An Emergent Idea: weddings for missions
I am waking up. The emergent church is really stretching me in some good ways. i have been reading authors like Reggie McNeal, Dan Kimball, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and all sorts of web sites. I'm also privileged to be living in emergent central in southern California, where I regularly rub shoulders with cutting edge church leaders.
One trend I notice is the trend to be freed-up from building addiction. These emergent churches do long-term (and short-term)leases with schools, offices, warehouses, etc. That way, they tell me, they are keeping mission and ministry central and building maintenance and property fights minimal. Sounds good to me! They have sufficient funds for staffing their churches much larger than the one I pastor, sending leaders on mission trips and supporting tremendous ministry/mission projects all over the world. It makes me envious!
Then I got it! What the emergent churches save in mortgage costs, they redirect into front line ministry. That's good stewardship. But, when their daughters (primarily) and sons want to get married, guess where they go? They often find churches like the one I serve, with a lovely sanctuary and stained glass windows and pews and.... a building. Yet, they ususally want us to cut them a deal for the use of the space, since we are ministry partners. I have watched weddings come and go for 6 months by wonderful Christian couples from other churches with their pastors, without so much as being asked for a prayer. They really do not need any pastoral support, all they need is a building. They will do their own weddings, bring their own musicians, caterers, everything.
All the while our church is trying to pay the mortgage, and staffing costs and missions. So, here's what I thinking. The whole wedding use process should be married to the Missions Committee. Each wedding fee should be tied to that month's mortgage payment. Since weddings today run easily in the 10's of thousands of dollars, what's 2 or 3 of 4 thousand more? When a an outside wedding is booked, the mortgage gets paid by the wedding couple and those mortgage dollars are immediately redirected into missions! I think that would be fabulous. Wedding fees funding missions! That way a building laden church like the ones I have served, could find a way to become more mission's responsible through the market-place of outside weddings!