Should the church own a multi-million dollar sports complex? What about large-scale businesses?
An analysis by The New York Times of the online public records of just over 1,300 of these giant churches shows that their business interests are as varied as basketball schools, aviation subsidiaries, investment partnerships and a limousine service.
Are these really effective evangelism tools or just a way for a group to demonstrate their power? These mega-ministries are a mixed bag as demonstrated in the New York Times article: Megachurches Add Local Economy to Their Mission.
The article brings up issues such as tax-exempt status, making it hard for for-profit businesses to compete, is some facet tax-exempt while others aren’t?
This next quote demonstrates part of what I feel whenever I walk into a mega-church:
And when these ventures succeed — when local amenities like shops, sports centers, theaters and clinics are all provided in church-run settings and employ mostly church members — people of other faiths may feel shut out of a significant part of a town’s life, some religion scholars said.
Beyond all the tax issues, what really is the role of the church in a community? Does it really benefit the community by providing similar services as other businesses? What about the poor? Wouldn’t it be better for the church and its members to engage the community at their level? Instead of going to the church’s gym should you be at the local YMCA working out next to your neighbor? I would be reluctant to visit a church’s gym – who wants religion shoved down their throat, or even the thought of that.
If a church’s role is to create disciples and to care for the orphan and widow are these mega churches succeeding?
Please share your thoughts.