The crowd is maddening. As a group, it can have a persona, stable characteristics over time and is institutionally accredited by the community or partially by the people who surround it. As it builds and grows, the people recede into the background where once they were the foreground. The monolithic building structure must be maintained and it requires workers: groundskeepers, mechanics, energy producers and cooks. Whether it is in growth mode or stable or decline, it becomes like a monarch whose kingdom demands feeding.
When this entity is a church or The Church, a complicated and complex web of relationships are spawned. Families are “kept” from birth until death and beyond. As a tank in a war, its battleship rolls across the seas of congregants even if the individuals change with marriage, graduation, geographical movement or relocation from floods and famine. The mission may include the nurturance of the poor in spirit and in body; but the vast needs of the folk involved are “middle of the road.” Mothers who are willing to teach Sunday school and Vacation Bible school for free and asking to be paid by the pastor’s compliments. Grandfathers who hand out treats of mints and chewing gum after the service increase the warmth and the feeling of family. The Board meets monthly to oversee all of the activities. Their job is vast. They pay the gas bill, make lists of shut-ins and Bibles to donate and determine which of a myriad array of domestic and foreign missions will be supported throughout the year. While it is a massive undertaking, much of the labor is without monetary compensation. Free it is not.