What would happen…


…if churches shut their buildings’ doors, gave the members their contributions back and encouraged them to invest in their neighborhoods or community?

What ministries would suffer? Who would be left behind or neglected? What good could come of that?

Just a question floating around my head since Sunday.

Any thoughts?

Note: I believe this idea originated with LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, CO. They’re not shutting their doors, but they are exploring giving some contributions back to the members for community investment. That’s about all I know, but I thought it was pretty intriguing.

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  1. Carl Cravens
    August 7, 2008 at 11:13 am — Reply

    That kind of thinking has run through my mind… all this money goes into to the church to support… the church. But then the church doesn’t always do a great job of doing what it’s supposed to. In the business world, if we invested money in a business that then failed to do the expected job, we’d stop investing the money.

    When I was between churches, I sent my tithe to Heifer International and Kiva. I really feel like my money has done more good there than it did going to a church that supported a pastor with seven kids, and a youth ministry that wanted to spend thousands of dollars every year to send teens to a resort town in Mexico to do maintentance work on a church building “because it’s a great experience for the youth.” Yeah, what it teaches kids is that mission work is about spending lots of money to physically go somewhere yourself. Better to have sent a couple thousand dollars to the church to hire a local guy to do the work.

    I like that Central sends its youth out to in local the community, and to work for people who need help, not for a church that needs painting done.

    I’m in favor of networks of house churches, myself, so long as they can all keep their doctrine on the mark. Much lower over-head.

    But if churches did what you suggest, I think that there are a lot of folks who wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. Church is a routine… it’s Sunday morning and Wednesday evening, and it’s comfortable and safe. And we all need a certain amount of comfortable and safe, but I think we get too much of that.

  2. steven
    August 7, 2008 at 12:20 pm — Reply

    It’s the cynic in me, but I’m willing to bet that people would take that to mean, let’s buy a house in a nice neighborhood and invest in the house and then spend all of our time inside watching tv. but, i could be wrong.

  3. August 7, 2008 at 1:19 pm — Reply

    It is really cool that we could ask 2 churches to support the work we plan to do in Peru. It is nice for people to have one address to send money to in order for them to support the work there.

    What if we asked churches to spend the majority of their budget on spreading the Kingdom throughout the world instead of the majority being spent on upkeep of a building?

  4. Bobby Rozzell
    August 7, 2008 at 3:42 pm — Reply

    1. Building committees would spontaneously form
    2. Bible printing companies would close down since no one would buy more than the one they wanted.
    3. Orange carpet industry completely collapses
    4. Lots and lots of angry people who didn’t give but can’t understand why the church is not giving them a “fair share” any way.
    5, Westboro Baptist declares itself the only official church in the world..oh wait.they already do that.

  5. […] August 7, 2008 · No Comments Todd adds his own lyrics to Imagine and asks us to imagine what would happen if… churches shut their buildings’ doors, gave the members their contributions back and encouraged the… […]

  6. MC
    August 9, 2008 at 8:23 pm — Reply

    A local church did a reverse offering, telling people to take the money out of the contribution plate and offer to someone else as a random act of kindness. It was the Unleashed campaign at Gracepoint. Check out this link and read the stories.


  7. August 11, 2008 at 8:38 pm — Reply

    The truth? A large percentage wouldn’t get anything back.

    I’ve never felt obligated to give to a church if it isn’t doing anything to impact the community. In the past we gave to Children’s homes like Maude Carpenter and others. We supported children around the world.

    At one stop we doubled the output of the church by matching everything the church did so we defacto doubled their benevolence.

    The elders may not like it but it can be done.

    Now since our church did nearly $5,000 worth of dental work last week at no charge and since we gave school supplies to nearly 600 students with 540 getting a backpack our members don’t have to worry about whether or not their giving impacts the community. They get to see it on a regular basis.

  8. August 12, 2008 at 8:38 am — Reply

    When you say invest in the community, do you mean on your own or thru an organization? From my experience, 1. people would not really know how to best invest if left to their own, 2. too many non-profits (such as United Way) have WAY too much overhead and only a fraction of your money goes to actual help and 3. giving any money to a Govco run charity is just as good as throwing it down the drain.

    Now, I am not naive enough to think that churches don’t have needless overhead or waste but, for the most part, it is much less than other national non-profits and big time less than Govco.

    The comment that many people would just take the money and go buy a bigger house….yeah, no doubt.

  9. August 12, 2008 at 10:05 am — Reply

    Churches would no longer be in the business of merely continuing their own existence. Without paid staff to do the work of the Kingdom for them, people would be forced to either engage in doing Kingdom work together or disengage from Christianity. I’m afraid most would disengage, which begs the question, were they ever really engaged in the first place?

  10. Jeremy
    August 15, 2008 at 11:28 pm — Reply

    The parish I attend is the focal point for many ministries, all of which would fade if the parish wasn’t there to encourage and support. It would be nice if we could bypass the building upkeep and general friction of maintaining a church community, but we can’t. The parish is the focal point that draws us into stewardship, without it, there would be no ministries. To respond to Sam, yes they would disengage, and that is why we support our parishes, so they don’t disengage. Some would fight the good fight, but most need a nudge. That is why the church is here on earth.

  11. kristin
    August 18, 2008 at 12:50 pm — Reply

    hm, interesting blog. i hope churches dont close their doors (well, not all of them). i think we need both…”big” church and “house” churches. our house church fellowship keeps back 10% of our giving for each home church to invest in our communities and neighborhoods however God leads us to. I think its a great thing…an invaluable resource for us. none of us do “big” church anymore but like i said, i think both can be good things. both can be bad things.

  12. kristin
    August 18, 2008 at 1:01 pm — Reply

    you know, this begs another comment from me. its a little off the subj from what you are actually asking here but i discussed something on sunday with our group and that is one of our favorite topics, “the Priesthood of all Believers.” After all, Peter calls us a “royal priesthood.” In other words, we are to be kings (or queens) and priests. you cant really have one without the other and be fully what you are supposed to be (thats the conclusion i am at right now). anyway, churches closing their doors would hugely impact this idea (which i believe is at the heart of God). Sams post reminded me.
    in Ex before Moses ever even brought down the 10 commandments there is a time where God has the nation of Israel (newly freed slaves) at the base of his mountain (the one where he told them if they touched it, they would die. i believe this to equate to flippantly approaching the presence of the Lord). Anyway, he asked them at one point (and they could all hear his voice right now) to approach the mountain. I think he was inviting them to ALL be priests bc if you will remember no “priesthood” like what we came to know later had been established at this point. scripture says they all went and stood far off. They feared. They told Moses they didnt want God to speak to them. They wanted God to speak to him and they would listen to him (Moses). Anway, this is extremely profound and i wonder, just wonder, if Israel had approached the mountain that day (the darkness where God was) what would have happened! how would history be different!?… if we would have ever had the Levites become the only priests….etc.etc.etc. it kind of makes my mind want to explode thinking about how the history of religion and, therefore the world, would have changed if Israel had approached the mountain that day. (and yes, a lot of the “that is your job and my job is to come to church” mentality has seeped into the coc).
    Anyway, this story makes me think, among other things throughout the Bible and even right down to Revelation, that Gods heart has always been for all of us to be priests…to usher in the Kingdom wherever we are in our own special way (always connected to him)…pointing others to Him.
    Anyway, churches closing their doors and therefore empowering (or forcing) the church to take matters into ALL of their own hands would highly impact the Priesthood, I think.

  13. August 19, 2008 at 7:31 am — Reply

    The other question is, “If we closed our doors, would anybody notice? Would our community change?”

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