6 minute read
I had a conversation with a family member, she was talking about the difficulty she was having finding a new rental home for her Girl Guide troop. The problem she was having was that some of the churches she was approaching were asking so much money that the troop couldn't afford to rent any of them. One church even asked for a cut of the Girl Guide cookie money.
That’s right, they wanted a cut of the cookie dough.
I was flabbergasted by this. I mean, are you kidding me? A cut of the dough? A piece of the action? This is not the kind of language traditionally associated with churches. Now, of course, I understand that churches have operating costs when it comes to owning and managing a building, particularly a building that would be large enough to host a scout or girl guide troop. However, I really have a problem with churches who see this as an income stream for them as opposed to an opportunity to love and serve their community. My own policy is to charge some nominal fee or a donation, the amount of which can be determined by the organization.
Churches: you aren't here to make money, you are here to love and serve your neighbours, even the ones you disagree with. Especially the ones you disagree with.
I understand that there are considerations when a group asks to use church facilities. The Girl Guides in Canada have been linked by some within the Evangelical right to pro-choice groups and I can understand the discomfort that churches might feel in indirectly supporting a group that might, organizationally, hold to a pro-choice position. Two things about that discomfort: first, it should exist in far more than just the abortion debate. As Christians, most of what the secular world does ought to be at least a little bit discomforting. Matt Chandler uses the phrase “holy discontentment” Essentially, this is the idea that there's a base-level discontentment that we should have with the world, with the way the world is because it is not yet the way it ought to be. Sin still exists and permeates everything around us, death still exists, and people chase happiness rather than Jesus. If you really want to shelter yourself from the reality of moral issues like abortion in North America, you're going to have to find a pretty big rock and it's really hard to be salt and light to an outside world from inside a cave.
Sheltering ourselves from those with whom we disagree is actually the opposite of the mission Jesus put us on. We are called to be salt, light, and good witnesses for Jesus in a world that has rejected him and his mission and values. We can't do that if we say no, if we disengage from people who hold views that are in opposition to ours. I'm not saying that we ought to open our doors and invite in groups that are in direct opposition to Christ, but really, the Girl Guides? Scouts Canada? Ultimate Frisbee leagues? Indoor Quidditch teams?
This isn't about income for churches, this isn't about standing up for what we believe in, this is about the mission we are on, and how we are perceived by those we are called to love.
Churches, love your neighbours; let them use your space.
As a Biblical conservative, a cultural Liberal, a husband, a dad, and a pastor, I want to see the church act differently in the world. My big passion in ministry is to see how believers can bring the Gospel into the world around them while pursuing the lost art of winsomeness. It is what fuels me and drives me to write. Engaging culture with the truth of the Gospel in a way that is winsome, wise, and as Colossians 4:6 directs us: “seasoned with salt.” It’s my hope that what I say here helps you not only in your own faith, but helps you share it more effectively and fruitfully.
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