Monday, October 09, 2006

Do We Need More Churches?

In answer to the question, “Do we need more churches?” many cities are saying an emphatic “No”. According to USA Today churches are being turned away by cities and towns that hope to enliven a fading downtown or boost their tax base.

“There's more interest than ever in attempting to exclude churches and other houses of worship,” says Kevin Hasson, president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “They say they don't want churches there. They want something that generates tax revenue.”

Kenly, NC; Stafford, Texas; Miramar, Florida; Titusville, PA; are some of the cities listed that have concluded that more churches would be detrimental to their communities. It’s a case of choosing economics over faith.

Hey, I understand the argument and I’m sympathetic to cities that are trying to provide services to their citizenry in the face of escalating costs. And, I’ve seen many a church that never made much of a contribution to the well being of a community.

Let me hasten to say that I love the church, I’ve committed my life to serving God through His church and I believe that the church is the hope of the world. I really do. The church is entrusted with the gospel, the message from heaven on how to have eternal life. The church is the steward of the ministry of changing lives.

However, many churches have taken the notion of “don’t let the world corrupt you” to mean, “don’t be involved in your community.” As a result churches often act like leeches. Once you get involved in a church then you are no longer a contributing participant in the community.

About 3 years ago someone asked me the question, “If your church no longer existed would the city care that you were gone? Would the city even know that you were gone?” Great question.

From that point it became clear to me that God not only wanted us in the business of “changed lives” but He also wanted us in the business of “blessing the city”.

“When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices…” (Proverbs 11:10)

I want our church to be so involved in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, aiding those in recovery, counseling those who are confused, encouraging those who are losing hope and equipping others with basic life skills, that if our church should disappear the city would greatly mourn our absence.

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