Thursday, April 03, 2008

Buildings and Wages in Western Church?

The Christian church has created a bit of an issue I believe and that is the drain that buildings and wages has on its purpose.
It's pretty much common knowledge in church circles that the larger percentage of a church's resources / funds, are spent on the inner goings on of church itself. When I was in a formal ministry role, something like 40% of all income was spent on the pastor's wages. It raises questions for me and the validity of paid pastors. What also is an issue is the dollars spent on buildings, maintenance, technology etc so that a church stays functional.
I have to question whether this money spent really fulfills the purpose of church. Is it not more like Jesus to give to the needy, use the funds for mission in some form, more than on the inner sanctum, more than the importance of the Sunday service?
I can't help but think of the church from the perspective of people on the outside looking in, especially here in Australia. What they see is sometimes a fairly well-to-do institution that can come across as judgmental and middle class. A fair target for an Aussie's tall poppy syndrome. Would it not be more effective if it was humble, generous, more concerned with the community around them and heavily grounded in reality, functioning for the purpose of people?
Where your heart is will probably determine where the $ are spent.


Mork said...

You got my vote on this post - good stuff.

I notice you do Timbercrete, out at Tambellup, they started late last year with the product with a group of Aboriginals. I was involved at the start when we were shown how to make the bricks. They have made the product and have just completed a Silver Trowel course, the wood fire oven they built looks great.

Glenn Globber said...

Thanks Mark. Yeh, the big boss I think is heading there very soon. Could be some good things to come!

Mike said...

Your right. I think something is really wrong, and the impact could be damaging.

Most Churches spend about %90 of their income on internal activites or programmes.

It is time to change.

Mike said...

Ok I couldn't let this go. I had to post on it as well.

Anonymous said...

Hey Glenno,

I'm having a few problems with some of this discussion. the essence of it i tend to agree with. there is alot of money spent that could be better spent on more community orriented ministry & mission. my question is, whose going to do this community mission & ministry. if i look at my week (i'm paid 3 days a week as a local church pastor in a largish, multi staffed church with a pretty big budget & a new facility)much of my time is spent helping people in our church community to fulfill the call of God on their lives. eg - I am the Scripture in schools coordinator for our local primary school. i have 9 teachers to coordinate, 470 students hear the gospel every week & the school community is responding & begining to connect to our church community. sure, this could be done by the guy who is the CEO of a local company, but really, will it???
I know there is more to this argument & i certinally don't want to sound cynical, but isn't the main thing to work towards using as much of the resources God gives us as possible for mission while still maintaining relevance to the community around us. like just the other day - 3 weeks into our new facility, a guy & his daughter walked in off the street to listen to the band practice for our sunday night service. he left before the service but last sunday he brought his wife along & they stayed for the service & met a whole bunch of people and are keen to keep comming (oh did i mention that they never go to church). Now that's got to be good surely.

I'm actually proud (in a good sense) to be a part of a church that is having a missional impact in our community. i could cite some stats like, 26% of all our giving goes direct to the mission field. well over half of our staff are employed 1-2 days a week to fulfill roles that are totally devoted to Mission & engaging people in our community in mission.

This being said, i know that there are plenty of churches where not much is going on & the congregation are like a big sponge n the time of the only employed pastor. but please, don't throw the baby out with bath water. there's alot of good kingdom seeds being sown through the ministry of local church pastors who love Jesus & love to see & help their people engage in the Mission of God.

Cheers mate


B. E. Wheatley said...

Good Post

I wrote about this myself not long ago...

Glenn Globber said...

Neale, great to see ya round these parts, sorry for the delay. Haven't had the time for blogging at all!
I hear ya and you and your church were certainly in my thoughts when posting. It sounds as though, from what you wrote and what I've heard about your church there is ceratinly a unique culture that is very involved in mission and doesn't just want to play church.
I guess i have written the post to try and think broadly about whether or not there are other ways that the church can function effectively without spending so much $ on buildings and wages.
Something that I've thought about since my first post that I didn't take into consideration was that often wages are paid from 'givers', people who want to support those gifted for ministry by financial means. This is great! However, I question whether it always happens like this or whether people see it as such. The problem I feel that has occurred through the payment of wages is that the church body can pay others to do what they also may be gifted for and therefore stand back and are lax to be involved. I wonder whether the church would be more functional if more giftedness was discovered and mobilised than relying on employing another pastoral role? Maybe one person could drop one day a week of work knowing that they're already getting an adequate yearly salary and serve to be the scripture in schools coordinator, just as an example. I just think that maybe the current structural church may hinder the body from really achieving all they can be. I'm not saying it's disfunctional I'm just dreaming of something that could more reflect Jesus. It's highly probable that what you have experienced as church is much more like an NT church than what I have experienced and the giving levels, love shown, the encouragement of gifts etc is much greater as well. So, i can understand if there's difficulty in what I write :) Still though I guess I'd like to think that Jesus being presented here in Australia could become more than the building on the corner or the person paid to use their gift? Don't worry though, no babies and baths being thrown yet:)

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