Tuesday, 24 March 2009

When Churches Become Corporations

Or, When Clergy Become Accountants

The diocese of London (England) wants to sell a former church, St Mark’s North Audley Street to an entrepreneur to be used as a spa. The congregation has already, apparently, been ousted from the building. The Archdeacon of Charing Cross insists on the necessity of the move, citing the expense of restoring the building, as well as the fact that the area is served by three other Anglican churches with "thriving congregations."

The key is that, although it is not mentioned, I suspect these three thriving congregations are Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), home of the Alpha Course, and a couple of its plants. In fact, Nicky Gumbel, the driving force behind Alpha, has publicly expressed the desire to save St Mark's and renovate it at HTB's expense. Here is an excerpt from a letter from Mr Gumbel to the aforementioned archdeacon:
We remain ready, willing and able to take on the work St Mark’s needs to survive. Our interest in St Mark’s and our desire to see it become a home to a worshipping community again is public knowledge;

We are overflowing at both HTB and St Paul’s Onslow Square and would like to start satellite services in St Mark’s. Our experience at St Paul’s has shown that these fill up very quickly. The Sunday congregation at St Paul’s has grown from zero to a thousand people in the last eighteen months. We think we could do something similar at St Mark’s and we would be willing to discuss the issue of renting the building. Mr Hammer’s solution is not the only solution. As you know we have a strong track record of restoring churches and maintaining them for Anglican worship. We are offering to do this with St Mark’s North Audley Street.

The emphasis in the quote above is mine, but wouldn't we all love to see church growth like that. Knowing the Alpha course and Nicky's teaching, I'm confident that such growth is a result of the true preaching of the gospel, not just pandering to itching ears.

It is frustrating to see those we may have trusted in the past show themselves to be more interested in buildings and assets than true Christian mission, but I believe that those who desire to remain faithful to Christ and his message need to not let such things distract us from our true task, that of making disciples. I'm sure these distractions delight the enemy no end.

Read the full story here...
h/t Stand Firm

Take Care

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