Church foreclosures reach record levels

posted at 3:25 pm on March 10, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

This is one of those titles which should have immediately lent itself to a discussion of a war on religion or some other social conservative prospect. But the reality turns out to be considerably more mundane. A recent study indicates that churches are being foreclosed upon in record numbers, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the faith or denomination of the property owners in question. They just can’t make the loan payments.

Since 2010, 270 churches have been sold after defaulting on their loans, with 90 percent of those sales coming after a lender-triggered foreclosure, according to the real estate information company CoStar Group.

In 2011, 138 churches were sold by banks, an annual record, with no sign that these religious foreclosures are abating, according to CoStar. That compares to just 24 sales in 2008 and only a handful in the decade before.

The church foreclosures have hit all denominations across America, black and white, but with small to medium size houses of worship the worst. Most of these institutions have ended up being purchased by other churches.

The highest percentage have occurred in some of the states hardest hit by the home foreclosure crisis: California, Georgia, Florida and Michigan.

Many of the stories being told here don’t sound much different from the problems that homeowners have faced. This is particularly true of the Solid Rock Christian Church near Memphis, Tennessee. They took out a nearly $3M loan in early 2008 to construct a new, larger church as their congregation was expanding. Unfortunately, we all know what happened later that year. Another was the Charles Street African American Episcopal Church in Boston, who took out a long term loan. They made all the payments, but to get a low rate they structured the arrangement with the bank to include a million dollar balloon payment at the end, which came due last year. They are unable to make the large payment and are in pretty much the same situation.

While this doesn’t represent some sort of specific attack on churches by the banks, it does reflect the economy of the country at large. During periods of strong growth and plentiful jobs, if a church got into trouble, their economically sound congregants could pitch in to save the day. But when more and more of the faithful are out of work, they simply may not have the extra cash to donate and pay off the bank.

Everyone is feeling the pinch, and the banks can’t make many distinctions just because the borrower is a church. But I imagine selling off a church is more difficult than residential or standard commercial property. Tough situation all around.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Did Jazz Shaw turn into Barack Obama, what with the ‘halelujah’?!?

The Nerve on March 10, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Atheists rejoice.

SouthernGent on March 10, 2012 at 3:30 PM

What The Nerve just wrote ^^ because I was wondering why the “Hallelujah” declaration, too, regarding this news.

Very peculiar rejoicing about the misfortune of others.

Lourdes on March 10, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Now if we could only get the others on the tax roles things would be a little better for the municipalities.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Did Jazz Shaw turn into Barack Obama, what with the ‘halelujah’?!?

The Nerve on March 10, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Perhaps because the rule of law and contracts is being upheld, instead of some feelgood bailout BS?

Nathan_OH on March 10, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Still an infintesimally small percentage of the total churches in the country.

Ted Torgerson on March 10, 2012 at 3:31 PM

BUT, Christians don’t have to own property to worship. They can meet anywhere and everywhere they can arrange the space.

Lourdes on March 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

A church ought to know better than anyone/any organization that it’s not wise to owe money.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

BUT, Christians don’t have to own property to worship. They can meet anywhere and everywhere they can arrange the space.

Lourdes on March 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

What I meant to express there was not a rationalization about the loss of church structures due to unpaid mortgages, but that, despite such loss, Christians don’t have to forgo worship services, they can adjust despite the disadvantage and meet to worship wherever they can arrange enough space for their group/s. Just saying, don’t despair.

Lourdes on March 10, 2012 at 3:34 PM

This doesn’t surprise me at all. A lot of churches overextended themselves during the boom times of the 90s thinking the gravy train would never end. When times got bad, crowds got thin and baskets got lite those half empty white albatrosses around their necks got to be a heavy burden. Apparently too heavy in many cases.

tommyboy on March 10, 2012 at 3:40 PM

A church ought to know better than anyone/any organization that it’s not wise to owe money.
whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Actually, a residual amount of manageable debt serviced by regular payments raises your credit rating considerably. The key is responsibility whether its government, business, or personal debt. It’s RISK that causes problems.

Economic collapse like in 2008 was a high risk at the time. Not the best moment to go taking on a big new loan for a big new project.

