09 July 2012

Is it time for church sponsorship?

by Dr Mark Keown

So the All Blacks are in discussions with potential sponsors who will place their logo on the centre of the jersey front. The English have the big Oa on theirs, the Springboks have SaSoL, the Wallabies have Qantas. But the ABs have been able to stay free of this dominant logo. Traditionalists are up at arms, crying foul. They want to keep the jersey pure. “No longer All Black” is the cry. Forget of course that Adidas already have their logo on it. Others concede that nothing can stop this, as it will yield the cash strapped NZRFU a way out of their financial predicament in these hard times. Should they sell their souls?

This got me thinking about church sponsorship. Should we fill those big spaces on the walls and notice boards of churches with corporate logos? How long will it be before churches go into partnerships with big companies for sponsorship? The church notice board could have a big golden M, or have the coke or other logo all over it. The side of the church, somewhere near the cross or communion table, could have a big “Sponsored by…” sign on it.

This would solve all our problems of paying the pastors the enormous salaries they need to show that God blesses the special and obedient. It could help pay for the cracking ceiling, the new sound system, the youth ministry, the church camp, and more. We could at last feed the poor. We could make the church eco-friendly. No longer would the people of God have to dig into their purses to fund the church, it would be secure.

After all, many churches are already kind of doing this by taking money from the breweries and gambling. Why not put it out there, “This Church is Sponsored by …”?

This could solve the problems of traditional churches facing declining numbers and buildings – they could rebuild them! People would flow with the glossy product, hot music, good looking and well dressed people, and the glorious oratory. After all, we could actually hire professional speakers and speech writers to improve the sermons. Whole denominations could go into partnerships with big corporations who would get great bang for their buck. Such things are so tempting in an age where money talks, where a good looking church set up requires on-going funding that is beyond many congregations and denominations.

Actually, I expect this is already happening and someone will respond to this blog telling me that their church or other has a sign to this effect on the door – I pray not.

The whole thing of course is corrupt and flawed. Tempting though it is, and arguably justifiable (then again maybe not), it is a return to the patronage system Jesus came to set the world free of. A system where one gives, in part, to get something back – especially their “name” enhanced. The recipient too must submit to the desires of the patron – it is quid pro quo giving. Christian giving is no strings attached. It demands nothing of the recipient. It is “on the quiet,” the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Corporates are free to give, but not as sponsors – their giving should be anonymous and from the heart like it all.

The only logos (note the play on words there) on the walls of churches should be dedicated to the great giver, God, Father, Son and Spirit. Unequal yoking is to be avoided, especially where the god of mammon is concerned. Whether the All Blacks yield, and I am sure they will in this day and age, and why not in this system, churches must not!

Disclaimer and Policy