Watering church lawns and other absurd reductionisms


Andrew Jones (aka Tall Skinny Kiwi), posted a qoute from a blog, that got a flea/bug in my ear.

Andrew's blog post title, 'Why I don't go to church' with a qoute from another blog on how churches spend more money on watering lawns than the needs of the poor in the world, with no comment by him was a little vexing, but that might have been his plan all along :-) And he succeeded with me.

The full article (which is very good), makes clearer that when asked, the author says he doesn't go to church, he understands that he is the church. And the qoute on watering lawns is ameliorated in it's larger context.

Whilst the placing of the qoute with that title, made it look like an absurd reductionism, I do increasingly find myself irked by such reductionisms.

1. True: Is this quote true, where are the stats that prove, 'most parts of the church in the West spend as much money watering the grass at the building... than the entire annual economic needs of other parts of the church in the poorer places on the planet'? It's so easy to throw out claims like this about the church collectively compared to a situation in the world, but how about some evidence to support it?

2. So What?:Take enough people collectively, from any grouping and you can make similar assertions. Emerging Church christians spend more on apple laptops/ipods, or books on missional/emerging church, than than the entire annual economic needs of other parts of the church in the poorer places on the planet.

And people who don't go to church spend more money on crisps (potato chips), than the entire annual economic needs of other parts of the church in the poorer places on the planet.

I'm not arguing for the watering of lawns of church buildings, and I am not justifying how churches do get consumed with their own maintentance, and don't resource mission, which should be their primary identity. I do want to question the 'straw man' of reductionisms like this, that avoid the log in our own eyes, by making 'church' the resource boogeyman.

And there are plenty of churches with lawns to water that do a great deal in their community.

3. The False Consolation of Reductionisms: I read a blog a few years ago about a Christian who had decided to 'leave church' because of all the poor people that members of his church drove by on the way to their resource intensive building. The author's ire was provoked by a church that ignored the community around it's building. It was an vitriolic tirade of how they (the author) had seen the waste of resources, by a church consumed with itself, that missed the needs of the community around it.

And yet I thought, what about you, who drove to the church yourself. Did you ever stop and minister to those people? Did you not only minister to them, but invite others in that church community to join you? Did you then influence your church, so that it threw it's doors and resources open to those around it?

No, you felt that you had done something by 'leaving church', a church that in your assessment that didn't do something, you weren't prepared to do either it seems.