Boomer_Sooner on March 10, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Aeveral churches have closed their doors in my urban area. From the news I’ve seen and read they were all pretty much because of lack of donations. The lack of donations was because of people moving away, neighborhood decline, and the unemployment. Don’t recall that any had taken out loans. They were simply unable to pay for upkeep, salaries, etc.

Deanna on March 10, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Crisis! Need to call my sister and ask how many furs she had to sell since the Concorde’s long gone and her Pastor can’t get to Paris for din-din quite so quickly.
:P

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 10, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Atheists rejoice.

SouthernGent on March 10, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Atheists don’t rejoice. That’s part of their problem.

Tommy_G on March 10, 2012 at 3:43 PM

A church ought to know better than anyone/any organization that it’s not wise to owe money.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

^^^
Yeah, pretty much. The pastor as CEO model begging for tithe money to keep a megachurch building in the red isn’t helping either.
You don’t need a building that costs millions and a hipster coffee bar to be a church. I feel badly for them but this is a case of not being wise with their money.

BakerAllie on March 10, 2012 at 3:43 PM

They’re also competing with the TV preachers, who have flashier music and more exciting/excitable preaching.

RBMN on March 10, 2012 at 3:45 PM

A church ought to know better than anyone/any organization that it’s not wise to owe money.
whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Actually, a residual amount of manageable debt serviced by regular payments raises your credit rating considerably. The key is responsibility whether its government, business, or personal debt. It’s RISK that causes problems.
Economic collapse like in 2008 was a high risk at the time. Not the best moment to go taking on a big new loan for a big new project.
Boomer_Sooner on March 10, 2012 at 3:40 PM

I’m not speaking to the economics but rather the belief “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another” (Romans 13:8). The scriptures are filled with warnings about debt.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:46 PM

I wonder if Mosques have taken a hit? Likely many were bought with cash I imagine.

CW on March 10, 2012 at 3:46 PM

I wonder if Mosques have taken a hit? Likely many were bought with cash I imagine.

CW on March 10, 2012 at 3:46 PM

In that case, it’s too bad Christian churches aren’t so financially responsible.

Armin Tamzarian on March 10, 2012 at 3:48 PM

CW on March 10, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Big Oil!!!!

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 3:48 PM

They’re also competing with the TV preachers, who have flashier music and more exciting/excitable preaching.

RBMN on March 10, 2012 at 3:45 PM

After all it’s all about bring in the coin and there’ more than one born every minute.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 3:49 PM

A church ought to know better than anyone/any organization that it’s not wise to owe money.
whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

^^^
Yeah, pretty much. The pastor as CEO model begging for tithe money to keep a megachurch building in the red isn’t helping either.
You don’t need a building that costs millions and a hipster coffee bar to be a church. I feel badly for them but this is a case of not being wise with their money.
BakerAllie on March 10, 2012 at 3:43 PM

I recall one church that met in a public park – probably be all arrested these days – until they could afford to rent a place to meet. One of my early churches used a rented storefront. You make the most with what you got.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:50 PM

They’re also competing with the TV preachers, who have flashier music and more exciting/excitable preaching.

RBMN on March 10, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Maybe, but for many belonging to a church goes beyond just the preacher. It’s also a community of friends, family and neighbors. You can’t get that from TV.

visions on March 10, 2012 at 3:51 PM

In that case, it’s too bad Christian churches aren’t so financially responsible.
Armin Tamzarian on March 10, 2012 at 3:48 PM

They don’t entire countries backing them with oil dollars.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:51 PM

I recall one church that met in a public park – probably be all arrested these days – until they could afford to rent a place to meet. One of my early churches used a rented storefront. You make the most with what you got.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Apart from satisfying the narcissism of the pastor or pastors who are desperate to have a “flock” they can “lead”, what the hell is the point of that? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the “parishioners” of such a “church” to just find a legitimate and established one instead? Spiritually speaking, are you really going to have a vastly different experience there than you would at a real church?

Armin Tamzarian on March 10, 2012 at 3:54 PM

After all it’s all about bring in the coin and there’ more than one born every minute.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Only atheists and leftists cheer the misfortune of others.

darwin on March 10, 2012 at 3:55 PM

They’re also competing with the TV preachers, who have flashier music and more exciting/excitable preaching.

RBMN on March 10, 2012 at 3:45 PM

And then there’s The Episcopal Church which decided about ten years ago that if they started ordaining actively gay bishops, libs would start flooding their churches.

