$350K Again

Some clarification seems to be necessary given the reactions to this post (see the greensboring.com reference to me here and PotatoStew’s comment) about Greensboro’s Westover Church and their purchase of a Midas XL8 sound console for their new auditorium.  Here goes:

First, I don’t know what Westover paid for the console.  The $350K price is what I’ve been told is the asking price by friends in the business (not that anyone really cares).  For all I know, Midas may have given the console to the church outright just so they could get their foot in the door of the church market.

I am not advocating for the church on this one, nor am I saying this purchase is a good idea.  I am saying that it could be a good idea, and that it’s neither reasonable nor fair to automatically assume that something’s amiss if a church makes a purchase like this.

Here’s what’s bugging me about the whole brouhaha:  the existence of a nobler, more charitable cause than the one in question is, in the end, not a legitimate argument against the purchase of anything, including this sound console (see ignoratio elenchi or red herring).  There will always be a nobler, more charitable cause.  None other than Judas himself made the "this should have been given to the poor" argument when Mary anointed the feet of Jesus, and was rebuked accordingly (see the passage here).

I have seen far too many good ideas go down in flames because someone flashed a picture of a starving child in a decision-maker’s face and accused him or her of indifference or neglect because of where the money wasn’t going. 

Having said all that….

If Westover is purchasing this box as part of its strategy to become the premiere theatrical space in town for the good of the town, then this is a good purchase.  It may or may not be a good strategy, but if the action is strategically tied to the church’s mission, then you do it.

If, however, Westover is purchasing this box simply because it can, then this is stupid.  If there is no overall strategy in place to match the sound quality with lighting, programming, and content quality, then someone is engaged in some serious ego stroking. 

It is very rare to see a church that operates with the level of missiological and strategic focus that would make this purchase make sense.  Westover may be one of them.  I really don’t know.


2 Responses to “$350K Again”

  1. 1 The Mattchews December 18, 2006 at 9:05 am

    Look at you Mr. “I was linked on a newspaper and now I got to many comments”-ity pants. WOW! I am amazed you’ll even hang out with us anymore. 🙂

    I saw a little thing on the news last night that made me think of this. A certain downtown church in Knox-vegas just spent $150k on brass bells for their steeple – that’s right $150k on BELLS! This was a dream of this church since its creation, or so they say. Well 60 years later they have their bells.

    The pastor said something like he hoped the people of Knox-vegas would think of the love of God each time they heard those bells. You know what I say? HOGWASH! A soundsystem is one thing, granted that is an EXPENSIVE soundsystem. But 150 grand on bells! CRIPES! Bells ringing doesn’t feed the community or preach the gospel or even smile at someone. Telford has had a bell all my life and it rings every Sunday Morning but you know what, it sure did not cost $150 grand!

    I don’t think its the bells that bother me so bad, it is the perception here. Hey, you want nice bells in your belfry, great. Then be a church with guts, say you want the bells and hang those bad boys and don’t try to manipulate the situation to make it come off as “evangelism”. That’s my take.

  2. 2 byron December 18, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Mr. Mattchews–

    Hmmm…. I think the pastor is expressing a good desire that dovetails with the intent of good church architecture (of which Church Street UMC is an excellent example): that is, that the building itself will express the character of God. Not only His majesty and glory, but his love and acceptance (in all its extravagance) can be expressed in the art of the building design.

    Chiming bells on the hour really is a way to extend grace to the community: believers and non-believers, worshipers and non-worshipers get a little free, un-merited concert just because. That’s good news, and that’s gospel. Evangelism should be the extension of grace to the world, not just trying to get people to pray the “sinners prayer.”

    Lastly, you gotta consider that this isn’t just a 20-year investment. These bells will outlive all of us. One could easily make the case that the bells will deliver higher dollar-for-dollar value than Westover’s console.

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