Banking on God: Church Finances, Part 2


Yesterday, I mentioned the problem of cost overhead in our churches. It’s a big problem, too, as many of you thought your church should spend its money on more important things than mortgages and office supplies.

Let’s not talk about those first. Instead, I want to alienate every pastor who reads this blog by tossing out one word: bivocational.

I look at it this way: We should most definitely pay our pastors. We should also pay the head of the children’s ministry. In fact, we should pay a lot of people, because, let’s face it, the church secretary is truly the one who runs the church. Next to the Lord, that is.

I think those folks are worth money. However, I also think we spend too much money on staff salaries, especially at these massive churches that have 100+ people on staff. That’s nuts. And it’s a big drain on the mission of the church.

How so? Well, we somehow found a way to separate the lowly from the priestly class, a sort of sequel to the Old Testament’s temple system, the very system Christ fulfilled and therefore put to rest.

That separation gave us a full-time clergy and the “well, someone else is doing the ministry for me, so I’ll concentrate on everything that isn’t ministry” laity, an artificial distinction that pretty much denies the idea of the priesthood of all believers. As George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm, some are “more equal than others.”

In many ways, this has been a train wreck for pastors because no one treats them like a fellow brother in Christ. They are not one of us, so to speak, a view that facilitates all manner of craziness (cults of personality, depression, marital infidelity, and so on) that derails churches left and right.

Still, the greater hurt comes when those who aren’t “professionals” decide to lay down and do next to nothing to advance the cause of Christ. Sadly, under the bifurcated system of ministry we have today, that’s all too often the outcome.

Which is why I believe that pastors need to have a job outside the church. Even if it’s only a small part-time job, the pastor needs that dose of reality, that connection to the life his flock leads. Talk to some pastors and it’s all too clear they have no idea what goes on in the cubicles today. (I know. I read books by pastor/teachers talking about the modern work world and they just have no idea.) That works against them in many ways. I remember a pastor who preached that it didn’t matter what you looked like or how old you were, yet at the same time there were people in his congregation who were getting Botox injections so they wouldn’t be the old-looking one in the office and therefore subject to the first pink slip when the next round of downsizings came.

But more than that disconnection with the world of their congregations, having pastors work in the “real” work world affords churches the chance to have more than one pastor. A church could hire two pastors for the cost of one if both worked outside the church a few days a week. For a lot of churches who can afford only one pastor, having two bivocational pastors for the price of one full-timer would open up many more options and better broaden the giftings of the leadership in that church.

I also think that having bivocational pastors forces the people in the seats to step up. And that’s always a good thing. No one should be irreplaceable, even a pastor, and the more the congregation takes over the roles it should be handling apart from the lone office of the pastor, the better for their church.

Like I said, that won’t curry me any favor with the pastors who read this blog, but that’s my stance and I’m sticking with it.

I’m also going to quote this:

And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
—Matthew 17:4

Our tendency in the Church is to want to pitch that tent. This is why we have so many church buildings. In 2007 dollars, the price tag would have been $55 million...That tendency is also why the Lord Himself oversaw the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. He wanted the Church to get out there. To move. To not be tied to one place, to a building that can so easily become like cement shoes.

When it comes to church finances, for many churches, that church building has become the impediment that keeps them from running. Its very convenience slows them down, keeps the people thinking small, keeps them stuck in one place, imprisoned by a multi-million dollar mortgage.

But the temple? Well, you are the temple and so am I. Wherever we are is where the Church is. The Light moves where we move.

Track revivals around the world. Those revivals last until someone decides to pitch a tent, until the building committee comes together. Then it quietly peters out. That’s why revival burns bright in Chinese house churches and not so much here. It’s why God is using the poorest of the poor in today’s world to be the best evangelists of the message of Christ. They don’t even have the money for the tent so many others want to pitch. Somehow, making do with what they have is good enough for them. Because they’ve got another paradigm, a heavenly one.

I can’t help but think that our churches can be better by making do with less. By not being tied to the earth by wealth any more than a lone individual should be. Yet you look at so many church building projects and they seem a lot like this:

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
—Luke 12:16-21

I look at that passage and it’s all too easy to see a church enamored of numbers talking about even bigger numbers and a place to store them all. Tearing down the old church building to build an even bigger one, and in the process losing sight of what really matters to God.

