4.22.2009

the biggest loser: church edition


The times have made it some slim pickings for churches and non-profits out there. You can sense the desperation when it comes to the financial outlook. Donors supporting these churches have taken a hit to the groin—or they imagine they have—and so giving has dropped and the churches income streams are diminishing.

There is no doubt there is some serious strain out there, but in many cases the cry of desperation appears a little silly. For some, it is kind of like listening to an obese person say “I am starving!” “Sure your feeling hunger pains, but let’s be honest…” It is like the person who lives in a new half million-dollar house, has their kids in private school, and drives a shiny car (or two), who complains about how tight things are these days. The fact of the matter is that many churches are sitting on debts for large building campaigns and have been operating with the mindset that all this stuff is necessary for ministry.

I think that—like the hit show The Biggest Loser, which has risen in the face of our obesity crisis—it will be the ministries that can shed their unhealthy weight who will win in the face of our financial crisis. Rather than trying to increase the income stream, I believe our churches should be thinking hard about how to get back to basics. Like an addict who believes their chosen indulgence makes life possible, we have been seduced by the world’s standards of success, and so high overhead has become the necessary path to success. But it is not, and we know it is not. A friend of mine from Zimbabwe—a country whose financial crisis makes ours look silly (e.g., their 94% unemployment)—tells me about western churches who come to build their churches new buildings all the while the fastest growing movement is one that meets outside under the trees. Do we believe ministry can be done with little to no overhead? I believe the winners in this time will be those who can shed their unwanted pounds and become slim, fit, and healthy. The biggest losers.

Painting is "Diverse Community" by JEM

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