A long time ago in a far away land.. (a week ago in my hometown), Nathan Colquhoun responded to an editorial about churches getting together to help a local Vineyard church run (illegally) its homeless shelter.
In Nathan's response, he uses, effectively (really, read it), satire to get a point across that many of us non-believers try to make (not jokingly) when discussing faith with those who are (sadly) infested with it.
I'm sure that most of Nathan's interests are honourable and much is truly commendable but I think he stops short and that there may be other motivators for his letter.
Churches are "known" for providing assistance to those in need but the reality is that with such overhead, many churches provide little (if any) assistance. Most of their money is spent on salaries for staff (priests/pastors) and for upkeep on their massive/expensive buildings.
Nathan is involved in a (relatively) new church start-up (we needed another church - I actually drove by two street corners the other day without seeing one - I was worried!). Like many churches, it brings in tens of thousands of dollars and, happily, spends it. Of the nearly $200,000 the church was given in the last three years, $1,000 is slotted for "core giving" in 2009. Most of the other money went to salaries, mortgage, building upkeep, capital expenses, etc.
At best, the church used $17,000 for "helping" others (with the exception of, each week, helping people read the same book over and over). That's if you assume the $16,000+ spent on mission trips was really "helping" others. I'm confident that, unlike most missions, Nathan's church did no proselytizing and spent every penny on charitable works. (Note: Use of jest but likely not the truth).
It is for these reasons that I wonder if ALL of Nathan's motivators were honourable. He pushes a different type of religion and his letter to the editor may have just been another way to attract others who are disillusioned by what is clearly not how Jesus would have hoped his religion to be practiced.
Having said all that, Nathan is an intelligent person truly interested in the well-being of others and, given the options for "believers", he is one that I can truly appreciate. I don't think his "moderate" religious attitude is the result of his belief - it is in spite of it. I like that he has taken steps to get his church to being more "Christ-like" - I just wish he'd go one step further and make it completely like Christ - non-existent. (Nathan - you can always claim your church was better than Christ - it actually did exist at one time!)
I've got some cold beverages and a bag of M&Ms for the day when Nathan finally tosses his bronze-aged myths and joins the world of non-belief. And Nathan, I'm counting on it being soon - M&M's do expire.