As Americans, I think it’s knit into our DNA to have a building. The American Dream’s foundation is built on home ownership, and I suspect that ideal translates into our compulsion to erect a church building. And just as nature abhors a vacuum, a church abhors being plain. Funny how expensive it is to rig up a church building for maximum entertainment and comfort value nowadays.

Between paying staff and paying for a building (and its upkeep and utilities—ask to look at the electrical and heating bills sometime), a big chunk of cash goes away from fulfilling the overall mission of the Church, especially as it pertains to the world outside the walls of that very building.

I think a church that ran without a full-time pastorate and a semi-utilized building would find itself less burdened by titles and mortgages and more burdened by the lost. It would be a church that cornered on a dime rather than running up on the sidewalk like a semi.

It’s a hard sell, though.

I keep hoping some day that we get a flat-tax or value-added tax in this country, but then you’ve got an entire industry of tax-prep and legal people screaming bloody murder that their livelihood—based as it is on the arcane, cryptic mess our tax code is—will up and go poof. I’m sorry, but it needs to up and go.

And so it is with the way we do church, especially when it comes to spending too much of our money on things that may not be advancing the Kingdom. Too many people are deeply invested in the crusty institutions our churches have become. They’ll find a way to hang on kicking and screaming, resisting what may be better for us in the long run, so that they can maintain the status quo.

Unfortunately, the status quo ain’t doin’ all that well for us anymore.


Banking On God: Series Compendium

41 thoughts on “Banking on God: Church Finances, Part 2

  1. Trevor

    Hey, good post Dan. I’ve never thought about that Luke passage in the light of church buildings.

    Last year I was spending my weekdays working in one town and my weekends in another, so I got to notice just how many church buildings were only open on Sundays. A vast amount of money is being spent on buildings that are seriously under-utilised.

    On the other hand, just occasionally I come across a church that is making good use of it’s facilities throughout the week to serve the local community, so there are positive examples out there too.

    • Trevor,

      You’re right. I do make blanket statements sometimes. I think it’s the nature of the blog beast and op/ed writing to be that way.

      Yes, some churches make excellent use of their facilities. Interestingly, many use their outlying buildings a lot, it’s the sanctuary that sits empty for most of the week. Makes you wonder if another model would work better, a model that would use everything. Or two churches could share the same building. You see that a lot with English/Spanish congregations. The English-speaking Lutherans let the Spanish-speaking Penetcostals use their facilities and sanctuary on “off” nights. That’s a decent model, but I think we can go even deeper and more radical than that.

      • Dan wrote:
        …but I think we can go even deeper and more radical than that.

        Yeah, we can have morning, afternoon, and evening services seven days a week so anyone can come at any time to worship and fellowship, no matter what his or her schedule.

          • An out-of-town minister visited my home fellowship last night. He mentioned a house church that has services at 9:30 PM Saturday nights so young retail employees can attend. Sometimes the services go until 3 or 4 AM.

  2. Don Fields

    Yep, a very hard sell.

    As a full-time pastor I am not upset with you for what you wrote. I’m just glad that none of the people in my church read your blog. And now it is going to stay that way! 🙂

    As I was filling out your opinion poll I had a Holy Ghost moment (strange for a cessationist) and knew this was where you were headed. And as I have been thinking about these things over the last week I would say that I agree with you 100%! It would probably do me a lot of good (for all the reasons you mentioned) to work a part-time job. It would also do the church much good to have a smaller mortgage and less upkeep on a building. As a pastor, I have seen pastors of all kinds, myself included, literally drool in worship over facilities. Buildings have become idols for many in the pastorate, as they are one of the greatest (supposed) indicators of success and impact. Now we have moved from buildings to campuses. Rick Warren in “The Purpose-Driven Church” talked about the danger of giving buildings too much emphasis, and now look where Saddleback is. The mega-church movement appears to be leading us down a Christian Commune path, where everything we need to live will be found “on campus.”

    Sorry to ramble. Thanks for the excellent thoughts!

    • Don,

      As I was writing this, you were the one pastor who came to mind most, and I certainly didn’t want to alienate you or any of the other great pastors who read this blog.

      You had a better Holy Ghost moment than I did because I did not have any intention of talking about bivocational pastors when I started this series. I’ve always been torn on the subject whenever it comes up. I offer it here in the spirit of inquiry and what if. I know it’s not a popular position to take. Even now, I’m less convicted about that issue than most I tackle here.

