Investing in Churches: The Battle Rages

Published on 7th August 2009

Q.While I am captivated by Ejike’s manicured and savvy presentation of view points, I am totally disappointed by the content of the opinion. First of all, there is no conclusive study which shows that the impediment of economic progress in the black race stems from financial investment in Churches or that the equal investment on Churches if geared towards the economic goal alone could put them on equal footing with other races. If blacks lack a strong financial and economic foundation but have diverted other resources into the spiritual foundation, what’s wrong with it? Who are we to judge? How can we determine that economic stability is far much better than spiritual stability?


A.The gist of my essay is that 'Blacks/Africans' will rather build a church than invest in institutions that will help advance their course and cause. The same people 'Blacks/Africans' run to for aid, assistance, are playing down the role of the church as they advance other aspects of their life. They will build mega churches but also build mega businesses that create jobs.


If all a people do is build churches that they use on Sunday but Monday thru Friday, they are victims of economic manipulations, low employment opportunities, no financial institutions to support their existence, doesn't that call for a re-thinking on how to spend community resource to improve their life?


Yes, folks should pursue their spiritual growth any way they see fit. But how about the growth of other aspects of their lives? Should folks build churches and then go 'begging' for their daily existence? In today's world, if other ethnic groups that are also pursuing spiritual growth are doing other things while blacks/Africans are catching the rear building churches, then who is controlling the destiny of Blacks/Africans? In Dallas, there is no African-American owned bank, good shopping centers, and all the other significant investments that create jobs, instead they build mega-churches.


Here are examples: Community A builds a church for the sum of $50 million in a depressed neighborhood. In terms of economic impact and base, Community A has zero tax base. This is Economics 101. Community B builds a church for $20 million, invests $10 million on a retail center containing 100,000 square feet, $10 million in a warehouse/distribution facility, and $5m in municipal bond, the balance of $5m, in a small office building. If they chose, they can charter a bank with $300,000, and own the majority shares.


Using the two examples, what is the highest and best use of money? What option impacts the community more? Have you heard of the term: Economic Impact Study on Invested Dollar? Do you know the difference between return on and return of invested dollar? 


Let me gyrate your mind with some education on stretching a dollar.Community B has the best option and use of money, and here is why: the $20m facility is not taxed and does not add value for the community economic base- the primary activity a community is engaged in to produce goods and services, which in turn create employments and return on and return of investments.


Retail centers that are stabilized and rented at market rent is expected to have gross trading revenue of about $350 per square foot, with sales at 8.25% for sales tax - Texas. The sales tax is shared by the state and the community at the rate of 6% for the state and 2.5% for the community. The retail center will produce $35,000,000 in gross sales yielding tax revenue of $2,887,500, which is distributed as follows: $875,000 to the local community and $2,012,500 to the state. And with a 3 times matching what the state give to the local community, their revenue of $875,000, turns into $2,625,000. In addition to the sales tax, the real estate tax contributes another $270,000, which is shared between the city, county hospital, county college district, police, and all the other taxing entities.


So far, have you seen the impact of $10m invested? By now you are probably confused and left gasping because of the numbers, so I will do you a favor and stop here. A church/community that adopts Example B using the 'peoples' money, will depend less on the congregation for tithes. But a church that uses Example A, will always ask the congregation for money.


One can do many things with a single dollar. It is the distribution of the dollar that matters. While Blacks/Africans will sink all the resources building a mega church, the others will seek ways to distribute the resource to maximize the impact and benefit, and still improve their spiritual content. Just the number of jobs created at the retail center, will be more than the jobs the $50m church will create. At the end of the day, when one worships his creator with a full stomach, he is better than the one who worships on  an empty stomach. Yes, one can  build the church and call upon his creator all day long, but when that is over, if the mortgage is due, if the kids hunger, if medical treatment is needed, no miracle takes care of that. For some may be, but in reality one better pay up.


Note in the above examples, I stopped at just the retail center so that I stop agonizing your understanding. By investing and distributing the $30m out of $50m, a community stands to benefit because they touch on all the aspects of human development. If the saying that one should not put all their eggs in one basket makes sense, then why invest all the $50m in church?


Ejike e Okpa ii 


Next generation Fellow, Dallas Texas.

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