Instead they’re merging dioceses, closing churches & cathedrals and dealing with a third fewer members and even less money. Of course if they stopped suing departing congregations they’d have more money to maintain the vacant parish properties they win in court. Apparently selling them off to Muslims isn’t helping the budget enough.

Eren on March 10, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Hey now, let’s not go smearing atheists because a few churches can’t pay their bills. It must be their unheavenly tax burden that’s killing ‘em (oh, wait…). That said, this atheist doesn’t like to hear about anyone losing their church home because the church fathers had eyes bigger than their respective wallets.

I would point the curious to Cowboy Church in southern Oklahoma. It congregates on donated land and started out as a giant tent – I haven’t seen it in awhile, but the church was modest in origin (literally a giant tent) and, judging by its crowds, a testament to the notion that brick and mortar doesn’t make a church. The pastor of the church notes that it’s climate controlled – cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

King B on March 10, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Hallelujah!

Really? Hallelujah complete with an exclamation point for added emphasis? Was that really necessary???

The reality is that there is a faith side to churches and the business side. This is part of the latter. Living in post-Katrina New Orleans the church I belonged to and every other church experienced about a 50% loss in membership. Don’t think that didn’t play havoc with the church finances! (note the proper use of the exclamation point).

What wasn’t mentioned above, but I suspect is true, is that the property involved more than likely belonged to the independent (or loosely affiliated) congregationalist type of church and not a mainstream denomination. My particular denomination has so many rules in place about funding it would be hard to get a loan approved by the church organization without a clear way forward including contingincies. Again this is the business side of the church where it’s great to put faith in God but that doesn’t mean you take out a $3M loan (not a huge amount when talking about building a new church) and believe that faith alone will pay the bills.

What also wasn’t mentioned, but I suspect is true, is that the congregations involved are apt to be poorer and with more minority members than mainstream congregations. It is only a matter of time before foreclosing on churches is racist or something.

Happy Nomad on March 10, 2012 at 4:02 PM

I recall one church that met in a public park – probably be all arrested these days – until they could afford to rent a place to meet. One of my early churches used a rented storefront. You make the most with what you got.
whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Apart from satisfying the narcissism of the pastor or pastors who are desperate to have a “flock” they can “lead”, what the hell is the point of that?

That’s how new churches start, same as it is with businesses. Col. Sanders didn’t start out with a nationwide chain of restaurants, he just had $105 and a recipe for chicken that was different from the others. It’s the same way with political parties, they don’t spring fully formed a la Athena from Zeus’ forehead.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the “parishioners” of such a “church” to just find a legitimate and established one instead? Spiritually speaking, are you really going to have a vastly different experience there than you would at a real church?
Armin Tamzarian on March 10, 2012 at 3:54 PM

LOL – I can tell you have little or no church experience.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:03 PM

I wonder how many people can’t meet their tithes due to unemployment?

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

The church foreclosures have hit all denominations across America, black and white, but with small to medium size houses of worship the worst. Most of these institutions have ended up being purchased by other churches.
The highest percentage have occurred in some of the states hardest hit by the home foreclosure crisis: California, Georgia, Florida and Michigan.

I have a friend who does appriasals for churches for potential lenders. I asked him if her tried to get a contract to do that with a Mormon church…in SOCAL, there are a lot of them. He told me the Mormon Church doesnt borrow when it build a church…pays cash.

Jailbreak on March 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Only atheists and leftists cheer the misfortune of others.

darwin on March 10, 2012 at 3:55 PM

We’re not talking misfortune here but rather incompetence. Besides wouldn’t a church closing be a divine sign the heresy was there being preached? The TV ministries are con games and the worst part is that through tax exemptions all the tax payers are forced to indirectly bankroll fools like Pat Robertson. I always find it amazing that god is always in need financial aid even if it has to be extorted from the unbelievers. The islamic allah is more clever about this since it gets the same tax exemptions and, in addition, everyone’s financial assistance at the gas pump.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

wonder how many people can’t meet their tithes due to unemployment?

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Um, cindy? Um, if you are unemployed, and have no money coming in, how can you pay tithing? 10% of zero is zero.

Lemme guess…Santorum supporter?