      I remember reading a book by a pastor recommending this and that, and the first thing that came to mind was “This guy hasn’t worked a regular job in 30 years.” His advice seemed to be completely out of touch with most people’s work lives today. I kept thinking how different his messages would be and his counsel to hurting people if he actually experienced what they did day in and day out. Indeed, some pastors ARE out of touch with reality. Of course, many are not.

      I know one pastor who frequents here who actually has two jobs outside his pastoral role. I don’t know how he pulls that off, but even if a pastor worked sixteen hours a week outside his church (and the church could pull in a second pastor who did the same thing), I’ve got to believe that would benefit everyone involved.

      A trend I’ve been noticing is older guys who have worked in the biz world for years moving into the pastorate. I like that they can bring that “been there” perspective. The downside is they may want to run their church like a business. My pastor went straight into business right out of high school and retired from his company at a relatively young age. Now he pastors a church and does a stellar job. He avoids the tendency to turn the church into a business, too, which I really respect. Best of both worlds, I would say!

      As for church buildings, I am more and more convinced that they are albatrosses around the necks of too many congregations. The sheer cost to build a thousand-seat church today is astronomical. Maintaining it is just as difficult and pricey. Look overseas at the Chinese church and you’ll find a vibrant faith and few, if any, buildings. We Americans can’t wrap our brains around that idea.

      I’ve been a part of churches that had hundred-year-old sanctuaries, built new, rented, or had an older sanctuary they were still paying on. The renters always wanted a building to call their own while the folks with the new building were going nuts trying to find out why their projected giving went down during a recession and how were they going to pay for their shiny Christian warehouse now.

      There’s got to be a better way. I’m just hoping we can explore other options and be bold in thinking about enacting them.

      • Dan wrote:
        …the folks with the new building were going nuts trying to find out why their projected giving went down during a recession…

        During the bust, friends who worked at a missions agency told me missionary applications went way up as the stock market went down. I wonder if applications are up again? It reminds me of this verse: “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread” (1 Samuel 2:36 KJV).

        • Michael,

          My father once told me that the ministry was made up of a lot of men who failed at everything else. While that sounds really cynical, you still come across some of those guys for whom you know that’s exactly the case.

          • Until last October, I had been in animal agriculture since graduating from college in ’76. Turning corn into ethanol has been the death nell for a lot of folks like us.

            The conventional wisdom of my parents and grandparents was that if a man couldn’t farm, then he could preach. During the last farm crisis of the ’80’s the common wisdom shifted somewhat…if a guy couldn’t farm, then he could teach.

            I’ve seen several who couldn’t teach, so, they moved on to preaching.

            Don, I suspect that the office of “pastor”, as normally understood by many, isn’t itself, along with the ediface complex, a major contributor to the problem you are aptly describing.


            • Tom,

              Thanks for writing.

              Not to be a scourge here, but isn’t the trend toward grass-fed beef anyway? That’s where the money seems to be, not in grain-fed. As a small farmer myself, I value your insights.

              I definitely know where you’re coming from on the vocational pastorate issue.

          • Yes, I suspect that the trend will continue to include more grass/roughage fed beef. Calves now spend less time in feedlot consuming high grain rations than what was typical in the past.

            I think that beef producers now have the genetics available to market acceptable beef with minimal grain feeding. Beef feeders will bid away the byproducts from ethanol plants.

            The last time grains took a bounding leap into the stratusphere, as they have in the past year, was in the early 70’s when the Russian market opened up to US grain. High grain prices were a significant factor when I graduated from the U of Arkansas in ’76. When the Russians invaded Afghanistan and Jimmy Carter cut off the flow of US produced grain to the Soviets…well, that was the beginning of the “farm crisis” of the ’80s and the first phase of global deflation which continues into the 90’s.

            Though in the past we produced a few feeder calves, our bread and butter was feeder pig and early weaned pig production. We grazed our 200+ sow herd on pasture, but even the best of pasture will only substitute for about 25% of the energy/protein that is normally consumed in corn/soy rations. Pasture is nearly worthless as an energy/protein source for growing/finishing hogs. (There is little of that “best of pasture” in NW Arkansas…and absolutely NO grain production.)

            I certainly enjoy learning from your insightful treatment of the topics you deal with. Pastors thinking in terms of “bi-vocational” would certainly be a good starting point. I just don’t have the time to wait around till they “get it”. We’ve stepped out of the old game entirely. We’ve done all the other stuff, now we’re coming home to the basics.


