Why Are Churches Horrible Stewards Of Their Buildings/Property? I’ll Tell You Why

And Jesus said, “Build some very nice buildings. Keep them Levitically clean. If anyone messes up your buildings scold them and restrict them from being in the building for ten years. Nothing is more important than building, maintaining and protecting God’s house.” (Goofed-up Bible, Mark 38:1-3)

Why are churches horrible stewards of their buildings and property? I’ll tell you why. Because the control freaks in churches have a Fort Knox mentality and for them the worst thing that can happen is for something on the property or in the buildings to get messed up. That’s a really messed up view of church and Jesus, isn’t it! Why do we let it happen? Why do we worship our property and buildings as if we are worshipping God?

Why are so many church buildings way under utilized during the week? Why is a church’s property not utilized to feed or house the poor? I know you don’t have a lot of time to think about these questions or act upon them. It takes a lot of time to take care of your church buildings and property.

And God forbid the church have some headaches trying to follow Jesus. The church has a lot of headaches, just not the right kind of headaches, headaches from trying to make the world a better place, headaches from long term relationships with those in a ditch, and headaches from full incorporation of them into the church as equals and teachers of the gospel.

My oldest brother is a clergyperson too. He is the Pastor of McGill Baptist Church in Concord, North Carolina. McGill is using its land to feed the poor. They also, among other things, let a Jewish synagogue use their building free of charge.

IMG_2873 IMG_2875 IMG_2876 IMG_2878 IMG_2883

If they keep it up we are going to have to start calling McGill something other than a church. They aren’t acting like the typical church. Thank God!

It’s really hard for me to believe you believe “all lives matter”

all lives matter

You say “all lives matter” in response to “black lives matter,” but if you really believe “all lives matter”:

  • Why is your church so segregated?
  • Why are you public schools so segregated?
  • Why do black children go to bad schools?
  • Why do you live in such comfort when so many people are homeless?
  • Why do you live in such comfort and so many mentally challenged people have been forced to live on the street since President Reagan’s presidency?
  • Why are black people incarcerated at higher levels than whites?
  • Why do you not care about Hispanics who seek a better life in our country?
  • Why do you prevent transgender human beings from using the bathroom of their gender identity?
  • Why do you treat LGBTQ people as if they have less rights than you have?
  • Why do you support an economic system that creates a super rich class?
  • Why do you not support health care for all?
  • Why do you work against legislation that protects large companies who harm the environment, particularly in locations where the poor live?
  • Why do you tolerate women being paid unequally?
  • Why do you treat Muslims as if they are non-human?
  • Why do you turn a deaf ear to those who are different from you and either assume they are perverts or lazy?
  • Why do you vote based on your own economic interests?
  • Why do you have no close friends who are not of your race or economic class?
  • Why do you think a few good deeds are sufficient?
  • Why do you think the emphasis such be on “all lives” when so many lives are lives of comfort and so many people are barely surviving day to day?

It’s really hard for me to believe you believe “all lives matter.”

black lives matter

“How To Love The Church and Rich People” or “Rich People Can Be Really Harmful To A Church”

money23233 reduced

Clarence Jordan, who founded in 1942 in Americus, Georgia an interracial community named Koinonia Farm, tells a story about how big givers in a community can be dangerous for a community and for themselves. He writes:

We had a lady one time come and visit us at Koinonia. She was a very lonely lady. I’d say she was in her early forties. She came up in her old jalopy car and she was rather shabbily dressed and we talked to her several days. She said, “You know. I like it here. I believe I’d like to just live here.”

We said, “That’s fine, we’d be glad to have ya.”

And she said, “What do I do to join up?”

“Well, just come on and join with us. I presume you don’t have much. You can just stay on.”

She said, “Oh, well, I have a good bit of property down in New Orleans.”

“How much do you have?”

“Oh, I guess I own maybe own $90,000 worth.” (By the way, that’s $1.4 million in today’s dollars.)

“Well,” Clarence Jordan said, “the first thing you’ll have to do is get rid of that.”

“She said, “What do you mean? I can’t do that.”

“But then you can’t come here,” Jordan replied.

