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At $347,000 Per Baptism Maybe It’s Time To Rethink Church?

Inside Work website just published a thought provoking editorial, here's a teaser of the first pew paragraphs but check out their website to read the full article.

The absence of trust today is palpable. We don’t need to hear leaders, pundits and ordinary Joes talking about the breakdown of trust as the reality of the financial meltdown touches our lives—so many stories, of credit denied, of honest families victimized in financial scandals, of hardworking people losing their nest eggs in the stock market, of faithful employees laid off by companies they devoted themselves to for years… We can feel the distrust growing—in our banking system, government, corporations, even religious organizations.

How do we stop this? What treatment can heal these deep wounds? Wide sweeping federal policy? Complete reform of our banking system? State and local initiatives? Independent corporate reform through industry associations? Spiritual reformation?

There is also denial in the air. Last week in a board meeting of a nonprofit I am committed to the executive director stated that their umbrella association told them that even during downturns giving remains consistent. I silently shook my head but didn’t get a chance to remind them this isn’t just any downturn. When some of their wealthiest donors lose 50% of their wealth and 18% of overall American wealth disappears, it will affect their giving.

While contemplating on these larger scale issues, I narrowed my thinking to Christendom because I wanted to revisit a number that kept bothering me after reading Al Lunsford’s piece, Business is Our Mission. Al referred to research that indicated a global cost of $347,000 per baptism. What?? I had to do a double take. Of course you cannot put a price on a soul, and no one knows what the Spirit of God is doing or how long that work will take in a person’s life (or how long it has gone on already), but that’s not what this is about. When Nike states their customer acquisition costs are $100 per person against a lifetime customer value of x, are they placing a value on human life? Of course not. They are using financial tools to pursue efficiency and improve their understanding and intelligently utilize resources. And that, we have to assume, is what that $347,000 per baptism number is all about as well.

Read the rest of the article at the Inside Work Website

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posted by Justin Forman | 3.17.2009 - 7:45 PM

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