrals, bishops, mission activity and parishes in the most needy areas of the country.
Five billion pounds. If you convert that into real money, that is over $8.6 billion dollars. In the bank. So that the institution can be perpetuated and its employees get their pension. Meanwhile there are millions of people who are without the Gospel across England and the rest of Europe and countless people worldwide. There are people who are hungry, orphans that need homes, etc. and here is a church that has parked billions of dollars in investments.
This is played out all across the church, from small local churches to megachurches. When I worked in banking it was amazing how much money local churches had socked away. Six figure savings were not uncommon and a few had over a million in cash. Those that didn't have a bunch of money saved often had a ton of debt. Not every church of course but it was not isolated. It is considered "good stewardship" to save money for a rainy day because churches have expenses that have to get paid every month. The most important budget consideration is ensuring that the bills get paid every month and if possible that future expenses are being saved up for.
Does it seem sometimes that perpetuating the institution is more important than proclaiming the Gospel?