Jailbreak on March 10, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Obama: It’s working. GD America.

faraway on March 10, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Spiritually speaking, are you really going to have a vastly different experience there than you would at a real church?
Armin Tamzarian on March 10, 2012 at 3:54 PM

I assume that this is the same as saying that all colleges are the same, or all groups of friends are the same.
Couldn’t I ask you why you socialize with your specific friends? Do you really have a vastly different social experience with one group of friends than with another, random group of people?
blink on March 10, 2012 at 4:00 PM

It is an absurd question. Why not drink lye instead of milk? Even setting that aside he made a fundamental error; Christian believe that they are the church. i.e. it’s not the building, but the people.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Hallelujah! — ????

Jazz Shaw, that is your reaction to this? You choose to mock this situation? Maybe cheer lead this situation?

That’s not much respect for your readers.

Axion on March 10, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Besides wouldn’t a church closing be a divine sign the heresy was there being preached?
Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Ask the Christians in Syria or Egypt whose churches have been “put out of business”.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Least hardest hit!…Barrack Hussein Obama!

KOOLAID2 on March 10, 2012 at 4:14 PM

‘halelujah’ was in very bad taste. It make it sound that Hotair is anti-Christan and happy to see Church being closed down.

A lot of footnotes on Hotair are pretty stupid. They be better off without it.

jdun on March 10, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Mitt: Don’t set your hair on fire over these Christians

faraway on March 10, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Everyone is feeling the pinch, and the banks can’t make many distinctions just because the borrower is a church. But I imagine selling off a church is more difficult than residential or standard commercial property.

I do commercial foreclosure work for banks in my area and have foreclosed 2-3 churches. They were pretty ridiculous IMO. They made unrealistic settlement demands and then, as soon as the bank filed on them, took to the press and had other pastors call the judge to complain. We’d just put our heads down and push forward. Once they realized we actually expected them to honor its contractual commitments, they’d go out and find a way to bail themselves out–almost always at the last minute before the sheriff’s sale.

Outlander on March 10, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Rev. Dollar needs (you know what). Lear jet & 2 helicopters can’t refuel themselves, y’know!
;)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 10, 2012 at 4:14 PM

The Solid Rock Baptist Church is not some poor black church in the hood of Memphis. To the contrary it is in the affluent upper middle class suburb of Bartlett. The congregation is quite large, and pay their church dues religiously (pun intended). So what happened here? Basically they bit off more than they could chew when they took out a substantial loan that the church could not anywhere come near paying off base don the weekly intake. It’s a perfect case of trying to live beyond their means.

Churches need to maintain the same fiscal responsibility that I am expected to do, and when they do not, they have nobody to blame but their officers who took out the loan.

simkeith on March 10, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Um, cindy? Um, if you are unemployed, and have no money coming in, how can you pay tithing? 10% of zero is zero.

Lemme guess…Santorum supporter?

Jailbreak on March 10, 2012 at 4:07 PM

……….way wrong!

KOOLAID2 on March 10, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

I don’t care what the cause is, it’s your unbridled joy at chuches closing. That’s what I’m talking about. You don’t know the churches, you don’t know the people in them, you don’t know what they do and you couldn’t care less. You’re just tickled pink because they’re churches.

darwin on March 10, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Atheists don’t rejoice. That’s part of their problem.

Tommy_G on March 10, 2012 at 3:43 PM

But these stories DO make them almost as gleeful as when they get to include a crucified Santa among the displays on the county courthouse lawn in December.

The reality is that the churches involved are not the ones that atheists have particular spite against. They are likely to be small independent or loosely affiliated congregations. Atheists want to loot the mainstream denominations. And by loot I mean both literally and figuratively.

Happy Nomad on March 10, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Uh… that ‘tag-line’ on the main page for this Jazzy post rather stings for some people I would say.

“Hallelujah!” — Banks are foreclosing on churches in record numbers because they’re too poor to pay their mortgage?

*yeesh*

FlatFoot on March 10, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Between Jazz Shaw and AP it’s a wonder how this site has any Christian readers.

