I highly recommend this blog article entitled The Decline and Fall of Charity, posted at Culture 11. It gives some statistics about what amounts of money churches take in and what is spent on site and what goes to other charities. It is an eye opener. I'm bringing it to the attention of the Stewardship committee tomorrow.
I attended a wedding at a church in a suburb that is known to be on the high end of the income distribution list, so to speak. Certainly the bride and groom are not in that group, but apparently, the groom attends church there. This was about the largest, fanciest church building I've been it. It was beautiful even though it was very modern. There was much that was unnecessary to the furthering of the telling of the story of Christ, if I may be so judgmental, such as many indoor trees. There was a large baptismal pool, even though the denomination is solidly in the infant baptism camp. They are going to remodel the pool. I asked about the church and somebody told me that the church was known for working on justice issues. It was not the time to get into the details of that, but I did wonder how much justice there is in spending on a beautiful interior when only 8 miles away, there are people destitute in freezing cold apartments.
Our church has been working on a building remodeling plan for several years and we are finally in the last steps of the actual engineering plan before there will be a vote. Given the hard economic times, closing of several (some of the only) large employers in the area, I do wonder if the vote will be "yes." And will we be able to get a loan to complete our fund raising? Within my household, there has been discussion about the virtues of this project: Are we feathering our own nest at the expense of other issues/causes that our church might support? Should we commit our fiances to this cause or give more to other causes we already support?
My opinion prevailed; we are supporting this remodeling. The major reasons are 1) our church building is heavily used (maybe 500/week) by the community at large, so this is part of our mission, and 2) much of the building is quite worn out and needs much work, such as insulation, new windows, roof (which currently leaks), the furnace is about dead, plumbing is bad, and many areas are poorly lit. I think much of this needs to be done even if the vote is NO.
However, in the grand scheme of things, we do have a large building with many rooms, and we do a good job of ministry in that old building. It is better than much of the world has.
How does your church give beyond its walls and how does it feather its own nest?