Armchair Missionaries

I just finished looking at last year’s budget for an independant Baptist church located near me.

Here are the numbers based on their 2012 budget…

  • Missions outside the church and church area- $25,819. This represents 12% of church income. This is good. It basically represents a tithe plus offering from the church to missions. But what more could they be doing. Look at the numbers below and you’ll see.
  • Ministries involving the church and church members- $23,236. This represents 11% of church income. A balance with the missions figures is a great sign, but both are still a pretty low percentage of the total.
  • Buildings and Land including purchase, payments, improvements, and maintenance- $104,346. This represents 49% of church income. This percentage is disproportionate to church averages nationally and compares closely to the values represented by churches that have been foreclosed on, shutdown, or who were forced to sell their land. I’d be very cautious with this item. It also show a misplaced idea of the importance of the church’s true mission. Cathedrals and mosques are built on percentages like this.
  • Banking & Insurance- $5805. This represents 3% of church income. Some of this percentage could also be added into the Buildings & Land category as well.
  • Marketing- $0 There was no noticeable item in the budget that represented outreach to tell non-church attendees about the church. I’ll let you read into this what you will.
  • Staff- $45,894. This represents 22% of church income.
  • Office- $5657. This represents 3% of church income.

It is the pattern of churches to focus outward when they start because they see the need to attract attendees. As churches grow and become more established, the funds, activities, and purchases become more insular and primarily exist only to satisfy and feed the established church members. In other words, established churches stop looking outward to the world and end up becoming a microcosm, a small world that exists only to assist the regular attendees and is fed financially by the attendees.

Another way of looking at it is to realize that church members give money for programs, buildings, and benefits that only they themselves realize and enjoy. A less polite way of looking at it is to see that most established churches are self-serving for their members and not the rest of the world. Most established churches only assist foreign missions and outreaches through missionaries, or straw men, who represent the church and do the work of the church so that the members can stay at home, be comfortable, and rest in the fact that they’ve supported foreign missions, even if they only did so financially. Established churches are mollified by regular prayer letters, visits from missionaries on furlough or deputation, and photos of brown people on slide shows instead of going out on mission trips and visits to the missionaries.

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