Orginally published on Monday, August 25, 2008 at 6:41 AM
by Todd Rhoades
This is interesting: A society of churches in Germany has set up its own gas company to help credit crunch families hit by spiralling energy prices. The non-profit Society for the Supply of Energy to Church and Social Institutions aims to undercut commercial power companies by 10 per cent.
Chairman Johannes Baumgartner said: "If we can supply gas at a lower rate by cutting out the middle man, then we have done a good job. We just want to be cheaper... According to their Chairman, Johannes Bumgartner, "At first we want to concentrate on supplying gas to our parishes and to charitable and social organizations here in Baden-Wuerttemberg. If that works out well, we'll be glad to welcome others from outside who will increase our purchasing capacity."
What do you think? Is this an innovative, great idea? Or is this the kind of things that the church should stay out of? Even if this served as a great foot in the door to sharing the gospel (which I'm not sure is the goal here), should the church be in the gas business?
How and where should churches be involved in non-church activities? Should churches run schools, orphanages, counseling centers, food kitchens, low income housing, malls, coffee shops or gas companies?
What’s your take?
PS—Here’s the link to the story.
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There are 6 Comments:
Interesting… I think it’s okay for churches to enter into business but it must be done with much forethought and prayer. It can be another way of “serving”.
A church in our area recently did an outreach by providing $15,000 worth of gas at two local gas stations. They couldn’t fill up everyone’s car, but they promised to give about a $25 fill-up to those who showed up. They said this was their way of helping out the community although, knowing this church, it seemed to border on hype. But, regardless of motive, God can use it to bring someone in.
Seems like the potential is that the biz becomes a distraction (and everything can be if we dont keep the purpose/target in very clear focus) I would want to know how they determined that gas is supposed to be their business (no Pot luck jokes please)
Not a new idea, but is there a better way to spend $15,000 that has longer and more lasting impact?
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[Not a new idea, but is there a better way to spend $15,000 that has longer and more lasting impact?] I doubt that’s all that church did, and as far as easing your neighbor’s burdens? No, I think there’s not many better uses of money…
This is an area where the church needs to tread lightly. Is it completely wrong? of course not. The very last thing the body of Christ needs is another ‘secular’ item ‘Christian-ified’. From one angle, this is a true fulfillment of the biblical calling to subdue the earth, and to be a steward with our resources.
Another angle would be from the axiom “Power corrupts”, an interesting phrase phrase aimed at a power company (the article hinted that this was for natural gas); the problem with this is that even if it doesn’t become a money-maker, the eventual motivation may become as biblically unsound as indulgences, or as plain sad as the infamous “TestaMints” or the slew of ‘Christian’ t-shirts that unashamedly steal the slogans of pop culture. Emphasis on the “Stealing is Bad” verses.
The final angle more addresses Todd’s final question: ”Should churches run schools, orphanages, counseling centers, food kitchens, low income housing, malls, coffee shops or gas companies?” A Christian would have to say, what is the absolute purpose of owning a mall? Or a Gas company? Is it to spread the word of Christ to the area? The problem with many of these truly good things is the ‘huddle’ effect. The church creates a coffee shop, and the churchgoers attend. If the high percentile of attendees to ANY of the above options are already believers, then there usually isn’t a good reason to have it.* If the church is huddling with its own malls, coffee shops and schools, our interaction with the outside world is damaged. As Followers of Christ, we should be constantly interacting with the world around us. Paul wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting or effective if he preached only to believers. In my opinion, a church-run gas company set up to sell gas to churches (yes, eventually other non-profits) doesn’t seem like it’s reaching out. Unless this is a ministry to non-profit organizations, something may be a bit off.
* Obviously, there are exceptions. I’ve heard of churches building housing neighborhoods for the widows of pastors and the like, and there is not anything wrong with that. For a guideline of this, take (what I call) the 12-7 rule outlined in Acts 6. We need to take care of the physical needs of our members, but not in the sense that it is a detraction of our service to God.
You must know that Germany is very secular and German Churches are very liberal.
The firm is a Compony hold by the Roman Catholic Church and two former Evangelia States Chruches
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