21 April 2010

church, business and the intersection there between

Okay, so I ramble, go off on a tangent and then stay there. Deal with it.

I work at a church. It's a very small church. There are five employees. Me (7 hours/week), another administrative assistant (call her Penny - also 7 hours per week), the custodian, the music minister, and the minister/pastor/priest/whatever you wanna call her. So most of the work that gets done around there is done by volunteers, and whoa, what a ride that can be.

If you attend any Christian church (or Unitarian, they're just as bad), you'll know that there are committees upon committees upon committees of volunteers who run the church. Of course, this results in about 6 people who do everything, and those are usually the people who would be better off as pew-sitters. You know, like government. Anyway, because churches are also getting older, the volunteers at my job are all over 65, and only one of them is under 75. My rep on M&P (i.e. personnel) is 83. I shit you not. So things are pretty old school around work.

Old school. You do know what this means right? Penny and I are "the girls in the office". Penny is a grandmother (I'm guessing she's about 55). And I'm 35. And some of the older men treat us like "the office girls", i.e. giving us their typing, flirting with us (A 91 year old man told me that I should get a job on a sex-phone line because my voice was very sexy. And yes, he called it a sex-phone, not phone sex).

So yeah, sexist. But I can deal with sexism. What I'm starting to really find appalling is the politics of money in the church. Churches are registered charities, and should not be making a profit. So charging rent for rooms and labelling it "donation for use of church" is so dishonest it's stupid. Fortunately, that's about to stop at the church I work at. But what I'm really finding sickening is the attitudes of the older folks who seem to think that the church is *theirs*, that it belongs to the people who go there. No. That is exactly the problem. For example, there is a group that underpays, by a lot. I don't particularly care, because I view the church as a community centre, a group of people who serve the community they worship in. However, what I'm running into is a capitalistic attitude. "They're taking advantage of us", I hear. Well yeah. They should. We're here to serve the community. To figure out what we can do for them spiritually, and if that means opening our doors for their use, well, so be it. But WOW am I running into resistance! They talk in business terms. They talk about profit.

Now, I know you can't run a building on prayers and faith. You need money. But I strongly feel that a church shouldn't be a business. We shouldn't be competing with the churches down the street. We shouldn't be setting our room rates at the same price as the school across the street. We should be serving the community meals (I work in an area with a growing homeless problem). We should be finding out what the community needs, and work with them to run the building. If we give them what they need, they'll give us what we do.