The recent government shutdown got me to thinking; what if other entities in our society shut down? What if there was a “Church shutdown?” This, obviously is a far-fetched idea that would never happen given Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16:18 that: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” But what if we indulged the impossible for a moment and considered what would happen if, like the government, the Church were to “shut down?”
Society would feel the effects of a Church shutdown far more profoundly than any government shutdown. The Church fulfills a function in culture and society that cannot be replicated by other entities. Our Founders recognized this. John Adams stated, “It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. Religion and virtue are the only foundations . . . of republicanism and of all free governments.” The churches of America are where religion is propagated. If the Church were to “shut down,” the “principles upon which freedom can securely stand” would be gone.
Additionally, as I noted in a previous post, churches provide an intangible benefit to society in that they are in the business of making good citizens. The propagation and acceptance of the Gospel message results in things like reduced crime rates from transformed lives, suicides prevented when people surrender to Christ, and people with destructive behavioral patterns that harm the community changing into hard-working and virtuous citizens who contribute to the well-being of the community. A “Church shutdown” would affect our society and culture in numerous intangible ways.
Finally, there is no ignoring the great outreach efforts to the “least of these” performed by the Church in America. An interesting study conducted a few years ago attempted to put a value on the economic worth of one church. The study estimated that the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia provided over six million dollars of economic value to the community, a figure that is nearly ten times the church’s annual budget. In reality, there is no way to quantify the soup kitchens, clothes closets, homeless shelters, counseling, financial benevolence, and all the other outreach work churches do. A “Church shutdown” would remove these valuable services from society.
It is important for us, at times, to remember the great benefits of the Church to American society and culture. In a day when churches are frequently viewed as just another business, or as a nuisance to society, or as a pot of money to be taxed by the government, taking a step back to recognize and appreciate the role of the Church is helpful. As the government “shutdown” affects our country in numerous ways, a “Church shutdown” would affect our country in even more dramatic ways.
Alliance Defending Freedom recognizes this fact and is working hard to protect the right of the Church to minister freely in proclaiming the Gospel and in serving the community. We recognize that, as the liberty of the Church to “be the Church” in America is restricted, society suffers and declines correspondingly. But as the Church remains free to fulfill its mission and role, society benefits in untold ways. If your church faces legal restrictions that hinder its ability to minister freely, please contact us so one of our attorneys can review your situation.