Now and then I hear the argument that faith communities should be using their limited money in their tight budgets directly for helping the needy and not for building and maintaining buildings and hiring staff.
In many ways I sympathize with that argument. I find it an especially compelling one when the buildings are opulent beyond imagining and when staff members are paid extraordinarily high salaries. But those two things are not the norm. Far from it, in fact.
Beyond that, most congregations should consider their buildings and their staff as integral parts of their outreach and mission efforts.
That very point was made this past Sunday in an excellent sermon jointly delivered to my congregation by our pastor, Dr. Paul T. Rock, and by one of our members, Warren K. Erdman.
Without a central location and a staff, faith communities located in churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other houses of worship would find it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain cohesive momentum in their efforts to minister to those in need. It would be like trying to manufacture and sell widgets without a corporate headquarters.
That said, I agree that you can find terrible examples of money poorly spent on buildings and staff. But when faith communities sit down to figure out how much they are donating to mission and outreach work, it's bad accounting not to include at least some of the costs of operating a building and employing a staff.
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ISLAMISTS ON THE DEFENSIVE
The recent violence in Egypt, it turns out, is helping to put what's called political Islam on the defensive in all kinds of places, this report says. Nothing -- especially violence tinged with religious overtones -- is without consequences, often times unintended and unanticipated.
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online. To read it, click here.