The Notorious G.O.P on March 10, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Jailbreak on March 10, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Just pointing out a possible reason for churches finding themselves in this unusual position but good job maintaining your place as number one needless insulter.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Let us pray for these atheists and general liberal ne’er-do-wells.

faraway on March 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Besides wouldn’t a church closing be a divine sign the heresy was there being preached?
Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Ask the Christians in Syria or Egypt whose churches have been “put out of business”.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:10 PM

But that is being done by godly people acting on their, perhaps erroneous, interpretation of what their scriptures say. Fortunately, that allah character does not yet have much influence here where the question is one of money, taxes, mismanagement and why would not the Christian god directly help out these beleagered churches. I think we all know why.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Lemme guess…a-hole?

blink on March 10, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Good guess!

Shay on March 10, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 4:17 PM

I believe that MadisonConservative has an iron-clad deathgrip on the title of “number one needless insulter.”

IMHO.

FlatFoot on March 10, 2012 at 4:22 PM

the question is one of money, taxes, mismanagement and why would not the Christian god directly help out these beleagered churches. I think we all know why.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Yes, and we’re working hard to oust Obama.

faraway on March 10, 2012 at 4:22 PM

The Solid Rock Baptist Church is not some poor black church in the hood of Memphis. To the contrary it is in the affluent upper middle class suburb of Bartlett. The congregation is quite large, and pay their church dues religiously (pun intended). So what happened here? Basically they bit off more than they could chew when they took out a substantial loan that the church could not anywhere come near paying off base don the weekly intake. It’s a perfect case of trying to live beyond their means.

Churches need to maintain the same fiscal responsibility that I am expected to do, and when they do not, they have nobody to blame but their officers who took out the loan.

simkeith on March 10, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Yup, whether it’s your business, your church or your family finances, the same principle applies.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:23 PM

It’s a 501(c)3 thing. By your stupid definition, there are plenty of disgusting liberal causes that the tax payers are forced to bankroll.

blink on March 10, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Closing those loopholes would also be joyous. In all these cases let those interested fin ace their interest groups without the coercion or cooperation of the state.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:25 PM

good! now make them pay taxes too

DBear on March 10, 2012 at 4:26 PM

Apart from satisfying the narcissism of the pastor or pastors who are desperate to have a “flock” they can “lead”, what the hell is the point of that? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the “parishioners” of such a “church” to just find a legitimate and established one instead? Spiritually speaking, are you really going to have a vastly different experience there than you would at a real church?

Armin Tamzarian on March 10, 2012 at 3:54 PM

There’s not much more that I need to know about you or your mindset that is not immediately evident from your arrogant opening statement, which implies that you apparently know what goes on in the minds of other people, and your use of quotation marks around words that have absolutely no need for quotation marks.

Also, I’m certainly not one to go around quoting the Bible because my knowledge of it is limited, but I do know this much: Matthew 18:20 says this: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Therefore, neither a large number of people nor the lack of building in which to worship have any bearing on the “legitimacy” of the worship.

You might want to take a good look in the mirror before you accuse anyone else of narcissism.

Dopenstrange on March 10, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Besides wouldn’t a church closing be a divine sign the heresy was there being preached?
Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Ask the Christians in Syria or Egypt whose churches have been “put out of business”.
whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:10 PM

But that is being done by godly people acting on their, perhaps erroneous, interpretation of what their scriptures say. Fortunately, that allah character does not yet have much influence here where the question is one of money, taxes, mismanagement and why would not the Christian god directly help out these beleagered churches. I think we all know why.
Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM

One of the places where you’re going off track in the intellectual honesty dept. is in assuming to know the mind of God and having anointed yourself His Prophet.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:28 PM

FlatFoot on March 10, 2012 at 4:22 PM

LOL! I don’t consider MC an insulter but he will argue with a fence post. Of course I should point out that while Jailbreak certainly meant to insult, I do not consider supporters of any of the Republican candidates as objects of ridicule.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Want to know why we have such evil leadership in this country?

tom daschle concerned on March 10, 2012 at 4:29 PM

There’s not much more that I need to know about you or your mindset that is not immediately evident from your arrogant opening statement, which implies that you apparently know what goes on in the minds of other people, and your use of quotation marks around words that have absolutely no need for quotation marks.
Dopenstrange on March 10, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Must be a wonderful superpower to be able to read not only the minds of humans, but also that of God’s.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Gosh, if Churches and other Not-for-Profits aren’t around to do the job of helping people. Who will fill the vacuum?

Gosh, if Catholic hospitals and charities aren’t allowed to abide by their religious principles and can’t be reimbursed for medical care and such from the Federal government who would move in and fill that void, and provide that care to people that might need it?

