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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

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!

8 Comments:

At 6:40 AM , Anonymous kent said...

I like it. It gives an otherwise sometimes ministerially questionable event a missional purpose. It is no secret that weddings are not my favorite task (Pastor can you pray now we want to open the bar?), but this gives what is probably better off in a city hall a true kingdom meaning.

It is also curious that those who at times look down on our mortgages and maintenance cost want the "sweetheart deal" when they need it. I do not miond being generous. I just don't like being played. Not cynical, just experienced.

 
At 4:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan here, I'd love to have you read Jeremy Rifkin's "Age of Access" and comment on what seems to be parallel's between his thesis and the "emergent" phenomenon of expereince and leased facilities.

 
At 8:20 PM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Thanks Dan!

 
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At 4:52 AM , Blogger Rick said...

Brilliant Don. I love it. And with a well-written explanation, esp. when the ministry designated to receive funds is a world relief type that anyone can affirm, with or without deep faith, I think couples and their families would feel happy about it.

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At 12:54 PM , Anonymous Kalon Kelley said...

A lovely idea, but I'm not sure the numbers pencil in. (Weddings five days a week might do the trick.)

But the principle of sharing our lovely church building with other ministries is a pretty good one, whether or not we get paid to do it. We are all part of the one church aren't we?

 
At 3:40 AM , Anonymous sapphire said...

My wife is looking to upgrade her diamond ring on our 15th anniversarysapphireI'm surprised that time has gone so fast. I'm interested in any help on finding a good ring without losing all value, besides sentimental value, in first ring.sapphire

 
At 3:25 PM , Blogger Kate said...

I seem to be commenting on all your wedding posts, Don! Well, in my perspective - $2-3,000 is an awful lot of money to spend on a ceremony site for the average wedding couple. Chris and I considered getting married in other places but really wanted to get married at Montecito Covenant and were so glad that the cost was so low. While I think putting the money toward the mortage and missions is valuable, I would hate for someone to not be able to be married in a church because they can't afford it! However, I do think that people need to devote more time and perhaps more funds toward the ceremony - the reception does seem to trump all these days!

 

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