Governing Freak-out and the Local Church

How church world intersects with the maneuverings of federal budgets and spending cuts, a.k.a. sequester

Several years ago, a church planter and I walked into a school district administrator’s office in the Chicago metropolitan area to suggest that we rent one of the district schools for Sunday worship services. We promised to pay a good rental rate. We promised to pay the rent on time. We wouldn’t break anything but, if we did, we’d be quick to replace whatever it was that we broke. We’d be good citizens.We knew the district was hungry for more cash, so we thought we had a good shot of working out an agreement. But the answer was a quick, firm and non-negotiable No.

Was it because the administrator hated the thought of a church in the district schools? Maybe he doesn’t know that he can’t legally forbid a church from renting the facilities if others rent the facilities. Or maybe he was just having a tough day. 

No, it’s not that, he said. The taxpayers just voted down a property tax increase. We don’t want to add revenue at this time.

He didn’t want to add revenue at this time . . . because taxpayers voted against adding their revenue at this time. I remember thinking it was all so very weird. The district wanted cash. We would have provided a good monthly chunk. But the administrators obviously were planning to punish taxpayers because they did not cooperate with the district’s tax plan. Doesn’t matter if other revenue sources could be found or, for that matter, if spending cuts could be found. Bottom line was that the taxpayers would suffer consequences for their stubbornness. District services would be stripped away as a first resort to cause pain to taxpayers.

I think about that local school administrator when I read the headlines about the consequences of federal budget cuts. The people will suffer consequences, whether the consequences are needed or not. They must feel pain.

So the federal government is facing 5 percent cuts in programs that have increased by an average of more than 17 percent during the Obama presidency. Airline flights will be delayed, children and old people will suffer. Food quality will decline. Prisoners will be set free to terrorize us. Governing via freak-out.

I’ve seen this movie before. Now it’s re-runs over and over and over. We truly are strangers in a strange land. The human heart is desperately sick, as the Lord said in Jeremiah 17:9. Thank the Lord for His word and His church.