….oh wait, do you think the Federal Government (God of the Progressives) might be interested in doing that?

PappyD61 on March 10, 2012 at 4:33 PM

What also wasn’t mentioned, but I suspect is true, is that the congregations involved are apt to be poorer and with more minority members than mainstream congregations. It is only a matter of time before foreclosing on churches is racist or something.

Happy Nomad on March 10, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Rather strange that you characterize “minority” churches as outside the mainstream, as they are the most visible, accessible part of any nonwhite community.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 10, 2012 at 4:34 PM

PappyD61 on March 10, 2012 at 4:33 PM

Excellent points!!!

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM

…is that spelled…A n a l ?

KOOLAID2 on March 10, 2012 at 4:37 PM

LOL – I can tell you have little or no church experience.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Well said. As if churches are “one size fits all.” And this isn’t even a debate over the tenets of faith of different denominations. I belong to one of the so-called mainstream denominations and it took three tries to find “my” church.

The first had wonderful members but it is a dying congregation without young families joining or even a Sunday School. The Q-tip factor (what you see when you stand at the back of the sanctuary and look forward) was high. IMO, it is impossible to have a thriving church unless you have a congregation which reflects all stages of life.

The second congregation was cold and had a very specific agenda. After six months of attending services there, the pastor still had not ever even acknowledged that I was a “regular.” When we had prayers for the passage of Obamacare and not the wisdom of Congress, I knew it was time to leave.

The third church was just right. I’ve grown spiratually in ways that I never thought possible.

Happy Nomad on March 10, 2012 at 4:38 PM

PappyD61 on March 10, 2012 at 4:33 PM

…it’s an overt goal it seems!

KOOLAID2 on March 10, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Besides wouldn’t a church closing be a divine sign the heresy was there being preached?
Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

…and why would not the Christian god directly help out these beleagered churches. I think we all know why.
Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Winner of “Most Idiotic Posts of the Day” !!! Yayyy! Congrats !!!!

Dopenstrange on March 10, 2012 at 4:39 PM

A church ought to know better than anyone/any organization that it’s not wise to owe money.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Churches have historically carried mortgages, there is nothing wrong or irresponsible about it. In fact, if they didn’t there would be a whole lot less churches. The problem is the abnormally long recession, something that is not at all normative in the United States. I work with a few places of worship and all of them are seeing steep declines in giving.

I have known churches that managed to rent a place until they saved enough money to buy or build a church outright, and that’s a good thing but no possible in all cases and shouldn’t be necessary.

I guess what I’m saying is that many of these churches probably didn’t do anything irresponsible and, in fact, had the resources and wisdom to last longer than 1/4 of home mortgage holders in America. Planning for government intervention to cause a recession to stretch out much, much further than it otherwise would have is not necessarally something that a churches normally should be expected to do.

29Victor on March 10, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Hopefully these bankruptcies are limited to the Pro Obama far left churches that preach government dominance and a hatred of traditional religion. Of course if the fuhrer’s supporters go bankrupt we will see a mortgage forgiveness plan before Congress with all the typical anti religious lefties supporting it.

Smedley on March 10, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Besides wouldn’t a church closing be a divine sign the heresy was there being preached?
Annar on March 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Peter was crucified head down in Rome, 66 A.D.
Andrew was bound to death. He preached until his death in 74 A.D.
James , son of Zebedee, was beheaded in Jerusalem by the sword. (Acts 12:1-9).
John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, 96 A.D. (Rev. 1- 9).
Phillip was crucified at Heirapole, Phryga, 52 A.D.
Bartholomew was beaten, crucified, then beheaded by the command of a king, 52 A.D.
Thomas was run through by a lance at Corehandal, East Indies, 52 A.D.
Matthew was slain by the sword in the city of Ethiopia about 60 A.D.
James son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle, then beaten to death, 60 A.D.
Thaddeus was shot to death by arrows, 72 A.D.
Simon was crucified in Persia, 74 A.D.

So..no, it’s not.

BakerAllie on March 10, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Winner of “Most Idiotic Posts of the Day” !!! Yayyy! Congrats !!!!

Dopenstrange on March 10, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Bigots historically say idiotic things about the people they look down their noses on.