  3. Diane Roberts

    Forty years ago, if you visited a seminary in this country you probably would find the huge majority of ministerial candidates in their twenties, having gone straight from college to seminary. However, in the intervening years, something strange has happened. The average age in seminaries today has risen dramatically. Many pastors now are entering the pastorate at an older age, having worked at a secular job first. This is good news. Also, if you read Dan Kimball’s book, “They Like Jesus But Not the Church,” he suggests pastors do what he finaly decided to do; take their laptops and prepare their sermons and do their other work in a local coffee place. He said that is where he really met people outside the church. He also saw how hard the barristers and barristas worked at the local Starbucks. Pastors today talk a lot about reaching out to the community, but do they ever really see it themselves? I think Kimball’s suggestion is a good one.

    As for your two part-time pastors, an interesting idea and one I never had thought of. I will have to mull that one around in my head a bit.

    • Diane,

      Great minds think alike! I just replied to Don on this very issue of older guys with business experience going into the pastorate. While it is good news, it can be bad if they try to run their church like a business.

      I agree with your comments on Kimball, too.

      The two part-timers idea came to me as I was writing this series. I haven’t developed it much. I think it has many benefit, especially to a smaller church that would not ordinarily be able to afford two pastors. I think that getting a good who is good with people and a guy who is good with organization and vision can really help a church. Some churches have one or the other and wind up missing out on some things, especially if the church culture is such that only the ideas and leading of the appointed leaders is deemed valuable (which is a tragic mistake since it cuts out the non-professionals, but that’s the state of the church today).

  4. Eliminating clergy and buildings would be quite a shock to academia Dan.. imagine an America without seminaries and bible colleges.. what would all those teachers do if they couldn’t make a living teaching the teachers.. maybe those institutions and professions would also have to be multi-purpose and bi-vocational.

    And maybe Christian evangelists, musicians and writers.. they too could be bivocational.. moonlighting preaching, writing books and songs and giving concerts at night while they work their real job during the day.

    This could evolve into something.. whoa.. back to reality here.. most of us are too lazy to work that hard 🙂

  5. Never hear that Peter, Andrew or John kept on fishing or Matthew collected taxes. I wonder if Paul’s tent-making was the norm or the exception?

    I wonder how good you can be at anything if you do it part-time? My experience tells me that jacks-of-all-trades are generally not masters of anything. Seems to be a recipe for mediocrity if we setup rules around it. Some can probably handle bi-vocational ministry but probably not all.

    Still processing…

  6. connie

    Well, at our church our pastors see their job as equipping US for the work of the ministry. This is the only church I have ever been to that raises up their own people to do stuff right and left.

    I have to say I do agree with Kansas Bob tho. Altho some church jobs lend themselves to part time and even volunteer status (I myself work as an unpaid volunteer assistant to a ministry) many do NOT…after all if Pastor Joe has to stock shelves at Piggly Wiggly instead of be with a freshly bereaved family at the hospital, we have a problem.

    But your main point about pastors getting out into the real world? I say amen, and I recommend they go have a 2 am weekend meal at their local Waffle House on a regular basis. 😉

    • Connie,

      But if the church had TWO bivocational pastors instead of just one full-timer, that issue of not being available wouldn’t be there. And it’s also true that more of us need to pick up the pastor’s slack.

      One of the crazy things in some Pentecostal churches is the emphasis on “the five-fold” ministry. We want our pastors to fulfill every office of that ministry. And that’s not what Paul was saying. Let the pastor be the pastor and the evangelist the evangelist. There’s not a church in this country that would not benefit if we stopped trying to cram all the ministry work onto the pastor!

  7. Leta

    So long as both part time pastors get health insurance, bivocational clergy seems like a good idea to me. However, given the huge cost of health insurance, it seems like that option would become cost prohibitive, especially for smaller churches. Especially considering that few non-clergy jobs offer health insurance to part time employees. So I dunno. I think this is a promising idea, but in practice there may be some serious obstacles.

    Our materialism is so funny, isn’t it? It’s easy to forget that “church” is an abstract noun (wherever believers gather) rather than a specific material one (a particular sort of building).

    It’s sad, too, how buildingless churches are looked down upon by so many.

