I’ve always been amazed at just how many churches there are in my little city of less than 20,000 residents. I used to joke that there was a different church on just about every street corner. I recently did a Google Maps search for “church” in Tullahoma, TN and nearly dropped my jaw.
Here’s the map. (scroll down the listings on the left side and start clicking ‘Next’)
With 10 churches listed on each page, I made it to page 8 before the results started to get into neighboring cities and towns.
Now, some of these churches are small, single building establishments with a small congregation and many of them disappear after a couple years of service only to be replaced by another funny named worship center a few months later. A few, however, dwarf entire subdivisions where people are struggling to feed their families. Take the newly erected Church of Christ at Cedar Lane. The size of this 15-acre complex-o-worship is gargantuan compared to the government-run Tullahoma Housing Authority subdivision right across the street and is as large as about half the apartment complex right next door. (Here’s a Google Maps image – the complex was still in construction when this image was taken, but you can still make size comparisons. THA subdivision is to the left, apartment complex is above.)
According to city-data.com, in 1999, 17.2% of Tullahoma residents live below the poverty level and 7.3% live below 50% of the poverty level. The median household income in 2007 was $36,500. So, when I think about all the money spent building, running and maintaining these houses of prayer, I’m never quite sure whether to laugh or cry. Imagine if just a fraction of that money had been spent on things that actually advance this small city and its residents (like our city’s school system and our fantastic Hands-On Science Center) instead of being spent on first century stupidity.
Honestly! How many churches do you need?