29Victor on March 10, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Sorry bammy ppl haven’t stopped worshipping, they just do it in a different place.

angrymike on March 10, 2012 at 4:45 PM

I think there’s more to this than simply a bad economy.

Our family currently attends a church that is one of the largest baptist churches in the country. The church has been debt-free since the 70′s. We’ll be moving into our new worship center shortly, which is considerably larger than our previous. A cost of over $20 million was daunting, but we saved and paid cash for it. We also have a sizable budget for local outreach, assorted community programs (We’ll be renovating worn out 2 local public schools, among other things) and we support hundreds of missionaries and projects worldwide.

We previously attended a church that several years ago had 3000+ members. About the same time, the pastor began following and teaching from the likes of Jim Wallis, Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren and others. As the word of God became less important and feelings, emotions and radical interpretations of scripture became the focus, membership at that church began to decline. Today, that church has 7 figures of debt, 600 members at best and no hope of paying the loans back.

My point is, that churches are also in a period of consolidation. As some churches deviate from hundreds of years of established doctrine, folks established in their faith, seeking truth, will either 1) help correct the misguided/false teaching of the pastor or 2) depart for a church whose teaching is biblical and remains solid.

The economy may be a part of the problem, certainly, but bad teaching and failure to follow biblical principles also play a part as well. Just my 2 cents.

av8tr on March 10, 2012 at 4:46 PM

They made unrealistic settlement demands and then, as soon as the bank filed on them, took to the press and had other pastors call the judge to complain.

Outlander on March 10, 2012 at 4:14 PM

In other words, they attempted to play the God Card.

Happy Nomad on March 10, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Smedley on March 10, 2012 at 4:43 PM

The only losses I want to see based on ideology are elections.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 4:48 PM

As the word of God became less important and feelings, emotions and radical interpretations of scripture became the focus, membership at that church began to decline. Today, that church has 7 figures of debt, 600 members at best and no hope of paying the loans back.
av8tr on March 10, 2012 at 4:46 PM

When you mix Liberal political concepts into any form of Christianity, it’s always a death knell. Sometimes literally, as with Jonestown.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:54 PM

The only losses I want to see based on ideology are elections.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Halelu!
;D

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 10, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Just pointing out a possible reason for churches finding themselves in this unusual position but good job maintaining your place as number one needless insulter.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Yeah, you’re right. My post sucked. sorry about that. Seriously.

But, as previously pointed out, MC is the number one needless insulter.

Jailbreak on March 10, 2012 at 4:59 PM

What The Nerve just wrote ^^ because I was wondering why the “Hallelujah” declaration, too, regarding this news.

Very peculiar rejoicing about the misfortune of others.

Lourdes on March 10, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Geez I didn’t take it that way at all. I figured Jazz was being ironic, as in – look at this rotten economy even churches are having misfortune, hallelujah (ironic insert) oh great economy. As a nascent writer I understand the urge to flip a word and its meaning on itself. I don’t think he intended any insult.:-)

DoubleClutchin on March 10, 2012 at 5:00 PM

One of the places where you’re going off track in the intellectual honesty dept. is in assuming to know the mind of God and having anointed yourself His Prophet.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Not really a problem since I don’t believe in any of those Abrahamic god characters. I’m only referencing what others believe. And to be sure, the Islamists believe as much in their fairy tale god as any Christian does in his (hers). Of course, neither as any real evidence to support their claim.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Jailbreak on March 10, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Not a problem, MC does like to argue and can be a bit overly extraneous. I only point it out when it is directed at me.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Winner of “Most Idiotic Posts of the Day” !!! Yayyy! Congrats !!!!

Dopenstrange on March 10, 2012 at 4:39 PM

The sheer genius of your deep and thoughtful replies is an inspiration. I guess this is what blind faith does to people as it erases the totality of their rational capacities. Keep up the good work.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 5:06 PM

The sheer genius of your deep and thoughtful replies is an inspiration. I guess this is what blind faith does to people as it erases the totality of their rational capacities. Keep up the good work.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Apparently it erases yours as well since your thoughts seem to be consumed with God and people who believe in God. Maybe you’re being punked … you know, by the Big Guy.

darwin on March 10, 2012 at 5:08 PM

The economy may be a part of the problem, certainly, but bad teaching and failure to follow biblical principles also play a part as well. Just my 2 cents.

av8tr on March 10, 2012 at 4:46 PM

There is truth in your comments and a lot of wisdom.

