Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Selling the "House of God"

I've been at a number of "think-tank" meetings where we have discussed the future of church, or mission or denomination or ________ (fill in the blank). At at least three of these meetings I have suggested that we sell ... all the real estate and give the money to missions or to the poor or at least create an endowment fund to pay for inner city street outreach workers.

I came across an interesting appendix in a book ("The Way Church Ought to Be" by Robert Lund) that expands on this idea. He quotes from Christian Smith ("Going to the Root") who estimates that the value of real estate (as of 1991) owned by churches in the US is over 230 billion dollars. We could probably double that figure for 2006 dollars (which if sold today would provide enough money to give every American citizen $200,000.00!). In addition to the actual value of the buildings and land is the money spent on utilities and maintenance to say nothing of the billions spent on debt maintenance. So if we took that money (say 500-600 billion dollars) and invest it at a modest rate, it would provide 30 to 50 BILLION DOLLARS per year EVERY year.

That amount would be enough to provide a full time job to one million people at a very decent wage
It could probably eliminate world food shortages within a couple of years.
Christian Smith suggests about 40 projects that could be funded with the money including relieving homelessness, theological training for 3rd world church leaders, funding orphanages, establishing Christian based environmental lobby to positively affect legislation, child support funding for pregnant teens, etc.

We need to remember that this does not include the ongoing tithes and offerings which would suddenly be freed up to provide ongoing support for inovative community development programs, outreach, and missions.

Well, I can dream can't I?

No comments: