Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Banging this drum again

Repost: The Voice Of One Crying Out In Suburbia: Speaking of haranguing the institutional church

I read a post today on The Gospel Coalition blog regarding church buildings by J.D Grear: We Want to Stay Light and Mobile, Flexible and Ready. His point was that the church should seek to be minimalist in its buildings and that when churches grow, they should plant more churches in a minimalist fashion rather than adding onto the existing building at great expense. The conversation reminded me of a post I put out earlier this year that I wanted to put back out there. It is staggering to think that the church has tens of billions of dollars worth of real estate that sits mostly empty most of the week.


So while I was looking up the statistics on the Southern Baptist Convention, I was reading this report from Lifeway. It was instructive to see that in 2009, based on survey results, the total value of congregational property in Southern Baptist Churches was….


That is a pretty big number. Even more so when you look at it per church and subtract out the churches that weren’t surveyed (Illinois: 1100; Georgia: 3600; California: 1800; Kentucky 2400). That leaves 36,110 Southern Baptist congregations and when you divide the total value of congregational property by 36,100 it comes to an average of $1,129,176.87 per church. Now again there are lots of churches that don’t have anywhere near that number but there are also lots of churches with a lot more than that. Lots of SBC churches are older and are sitting on pretty nice real estate on a large lot. If we were to sell our possessions, starting with Southern Baptist congregational property and distribute it to our brothers and sisters as any have need (Acts 2:45 ), can you imagine what an impact that would have on the church?

Another interesting number. Total mission expenditures in 2009 was $1,334,157,703.00. That is a huge number! When you compare it to total receipts of $11,912,179,313.00 (a number that doesn’t include California), it comes out to about 11% of total receipts. So almost 90% of all receipts in the Southern Baptist Convention go to pay expenses other than missions (no definition of that was provided). Of the money that goes to missions, much of it is run through the North American Mission Board, International Mission Board or other state/national denominational organizations which takes a cut as well. I think it is fair to say that less than one of every ten dollars in giving goes to missions work. That is pretty poor for a denomination that centers around cooperative work for evangelism.

1 comment:

Tim A said...

Greer thinks he's being strategic about minimalist buildings. Yet he thinks special buildings are "required" to do God's work, and if the building is not increased in size, "turning people away" will result. This indicates Greer is stuck in the same institutionalized system of church box just like all the others with their cathedrals. He is only talking different - no different actions. The cost that is much bigger than the cost of real estate and buildings is the yearly staffing budget. When added up year after year it dwarfs the building costs.

The key figure to observe that would indicate if anything different is actually happening to add up all dough that goes to minister to the folks right there and the dough that goes beyond the alleged givers. If the dough that goes beyond is 15 - 25%, then Greer is just like every other church.

Greer is giving lip service to bringing the gospel to all nations. His actions demonstrate that it is more important for the saints here to get 500 - 1000+ professionally prepared Bible lectures during their life, than for those who have never heard should hear once.