Today I was hearing a discussion on the SCOTUS's upcoming looking into same sex marriage. Before I get into what I have to say, let me preface. If same-sex couples want to get married, fine. Their sin is on whatever conscience they have. If they want to do it in a Church, fine again. There are a lot of fallen denominations out there that will be happy to help. The Episcopals will, I believe, and I think the United Methodists will unite just about anything. However, I feel that true, Bible-believing Christian Churches, who still teach that homosexuality is a perversion and an abomination as God taught, should have the right to refuse to provide the service.
But on the radio on the way home tonight, I heard that the spectre of tax-exempt status is being floated like a sword of Damocles above the heads of Churches that will not bend to "society's will". Would they actually do that? Well, one argument I am told was brought up by Justice Breyer compared refusing to marry homosexual couples is comparable to apartheid and Jim Crow segregation laws (which, BTW, was based on the Court coming up with "separate but equal"). The commentator pointed out that both of those were regional in scope and limited in time, where marriage has been "one man-one woman" for millennia- or to put it his way, "This isn't comparing apples and oranges, this is comparing apples to bricks." Another argument being floated by one of the lady Justices was to bring up a Louisiana case from ages ago that held the man should get all property in a divorce. What does that have to do with it? The lady Justice claimed that "This proves that the concept of marriage has changed over the years." No, it proves that legal distribution of properties has changed. Marriage hadn't changed.
So, what is my point? If you think for one minute that this sword of Damocles can't fall, Christian churches, you are WRONG. THey can, and someday will, yank tax-exemption from you, and then where will you be? The great palatial megachurches, from Blackhawk and Grace Gathering in Fort Wayne, to the great palaces in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Atlanta where your favorite TV and radio preachers hold forth, they will get hit first. Do we downsize, sell, go bankrupt, get rid of our missions, food banks, and social services? And the small ones, too, who don't have the Daddy Warbucks congregants to cushion the blow and function on a shoestring? Their choices will likely be "all of the above."
This should send out a signal message- the day of the institutional Church may be coming to an end. And don't expect that the government that pulls tax-exemption is going to give you a break. In my opinion, pastors should be training up people to lead small, home based meetings in lieu of traditional services, because that will be the state of the Church sooner rather than later. We should be ready, and willing to accept tomorrow's church will meet in 10s and 12s at George's house, or around a table at IHOP. Now, some people might be saying, "Well, our church already does a lot of small-group stuff, it won't be that big of a transition."
Is your group leader fully trained, able to find a Bible verse at the drop of a hat? Has he been asked all the questions that he is likely to need to know the answers to? Has he been prayed for and prayed OVER- extensively? There's a big difference between what these microchurches will need and, "Hey, Jack, Pete didn't show up, can you run adult Sunday School?" Believe me, because I've done that before. Men will have to stand in the breach like never before. Is your group leader prepared for if the game gets serious?
I've said this before- we have to be ready for the day when Rome no longer hears the appeal. Pastors, you cannot afford to wait on this! The world you know could be drastically changed come June. Do you have men that could help on a moment's notice in a month's, 3 months' six months' time?