Column: What contribution from the Church?


Commentary by Michael VandenBerg

Recently I was discussing with a friend the contribution to a community that the church makes. They understood that there were moral and ethical contributions and that often they added to the training of children to become better citizens, but most contributions they thought were directed toward its own members.

As a former director of a large community non-profit network, I had come to understand that, though often hidden, the church is a great provider to the overall welfare of any community. One church network that I helped to found back in the ’80s started out its first year contributing over 3.5 million dollars in both goods and services to community people for a mere 30 thousand dollar investment by the church.

Individual congregations contribute in big and small ways, but make no doubt, their contribution multiplies rather than offers fractions. Let me give you a closer example. The small congregation I serve had, for five years, a program that contributed over 100 loaves of bread every week to two local food pantries.  If an average loaf of bread sells for $2 that is over $10,000 per year in bread. Then there is the labor to deliver it, we’ll figure at below minimum wage of $7 per hour to make the math simple. We had a total of four man hours each week for a total of 28 per week or over 1,400 for a total of 11,400 per year. 11,400 contributions donated for a total cost of zero dollars. With all volunteers the church multiplies its responses. Those who facilitated this gift were doctors, auto salespeople, professors and even a judge.

The government for independent grants considers 15 percent administrative costs to be good, many non-profits consider 20 percent to be good and unfortunately, some for profit and some non-profits actually use over 80 percent for administration. All these contribute fractions rather than multipliers.

This illustration is just one program from one small church. There are multiple programs and hundreds of churches, all contributing to the overall welfare of the community. This doesn’t even consider the hospitals, schools, universities and agricultural projects that churches contribute. Church is more than just preaching, it is being the body of Christ for the world.


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