The only thing I would add is that there is a trend for society to be increasingly secular. In my neighborhood, my household is the only one that actually goes to any church on a regular basis. I am sure this was not the case in the past. Frankly I really don’t care for the parents. They have made their own decisions. I weep for their children who never get the opportunity to find a higher being.

Barak Hussein Obama claims to be a Christian despite his Muslim name and two decades of attending a racist church. He has daughters. In the past three years the Obamas have worshiped six times and each of those events were photo-ops (like Bill Clinton waving the Bible the Sunday after he was impeached by the House ).

Where is the idea that Obama is even a good Christian?

Happy Nomad on March 10, 2012 at 5:10 PM

wonder how many people can’t meet their tithes due to unemployment?

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Um, cindy? Um, if you are unemployed, and have no money coming in, how can you pay tithing? 10% of zero is zero.

Lemme guess…Santorum supporter?

Jailbreak on March 10, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Lemme guess…clueless liberal?

In addition to lower amounts coming in (congregants with suddenly reduced income have less to give), there may be more going out. Our church’s food pantry has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families seeking assistance (most of whom are not members of our congregation).

CJ on March 10, 2012 at 5:12 PM

A church ought to know better than anyone/any organization that it’s not wise to owe money.
whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Churches have historically carried mortgages, there is nothing wrong or irresponsible about it. In fact, if they didn’t there would be a whole lot less churches. The problem is the abnormally long recession, something that is not at all normative in the United States. I work with a few places of worship and all of them are seeing steep declines in giving.
I have known churches that managed to rent a place until they saved enough money to buy or build a church outright, and that’s a good thing but no possible in all cases and shouldn’t be necessary.
I guess what I’m saying is that many of these churches probably didn’t do anything irresponsible and, in fact, had the resources and wisdom to last longer than 1/4 of home mortgage holders in America. Planning for government intervention to cause a recession to stretch out much, much further than it otherwise would have is not necessarally something that a churches normally should be expected to do.
29Victor on March 10, 2012 at 4:42 PM

My point is more radical (as in “root”) than all that. Basically put; if you don’t owe money, you don’t have problems with creditors.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Maybe you’re being punked … you know, by the Big Guy.

darwin on March 10, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Who might that be? Obama, the Pope, the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Actually, I like and get along fine most of the religious people I meet, including priests and rabbis, even if their religious beliefs are absurd.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 10, 2012 at 4:59 PM

LOL! I know how to pick my enemies and God isn’t one of them.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2012 at 5:20 PM

The sheer genius of your deep and thoughtful replies is an inspiration. I guess this is what blind faith does to people as it erases the totality of their rational capacities. Keep up the good work.

Annar on March 10, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Thank you for recognizing and appreciating the depth and thoughtfulness of my replies, and I am so glad that you draw inspiration from them. I wish I could say the same about your posts, but, alas, the totality of my rational capacities does not allow it. Keep trying and Godspeed!

Dopenstrange on March 10, 2012 at 5:21 PM

One of the places where you’re going off track in the intellectual honesty dept. is in assuming to know the mind of God and having anointed yourself His Prophet.
whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 4:28 PM

I’m only referencing what others believe.
Annar on March 10, 2012 at 5:01 PM

No. You may have fashioned a few strawmen totally from your imagining and, as a defense mechanism, offered them up as what “God thinks” but that’s all. Complete intellectual dishonesty.
First, you’ll have to take the time to actually learn what people may believe. This is best done by engaging in honest conversation with them and asking “Do I understand this correctly?” as you go along. But, as it is now, you’re just pulling defensively dishonest keerap out of your backside and trying to declare it something other than that.

whatcat on March 10, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Unlike my militant brethren who haaaaate religion, I find cheer and liberation in being an atheist. The nuns of childhood (and, natch, parents) gifted me the values (truth, duty, honor, charity, etc.)I hold today, which are practiced because I want to, not for fear of damnation if I don’t.

Peace!
:D

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 10, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Jazz Shaw, for the sake of discussion it would be interesting to know how many new church organizations were created in the last decade or what these foreclosures represent as a percentage of all active development loans to religious organizations. This would be a better indicator of the problems that are occurring, would it not?

AttaBoyLuther on March 10, 2012 at 5:57 PM

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