One of the last things I want to say is this. Having started a church in a school for 10 years in Metro, I can tell you that this school was much better off when we left than when we got there. As a church we invested in the people and the teachers in the classrooms. We refinished the gym floor. We installed a new sound and light system in the auditorium. We cleaned up and had workdays all around the school all of those years. We adopted the school. We used the building one day a week and yet the other six days we felt a connection to the school; to help and support financially, and with our presence.
I don’t know a school in Williamson or Davidson counties that couldn’t use that kind of support from the churches who meet in them. If it’s a financial issue, that you’re afraid the separation of church and state is going to somehow be the downfall of our society as we know it, let’s approach this thing from a financial issue perspective.
There’s not a school district I know of that isn’t strapped for money. We take all the schools in Williamson County, open up and rent them out for churches and charge them enough that you can have a profit. And let the profit go to that particular school to provide programs and resources that the budget simply won’t allow.
The idea that separation of church and state means that churches are somehow alien and foreign and not welcome in the public square is simply not right. No church should have an advantage over any other service organization just because it’s a church. I agree with that. We need to pull our own weight. We need to offer services that matter and are meaningful to people’s lives. And what I’ve found is this; any church that loves God, loves Christ, loves the Bible, and loves people, will preach and communicate a message of hope, will take people as they are, and will serve and show compassion is a church that will not only survive, but will thrive. And why shouldn’t we welcome them; just because the church is a non-profit organization and doesn’t pay taxes like a business?
Churches don’t pay taxes not because they want the government to subsidize them. They don’t pay taxes for the very reason that people cry out about the separation of church and state. The power the state has over any organization is to tax it out of existence. So therefore that barrier was set up by founding fathers. It’s a good one. Just because you believe in the separation of church and state, it doesn’t mean the separation of life and faith.
I know this is my rant and probably won’t change anything. But I invite my fellow pastors in my area to stand up, but not by being mean, or accusing people of false motives. People can be sincere and be wrong. I have been more times than I want to admit. But in this case we need an open dialogue. This policy needs to change. And Williamson County once again needs to welcome churches into their buildings, charge them a fair price, and let them become partners in helping support their mission too. There is nothing harmed by that and everything to gain.
As dark and sad and painful as life is, I can’t imagine what it would be like if our churches closed her doors. So let me say this, a shout out, to all my fellow pastors, Christians, and church-goers. Be proud. Be proud that you love your church and that you attend it. Be proud that you give your time, your money, your resources, and your influence to help her mission go forward. We’re not a bunch of weirdos. We’re people who have found real life in Jesus Christ and want to live by the teachings of Jesus. When we fail we give our detractors too much ammunition. And while we’re not perfect, our mission is important. Thank you for all who give your best to it.