“But I can’t give away my possessions. Suppose this thing were to fold up and I had given away everything I owned. Then where would I be?”

“Then you’d be in the same place as the rest of us would be.”

“But can’t I bring my money and put it into Koinonia?”

“No ma’am, this is the one place you absolutely can’t put it.”

“Why? Don’t you all need it?”

“Yes, ma’am, we sure do.”

“How come I can’t put it here?”

“Well,” Clarence paused. “Well, one reason is you got more money than all the rest of us put together, and if you want to put all your money in here, the first thing we’d do would be to sit down under a pecan tree and start discussing theology. We need to work. We don’t need that kinda money. It’ll make us lazy and it’ll make theologians out of us. And,” Clarence continued, “in the next place, you’ll be, in your mind, sort of our guardian angel, and you’ll expect each of us to tip our hats to you and thank you for what marvelous things you’ve done for us. We don’t tip our hats to anybody, and we don’t want you comin’ in here with a lot of money. And, in the last place, the reason you can’t bring it here is because you look like a very lonely person, and unless I miss my guess, the only friends you’ve ever had have been those who have wanted to help you spend your money.”

The woman said, “Your right. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a real friend who loved me for what I am. They’ve always loved my money.”

“And if you bring that money here, you’ll always have a sneaking suspicion that the reason we wanted you here was not for who you are, but because of your money. And the only way you can get a clear answer to that is to go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and come back here without a dime, and then you’ll know whether we love you for who you are or for what you have. You’ll get your answer.”

She said, “I, I just can’t do it,’ and she got in her old jalopy and drove off.

As the woman drove off, Clarence Jordan turned to his wife and said, “There goes the female rich young ruler. She wanted to trust her little $90,000 when she needed to learn to trust in God, whose riches are untold.



The Christians Can Get Really Pissy: The Story of Why Some Wedgewoodians Despised Donna Carter


The Christians can get really pissy, and perhaps they are pissiest when it comes to their worship preferences, which they equate with the one true way to worship.

In 1989 I became the pastor of Wedgewood Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, which, believe it or not, was a progressive/liberal church. Wedgewood had women deacons, a female deacon chairperson, divorced deacons, and a female was chairperson of the pulpit committee. Decades before I arrived the church had been thrown out of the Mecklenburg Baptist Association for not requiring people to be rebaptized who had not been immersed. In 1989, the congregation, though it had 170 in worship at Easter and Christmas and 110 on a typical Sunday, thought it was on its last leg unless something happened fast. The church said it wanted to grow.

Saying you want to grow and wanting to grow are not the same thing.

We did grow, but the new people who came in were not pleasing to some of the powers that be, who by the way, were and are incredible people. My response was, “You know, we really can’t be picky. There aren’t that many liberal Baptists and there are three other incredible liberal Baptist churches in Charlotte from which liberal Baptists can choose. Tell me again how we can be choosy.”

The first disturber of the peace was a woman named Donna Carter. Donna had the audacity to laugh loudly in worship. (Please note Donna was laughing at something the minister said, not at him. Or, that’s what I’ve always thought.)

Ironically, Donna Carter is now Miss Donna Carter, a professional, as in paid, as in headliner at comedy clubs, comedienne. She describes herself as “a Southern Belle with a heart of cornbread.” She proclaims “fat women don’t wrinkle.” Miss Donna describes her exercise program of mall walking and doing really well on the program until she gets to the Cinnabon place. Miss Donna is hilarious, and we are so proud of her.

Do you think Jesus would prefer worship with laughter or worship without laughter?

Actually, I think Jesus would like for us to realize people worship God in different ways and to learn to bless distractions. I think Jesus would like for us to be less narcissistic, more “me for the community” and less “the community for me.” That said, it’s hard to have “blended worship” unless you’ve got some pretty mature and inclusive people. There is value in silence and there is value in laughter.   Mostly, there’s value in community and love and humility.

There have been decades when I was not sure Wedgewood was going to make it. We got down to 20 people. One of the things that gave me hope was opening the mailbox and finding Donna’s weekly check to Wedgewood.

Thank God for people who keep hope alive in us, who make us laugh, who laugh loudly, and thank you for people who teach us the value of silence and community.