This is going to be one of my “ranting” posts so be hereby warned! I try not to do them often but….
Some say institutional maintenance has become the prime work of the “church”. As a whole we Christians spend anywhere from 80% to 100% of our collections maintaining our buildings and paying our staff. The rest is either saved for a “rainy day” or dribbled out for other causes. After spending the last month blogging about the Quakers and their focus on simplicity I thought it would be appropriate to apply some lessons learned to other Christian organizations. Quakers very purposefully keep their worship facilities very sparse. Historically they spent very little money on staff but I think that has been changing recently. Like Saint Paul their ministers got their financial resources from their “outside” jobs. I can’t say that is generally the case today as I just don’t know.
Given the large number of exotic cathedrals loaded with icons the Catholic church has perhaps the largest institutional maintenance of any religious organization on this earth. They also have a very complicated and heavy vertical hierarchy than any other religious organization. Both are a very expensive undertakings. But that does not mean that Protestants are immune from the concept of spending their resources almost totally on themselves. Most Protestant ministers receive salaries very much in line with private sector counterparts and given that some of their buildings rival even the most elaborate of Catholic churches they spend much on their “clubhouses” as well.
I would propose that Jesus’ teachings indicated that the primary mission of using our resources was meeting human needs and seeking transformation of its members not building elaborate icons to God. I think we need to do a lot to discern between the institutional church and the spiritual church. Should they have the same priorities or different ones. It is nice to go to a very comfortable clubhouse each Sunday but is our members creature comfort really the kingdom work that Jesus had in mind?
So, to link this back to the previous posts, I think other Christian denominations have a lot to learn from their Quaker brothers in how to put priority on the use of their resources.