I had a conversation with a family member recently, 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.
They wanted a cut of the cookie dough.Churches: you aren't here to make money, you are here to love and serve your neighbours, even… Click To Tweet
I was flabbergasted,are you kidding me? Now I understand that churches have operating costs when it comes to owning and managing a building, particularly a building 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 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” and he gets it out of Philippians 3 and the idea of “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” This 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, 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.