I’m serious here.
There is an apocryphal story, almost certainly not factual, but a good story nonetheless. Let’s call it a parable. In the thirteenth century, Pope Innocent IV was in the papal coffers surveying the vast collection of coinage in the church’s treasury. St. Thomas Aquinas, out for an afternoon stroll, stopped by for a visit. Standing amidst all the wealth, Innocent called out, “Ahh, Thomas, no longer can we say, “Silver and gold have I none.” Thomas replied, “But neither can we say, “In the name of Jesus, rise up and walk.”
I live in a small, southern Appalachian town, population around 8,000. As nearly as I can find, we have about 45 churches. That’s one church for every 177.7 citizens. If, on average, the churches have three staff members, we have one minister for every 60 or so folks in town. And just by driving around, I would estimate we have at least $20 million invested in our town’s church facilities.
Of course there are some real doctrinal issues that separate some of us, but there are over 20 Southern Baptist churches in the town and nearby area.
I have been in enough of these churches to know that it is the rare church in our county that is half filled to capacity. I recently had a conversation with a young seminary graduate who was moving as a church planter to a small town with church demographics not very different from ours.
Why are we investing Kingdom money on more and more churches, more and more staff? To what purpose? To what end?
99% percent of all evangelical giving in the U.S. primarily benefits other Christians.
So let’s plant another church in a city that already has a place of worship on every corner.
100 million orphans in our world—90% of whom have never heard that Jesus loves them.
So let’s make sure that our seminaries produce five times as many pastors as missionaries.
1/3 of all children in the world have no access to adequate food, clean water, or an education.
So let’s add a new family life center to our empty building.