  8. Geoff

    I couldn’t agree more with your post. I served as a young adult pastor in a medium sized church and was constantly wishing I could work outside the church and actually get to know the types of people I was trying to reach. Long story short, i grew so desperate I resigned my position, took a job in the “secular” world and have never regretted it. I am now starting a ministry that is not going to be a source of income for me. My “pastor” friends are puzzled when I call them and don’t ask for financial support. My job keeps me grounded, and free to let my ministry be an encouragement to people not a plee for funds to feed my family.

    Working to support myself has made my ministry dreams possible and a whole lot more fun!

  9. Amy Heague

    Great post (once again!) Its got me thinking. Don’t think I have a great revelation to share, just everyday realities & struggles….
    My husband & I are assistant Pastors, unpaid by the church, there is not the funds to pay us, in many respects I’m not even sure they should & I can see how the sharing the wage thing could work.
    The biggest struggle we currently have is shifting the old in trenched view that the Pastors do EVERYTHING, & don’t have a care in the world but “leading” a Sunday service.
    I believe it is a season as a church we are moving out of, but in the mean time my husband works full time to support us. He has been blessed with a flexible job that allows us to give as much time as possible to our church commitments, but I gotta go with Bob on this one, jack of all trades, master of none. One or the other will ultimately lose out. There are only so many hours in the day. So while I agree with you in theory, I really just don’t know how that is possible. (just sharing every day struggles… don’t for one minute think I leave God out of this equation…) So I guess until the shift comes that you are talking about, there are many Pastors out there working the double shift until the rest of the congregation catches up.

    • Amy,

      I know my opinion doesn’t ultimately change the world, but I think all pastoral staff needs to be paid until we reach that unreachable day when everyone in the seats is doing the work equally. So that includes you. Your church can always give you something.

      We think that money doesn’t matter for that kind of service, but it does. That truth came painfully home this week as I know someone who stepped down from their volunteer position running the children’s ministry at a church. That person took another job outside to make ends meet and the responsibilities at that job made it that much harder to run the children’s ministry. If that person had been financially compensated by the church, at least to some level, I suspect that burnout would not have occurred.

      We just don’t seem to get this connection between work and ministry. That baffles me. It’s the least talked about issue in our churches. People have to make a living!

      I know that in the fallout of that church losing its children’s minister, people will be baffled as to why it happened. I know pastors who are baffled that they can’t get men to step up and run all these in-church ministries and the leadership has to step in and do it. Well, those guys are spending ten to eleven hours a day working their job. The American work week is close to 50 hours now. Throw in even longer commutes and pressure by parachurch ministries to be the perfect spouse and parent by spending quality time with your loved ones, and there’s no time left for church.

  10. David Riggins

    This is a tough one “in our day and age” because so many of the changes asked for are interdependant. Much of the paradigm shift has to do with definitions: What is a Pastor, what is an Elder, what is a lay-person? Our church is looking for a pastor, and I personally don’t think we need one. We place so much importance upon this person, and much of what we expect of him is what we should be doing ourselves.

    Connie brought up the idea that a pastor should be with the bereaved instead of stocking shelves, and one of our elders brought up the same argument. But why do we depend on a pastor to do that? That is the role of all of us, not one special person. If one is unable, then another is able. Have we been taught that a piece of paper is required for taking care of the flock?

    We are so focused on this commercial concept of the “professional” pastor, with a degree from a reputable college, that we overlook the duties we are all called out for.

    And so we are stuck in a catch-22, that we as a body must change in our beliefs about spiritual leadership, and our leadership must change in order to bring about that very shift in the belief of the body.

    It need not close our bible colleges, as our leaders should have a foundation of good theology, and it need not shutter our church buildings, as we all need a place to meet in fellowship, and church builing is as good as a storefront. But what does need to change is our hearts: Less dependant upon the word (and coin) of men, and more on the revelation of the Spirit. More willing to serve than to be served, more open to correction than to correct, and more disinterested in the things of this world, including its philosophies about what constitutes “success”.

    If the body of Christ must be encouraged to increase giving in order to pay for a minister, then perhaps “giving” should not be the topic of the day, but rather “maturity”.

    • Don Fields

      It seems like Acts 6 would be a good place to start the discussion of pastor, elder, bishop, deacon, layperson, etc. Did the Apostles have jobs? Did they still work, or where they supported by the church? It is obvious that their main responsibility was The Word and prayer. So when other needs rose up there needed to be more leadership – deacons. Even if a pastor/elder had a part-time secular job I don’t think it would hinder him from his main tasks. But it would guarantee that he couldn’t do everything else that is expected of pastors today.

