Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Is it time for church sponsorship?

(Also published on the Laidlaw College Blog)

So the All Blacks are in discussions with potential sponsors who will place their logo on the centre of the jersey front. The English have the big Oa on theirs, the Springboks have Sasol, the Wallabies have Qantas. But the AB’s have been able to stay free of this dominant logo. Traditionalists are up at arms, crying foul. They want to keep the jersey pure. “No longer All Black” is the cry. Forget of course that Adidas already have their logo on it. Others concede that nothing can stop this, as it will yield the cash strapped NZRFU a way out of their financial predicament in these hard times. Should they sell their souls?

This got me thinking about church sponsorship. Should be fill those big spaces on the walls and notice boards of churches with corporate logos? How long will it be before churches go into partnerships with big companies for sponsorship? The church notice board could have a big golden M, or have the coke or other logo all over it. The side of the church, somewhere near the cross or communion table, could have a big “Sponsored by…” sign on it.
This would solve all our problems of paying the pastors the enormous salaries they need to show that God blesses the special and obedient. It could help pay for the cracking ceiling, the new sound system, the youth ministry, the church camp, and more. We could at last feed the poor. We could make the church eco-friendly. No longer would the people of God have to dig into their purses to fund the church, it would be secure.

After all, many churches are already kind of doing this by taking money from the breweries and gambling. Why not put it out there, “This Church is Sponsored by …”?

This could solve the problems of traditional churches facing declining numbers and buildings—they could rebuild them! People would flow with the glossy product, hot music, good looking and well dressed people, and the glorious oratory. After all, we could actually hire professional speakers and speech writers to improve the sermons. Whole denominations could go into partnerships with big corporations who would get great bang for their buck. Such things are so tempting in an age where money talks, where a good looking church set up requires on-going funding that is beyond many congregations and denominations.

Actually, I expect this is already happening and someone will respond to this blog telling me that their church or other has a sign to this effect on the door—I pray not.

The whole thing of course is corrupt and flawed. Tempting though it is, and arguably justifiable (then again maybe not), it is a return to the patronage system Jesus came to set the world free of. A system where one gives, in part, to get something back—especially their “name” enhanced. The recipient too must submit to the desires of the patron—it is quid pro quo giving. Christian giving is no strings attached. It demands nothing of the recipient. It is “on the quiet,” the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Corporates are free to give, but not as sponsors—their giving should be anonymous and from the heart like it all.

The only logos (note the play on words there) on the walls of churches should be dedicated to the great giver, God, Father, Son and Spirit. Unequal yoking is to be avoided, especially where the god of mammon is concerned. Whether the All Blacks yield, and I am sure they will in this day and age, and why not in this system, churches must not! What say you? 


Jonathan Mafi said...

I still think that there is more than enough money among the parishioners for things God would have the local fellowship do.
Especially if there is much much pooling and sharing of resources among the people.

Anonymous said...

Provocative as usual.

All churches need to be funded. I will not discuss the need for and disbursement of funding but rather its sources

The funding should from the parishioners, however the parishioners are few and reducing and have less of surplus from which to give.

I give out of the net rather gross earnings because I am just not that committed to the church (local and general) and I have never given regularly more than 10%. I have given large amounts when I have been flush or have seen the great need. I suspect a lot of people are like me. I like the idea of giving regularly but as any money I give is discretionary my discretion is always to hold it for a rainy day (not a holiday).

In short I am a “free loader” or in game theory a “defector” or in zealandish a “bludger”

In giving I am not concerned about how much the other guy gives because that is private likewise I am not concerned of his opinion of me.

I might change if I knew how much was required to run our parish and what would be my responsibility to pay. Expense $pa/Employed Parishioners #. Then I would make a commitment to Emma to pay it. It would not be regular because of my circumstances but it would be a personal challenge to meet.

Of course if I were flush I would help others.

I suspect that levying is not biblical and a little bit selfish but that is only a suspicion.


Anonymous said...

NIce, i like the comparison Mark via All Blacks conceding etc...

I'd be interested in seeing what corporate structures move into Brian Tamaki's KOG?

I find it fascinating the contrast between branding and the gospel. And churches buying into this model. If churches continue to build there congregation on a model thats used to build corporate companies, then surely something has to give surely people become disillusioned and surely Pastors/Bishops who consider themselves servants become the benefactors and CEO's of such monstrous machines that no longer preach the gospel, instead they sell a lifestyle.

Having said that what do you think about a Les Mills type church? The catch phrase could be Evangiphysical- The church on steroids?

Gene said...

Hmmm. Everything smacks of attractional church. Should Christians be building anything that seeks to satisfy their own desires? I asked Godz people on Sunday what their lives would look like if Godz mission took prime place in their hearts. One could sense the 'gulp'.

The financial plight of many churches (in my humble opinion) has only grown as they seek to become 'relevant' in the world. It is very much a performance-attractional model that thinks 'if we build it they will come'. All this relevance costs money. The minister becomes the CEO running relevant programmes to make those who attend the programme feel good about themselves. If Mark thinks that patronage is not godly perhaps he could comment on relevance.

Of course, to pay for all the flashy new equipment and buildings I guess we could just use locum ministers and pay them according to whether or not we like what they say. Perhaps this too is already taking place.

In the long run it will be stipendary ministry that suffers because our investment in material things will become a greater priority in the name if good stewardship. If only the stewardship of souls could take the higher ground perhaps a few more would be joining 'church'.

Howard Carter said...

From a Presbyterian perspective I seem to remember having a big disruption over such things in the 1800's. And in my recent endevours I have to admit its hard to live with the idea of who pays has the say.

Christine said...

The sad thing is is I think this happens more often than we care to think about. For example, and you did note it, there are many churches and church projects that are funded by the lottery commission which I find rather odd to say the least. And to hear it justified by the fact that 'lots of people have an issue with gamboling, so lets do something good with the money' is jaw droppingly naieve.

But thinking of patronage, I have been in churches where, if not corporate sponsorship, patronage has been visible. The families that give the most or pay for the new wing of the church etc I have seen use this in order to get some leverage in other matters within the church. I one circumstance it worked and in another, God bless him, the pastor told them in no uncertain terms exactly where they could take their money.

In a world run by money and obssessed with it it is no surprise that it finds a way into our churches. Perhaps instead of tithing speeches in churches we should talk about manipulation through money...would make an interesting sermon

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