Monday, August 4, 2008

Comparing Golf Club Memberships with Churches

I thought it might be interesting to compare membership in a golf club with membership in a church. Let's start with a slightly better than average golf club.

For less than $3,000 my wife and I can have memberships to 3 city owned golf courses in London, Ontario (1 of them is two minutes from my house).

Benefits include:

Unlimited play on 3 very good courses.
Great clubhouses designed for you to spend time to sit and relax with friends.
You don’t have to join and you won’t feel guilty for leaving or not showing up that week.
If we think the membership dues are too expensive we can opt for the $500 fee that gives us all the benefits of the club for half price each time we use it.

There are a few downsides to the membership:

They are only open for 9 months.
You have to like playing golf.
You don’t get a charitable receipt for your membership.

How does this compare to churches?

Churches tend to be more expensive: 10% of family income is the suggested minimum.
(There is some negotiation over gross or net.)

You get a clubhouse that is purposely designed to discourage talking with friends.
To be fair, some churches do allow short greetings in the clubhouse before and after its primary use. However, lengthy conversations are still discouraged.
(Some people think that talking to friends misses the point of the clubhouse altogether.)

If you don’t show up once a week you are supposed to feel guilty. (Back in my early days guilt was required if you didn't show up twice in the week.)

Even if you don’t like the church meetings you should still join for life or at least join another church with similar requirements.

If you do opt out of the church expect members to ignore you. (Some of the more kind hearted members will have a deep sense of pity for your foolishness.)

You can also expect appeals to give more money above and beyond your 10%.
(That’s considered real giving by some.)

As a faithful church member you should always be on the lookout for new recruits.
(Don't worry, you only have to give lip service to this notion, 98% of members have never recruited anyone, except perhaps their own children or people from other churches.)

You will be asked to give the best part of your week to the clubhouse.
(Your children might be very resentful to you for this. Hopefully your membership will buy great activities for your kids during this time. If not, at least you'll know you did the right thing.)

Disagreeing with the pastor of the church is somewhat allowed and can be done in direct proportion to the size of the membership dues you give each week.
(However, members will not remain friends with you if you openly disagree with the pastor.)

Benefits include:

The pastor will do your thinking for you.
(You may get the extra benefit of being told what not to read.)

A sense of well being that you have done your duty for the week.

Generally, you only use the clubhouse once a week. (I wasn't sure if this should be in the benefit or downside category.)

If you’re sick you MIGHT even get a visit from the pastor. (Obviously, your continued offerings are not the motivator for the visit.)

Most importantly: with a strange twist on the value of selfless giving, you will get a tax receipt for giving to yourself.

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