Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Have Jesus, Need Money

I got an email today addressed to “fellow beloved Missouri Synod brothers, sisters, pastors and church leaders.” It was from a congregation in Ohio requesting funds to help them buy their new building back from foreclosure.

Formerly named “The Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer,” the congregation moved from Silverton, OH ten years ago twenty miles away to one of the “fastest growing communities” in Ohio, Hamilton Township. They renamed themselves Crosspointe Community Church (www.cccforyou.com).

Fun fact: Silverton is 45% white, 50% African-American, with a median household income of $35,117. Maineville, the central city in Hamilton township is 98.6% white, with a median household income of $55,714. Loveland, OH, the big city just 6 miles away, is 95.7% white with a median household income of $52,738.

Things went well for a while, with growth and success, but after a while, the financial situation went south. Now the congregation is sending out requests to sister congregations of the Missouri Synod (most of whom probably still retain the moniker “Lutheran” in their names) to ask for money.

I’m not offended at a congregation’s request for assistance. We’re all members of the same Body of Christ, and so we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. And, when possible, we help others through money and labor.

But congregations close all the time. Christ established His Church on the rock of Peter’s confession, and the gates of hell will never triumph over the Church. But congregations wax and wane. Even when planted in a “ripe mission field,” a congregation is not promised tomorrow.

So what’s the difference? The “ripe mission field,” of course.

Why are congregations in wealthy white suburbs with self-described exciting worship worth saving while an inner-city parish or a rural one is not? Don’t people in areas that aren’t growing quite as quickly need Jesus? Don’t the members of The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Silverton, OH who were unable to drive 20 miles to Crosspointe Community Church (or maybe they just couldn’t find it in the phone book after the name change) need Jesus?

Why when a congregation with regular, liturgical worship (the kind you find in a red, blue, or burgundy book) folds, it’s because they were too close minded or refused to adapt to the times? But when a congregation that is “like many of today’s exciting churches” with “meaningful and relevant worship” featuring “‘high-energy,’ rockin’ Christian praise music” faces foreclosure, it’s merely a matter of unfortunate circumstances?

3 comments:

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Perhaps God's hand is working through the bank, here.

prayeramedic said...

Damn dude, I love your blog. So when are you taking a call to Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland?

prayeramedic said...

P.S. I wrote a post addressing this issue that I'd love to get your feedback on. It's called "Jonah-itis and Church Segregation." It's at http://prayeramedic.com/2009/01/jonah-itis-and-church-segregation/. I'd love to hear your thoughts, I couldn't agree with you more.