I watched with interest yesterday (Thursday, March 16, 2017) the press conference where White House budget director, Mike Mulvaney, tried to explain the basics behind the President’s “spending blueprint.” (Here is the full press conference. Mulvaney’s part is in the first 36 minutes.) Mr. Mulvaney seems like a nice guy. Budgeting is difficult work. Cuts have to be made somewhere. So, I don’t want to be overly critical. What I want to do is share a story.
I believe that after the New Deal was reached in the 1930s, by the 1940s and 50s the evangelical church in the U.S. had given over most of their social programs to the government. Interestingly enough, the modern day church growth movement that gave rise to mega churches, began in the 1940s. It’s like we turned our attention from helping people to building buildings. But that’s another post.
Now, the government is attempting to make deep cuts in social welfare programs. They church must now step it up and become the leader in social programs in our country. But will we? That is the question.
Two areas that may get cut deeply are HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and CDBG (Community Development Block Grants). Both have been instrumental in our church being able to build a group home for men with disabilities in our communities. Yes, you read that right. The government is helping our church fulfill our mission? Well, in part, because the churches in my area either could not or would not.
You see, a couple of summers ago I needed to raise $100,000 to get the home started. I talked to a lot of the churches in my area (both big and small) about helping. All agreed there was a need to do this and that my church was the perfect church to lead the charge. With their blessings, I was confident we could raise $100,000 without any problem. After all, my church, and the churches I was talking with, live in the 7th wealthiest county in the United States and we have more mega churches per capita then anywhere in the world.
So, we scheduled a benefit concert.
Remember, I needed $100,000.
I received $25,000.
Please understand, I am not being critical.
After the fund raiser, we applied for a grant from THDA (part of HUD), and also for a CDBG. All total, through those two government grants, we received around $300,000. And now, the President wants to serious cut HUD monies and completely get rid of CDBGs.
It is time for the church to be the church. But in order to do so, we are going to have to seriously rearrange our priorities.
NOTE: I need to add that the total cost of the purchase and rehab of home was $500,000. The reason I needed $100,000 was because a bank said if I raised $100,000 they would give us a zero interest mortgage for the remaining $400,000. Since, through the grants, we received $300,000, that meant we only had to borrow $200,000 at a 0% interests over 30 years.