Are Churches Businesses, or Something Worse?

In a recent article in the Review Appeal, the headline read, “Sunday School Use Curtailed.” This referred to the fact that a church in our area called GracePointe, a good church, a very good church by the way, had been denied the use of classrooms in a school they had been renting for several years. This is as a result of change of policy by the Williamson County School Board.

I’d like to comment on this since I think I am uniquely qualified for two reasons: One, I started a church that met in a public school for over ten years. It was a great experience. And, two, the church I’ve planted now called The Gathering, went through the application process ,just a month or two ago, of meeting in a great high school here in Williamson County called Centennial.

I’m not blogging about this to complain, or argue, or tell you there is a sinister plot against the church or Christians. As a matter of fact, through the application process people were great to us; encouraging, very responsive, and we were approved to use the school. But because of the new restrictions of not being able to have any space to help teach and nurture our children, which seemed really odd because that’s the very thing schools are supposed to do, we were unable to use the space, and we’ve stayed quite happily where we are.

There were a lot of things in the article that are just flat-out wrong
: opinions and ideas that soak into the social conscience that have no relation to the truth, and at the end of the day make us feel like the church is in contention and conflict with everyone else. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m not going to comment about those statements, but I do want to comment on one specific statement that the most outspoken critic of churches using schools noted. He said, and I quote, “Churches that are setting up shop in the county are not just local churches, but businesses. The district is essentially enabling these start-up churches to be in direct competition with other churches.”

This well-meaning gentleman is dead wrong on both of these facts and here is why. Number one, churches are not businesses. Just because a church is new, doesn’t make it a business. And just because a church is old or established, doesn’t make it a church. What’s the reasoning in that? If you’re a new church, you’re a business; if you’re an old church and you have your own building and property, which you once didn’t have when you started, you’re a church.

Bottom line, churches are not businesses. They are profoundly service organizations. Their very existence is to help people, to lift them, to love them, to care about them; most importantly to teach children that they are special creations by a loving, caring, compassionate God. These classrooms that churches are being denied would be used to help children feel a sense of their own self-worth; to make them feel loved, safe, and secure, to motivate them to be great citizens, to pay taxes, to grow up to be hard-working men and women who love their neighbors. So why does this activity seem to be so sinister or so cumbersome that classrooms can’t be used? Watch for part two of this commentary on Friday’s post.