We are all familiar with the constitutional implication that no state should establish religion, thereby suggesting that colonists would have freedom to worship according to the dictates of their faith.
This discussion of the separation of church and state has unleashed a furious debate among conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats about the role of the Christian church in governmental service delivery. I wholeheartedly believe that churches have a spiritual obligation to not only promulgate the gospel, but also to serve our communities in social, economic, educational and humanitarian ways to better the quality of life for all.
But while you may agree or disagree with the role of the church in governmental service delivery, there is no constitutional ban on the role of the Christian church and capitalism.
If the church is to continue to serve the nation with after-school programs, homeless shelters, economic development, job and business creation, along with adaptive reuse of vacant urban buildings or sprawling estates, it will require outside capital and the church's full entry into the capitalistic system without theological compromise.
Now before you get beside yourself, Jesus started Christianity by empowering, coaching and mentoring 12 businessmen with the ultimate business plan: "Change the world." Without cell phones, PDAs, e-mail addresses, satellites or DSL, they went forth and impacted the world with a message of hope and transformation given to them by a Galilean Jewish preacher. Imagine that, they didn't even take a Bible; none was available.
The church must maximize marketplace evangelism, networking and product introduction in order to compete with the well-resourced heretics of secular humanism with alternate lifestyle agendas that are not only gaining political clout but economic strength as well. We will be unable to compete with the world or complete our mission without finances.
Urban churches and inner-city ministries are struggling to transform communities because religion cannot overcome the economic, socio-political and psychological barriers in a dysfunctional environment by sermonizing alone.
Unless and until we go full-throttle into capitalism, we will be outspent by P. Diddy, Fifty Cent and every other hip-hop, rock and new flavor entertainer with a passion to systematically dismantle our faith.
Suburban churches are equally challenged to keep up with big-box retail and have plunged into big-box worship centers across the nation in an effort to beat back the growing tide of ungodly commercialization of our core values. I salute our mega-churches that are financed to do battle. Our prayer is to create divine financial strategies that will provide new resources to ministries that are outspent and outmarketed by liquor stores, Xboxes and professional sports.
Separate church and state, but don't separate church and capitalism.
Matthew L. Brown, former communications director for Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, is pastor of Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ.