I’m looking at the web site of a church that many of my friends are joining. It's a new church, just a few years old. Its web site is one of the slickest I’ve ever seen. It’s gorgeous - there's no way this was designed by just a helpful congregation member. This is a professionally-designed web site.
I’m deeply suspicious of this church, both because of their quick rise in numbers and because of the oh-so-slick web site that lacks of information about who is behind this institution. There are:
- no names of pastors/leaders or other staff listed
- no biographies of pastors/leaders or other staff, including where the leaders studied theology, where else they have lived, what other religious communities they have lead, etc.
- no info about how money they raise for the church, temple, mosque, community is used (what percentage goes to property rent/mortgage/upkeep? to salaries? to cover costs incurred by volunteers/to support volunteers? to charities, nonprofits or overseas missions? to congregants in need?)
How are you supposed to know if this organization is fiscally responsible? And how are you supposed to know if the people leading this religious community:
- have the credentials to lead a religious community?
- have the knowledge to lead a religious community?
- haven’t been convicted or arrested, or involved in any scandal elsewhere?
I wonder what would happen if someone went to the leadership of this church and asked for this information to be posted publicly… maybe someone has? It would be interesting to see if the church embraced the idea and posted the info, or avoided doing it - and has been avoiding doing it. I find it odd that the site is otherwise SO well-designed.
Even if the pastors were listed, along with their credentials, I'd do some more digging, as I’ve looked at other web sites of churches and mosques, and often, the name of institute where someone says they studied theology cannot be found on a web search, or the institute has no accreditation by a recognized body.
Surely you would want appropriate credentials of your accountant, teachers at your kids' school, the person that designed your in-ground pool, etc. Why not those that are telling you how to live?
Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Jains, whatever: do you really want to believe that transparency isn’t necessary for churches, mosques, temples and other religious communities? Do you think your magical, invisible friend that won’t protect children from being raped will, however, protect the people going to your church/mosque/temple/whatever and you don’t need to do a little digging into these people that are telling you how to live, what to believe, and to give them money?