    • David,

      That interdependence is what makes all the changes I talk about on this blog difficult to enact. Not impossible. Just difficult.

      The problem is we gave away things in bits and pieces. The only way we’re going to get them back works the same way. And that’s a tough sell when people are enamored of the faulty way they do things.

      Sadly, I think that culture drives the Church. When the culture gets more environmentally conscious, the Church will. And that’s bassackward, as they say. It’s also dangerous because the Church winds up giving away important truths that it should instead be hammering home. Like I’ve pontificated before, the American Church in the late 1800s, caught in the postmillennial frenzy that it was, completely folded in the light of industrialism. Yet today, nearly every social ill at the heart of our culture has some connection back to that concession. (This is not to say that sin, in general, is not the cause, only that industrialism amplified its most dangerous effects.)

      One good trend is that seminaries are realizing that they are wrongly turning out theological brainiacs who have not one shred of serving ability and have taken steps to rectify that situation. Good for the seminaries—and good for the seminarians, too.

      So amen to everything you said. And thanks for always contributing great comments!

  11. Scott

    loved the article. only question the pre-cursor, throw the pastor’s a bone statement,
    I look at it this way: We should most definitely pay our pastors. We should also pay the head of the children’s ministry. In fact, we should pay a lot of people, because, let’s face it, the church secretary is truly the one who runs the church. Next to the Lord, that is.
    It may be presupposition based on an earlier paradigm to assume an obligation based on one verse by Paul. why is it that we suppose that a pastor should be paid, except to allow the freedom to do the work of the church multiple hours per week. incredible freedom. perhaps a pastor with a full-time job would have to lean on the parishioners to do the real work of the gospel.

  12. Dan,

    Five years ago circumstances caused me to work. I now own and operate a small general construction company, a new and growing apiary, pastor a small faith community and teach American Government/Civics. the church does help with electric bills and such, but we use or funds to help the community where God has placed us. Our Sunday meeting place is FREE and slowly but surely we are reaching folks who have been sitting on the sidelines. My wife and I often talk about how seminaries and pastoral training schools have made a mess of this…we are free and will never go back. I love pastoring again, it is no longer a burden, but a great addition to my walk of faith…

    • Jimmy_C,

      You’re proof that it can work.

      I’m curious, though, how large your flock is. I would think that as your church got larger, it would put more pressure on you to lay down some of your “extracurrilcular” work to concentrate on pastoring. Not saying that you can’t pull off your current situation, only that it would become much more difficult to do so.

      • You assume I am looking to grow a large church. I do believe I am to assist our community in making followers of Jesus. I believe that is best done in a small faith community. The Chinese church has prospered with communities of faith being smaller than twenty. They do have millions of these churches that meet in and impact local geographic areas.

        My “extracurricular” work is how my family is feed…they(my family) are my first responsibility. A small community of faith cannot support a pastor and family. My church growth outlook does not match the current view of “mega-church or die”. I feel the present USAmerican church model to be dangerous and unsustainable to local communities. My sadness is in the fact that now we are exporting that model to the world.

        • Wow Jimmy.. I love your heart and I so agree that our USAmerican model is a faulty one.. not sure that I’d call it dangerous but understand why you would.

          So much of the USAmerican model is built on the pulpit ministry and attracts folks that want to teach and be seen rather than shepherd in a less visible manner. Sadly, many seminaries seem to be encouraging this model.. turning out teaching robots instead of relational shepherds.

          Blessings, Bob

  13. “Our Sunday meeting place is FREE”

    Wow Jimmy.. something jumped inside of me when I read that.. could it be that we religious types have instituted a Sunday morning cover charge?

    ..still processing..

    • Kansas Bob,

      The “meeting place” is on the Main St of a growing “rural” community 18 miles N of Raleigh, NC. During the week it is a bar and grill on Sundays it is closed. The owner also provides the coffee each morning. He is a good friend, fellow traveler and part of our faith community. we leave there around 11:45am and go eat together as a family.

      We also have a “meeting” place further N into the county. It is 1.5 miles off of I-85 in a HUGE red barn. During the week, it is a cattle auction center and Ag building. It is owned by the counties most wealthy curmudgeon and God fearing man. I hope and pray he becomes a God follower.

      After four years of this, we are just beginning to see folks meet us who want to know God…it is exciting.

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