I was on the air, talking about how hard it is for people, it seems, to find places to get married. It's expensive to use church buildings these days -- even for people who've been "members" for years.
Caller: Well, I'm on staff at our church, and there's a good reason we charge $500 for people to use the building for a wedding.
Me: That's what the church charges members who've actually paid for the building over the years?
Caller: Yes. It's really expensive to run the power and clean up and everything.
Me: Of course it is. So if the pastor wants to have a "Let's Celebrate Our Grads!" night in the sanctuary, do you have to pay $500?
Caller: Well, no, because that would be an official church function.
Me: Okay, I'm just curious: Joining members of your church in holy matrimony in front of witnesses and God isn't an official thing?
Caller: No, that's an extra thing.
Next caller: I draw up the wedding policy at our church. I thought I'd call. I'd be happy to answer any questions.
Me: Okay...I was just wondering -- I mean, it came up: Do you charge your own people to use the building for a wedding?
Caller: Yes. You need to understand, it costs a LOT to run the power, the lights, the maintenance of a building. It's very expensive.
Me: Yeah, I'm sure that's true. So, like, if your youth pastor schedules an event in there, like a lock-in or something, does he pay for it...?
Caller: No. (laughing)
Me: Okay...help me understand...
Caller: Youth ministry is part of the church.
Me: Okay. That's cool. But a wedding ceremony isn't? Even if the people are members for years, and helped pay for the building, and the pastor's been there two months...?
Caller: It's because it's youth ministry.
Me: You know, that's cool, but I'm not even sure that youth ministry is mentioned in the Bible. And weddings have a --
Caller: Yeah, but it's an extra thing. People have to pay for that.
Next caller: I can speak for our church. If we DIDN'T charge, we'd have people lined up, wanting to use the place every Saturday for years.
Me: But if they're people who are members, and paid for the building, and it's theirs, too, shouldn't it be free and celebrated and --
Caller: It would be too crazy if you just let people do that.
Me: But if they paid for it to start with --
Caller: You have to charge a fee to discourage people from using it.
Next caller: I'm in charge of our sound and lights ministry, and it's a big church, and it's a big hassle to have to go in there and do a wedding.
Me: Sure, I understand. If they don't want sound, though, could they just schedule --
Caller: I don't think so. It wouldn't be an official church event.
Me: I don't entirely get that.
Caller: It's for official church stuff.
Me: But they're part of the official church...?
Me: But their stuff isn't official church stuff.
Caller: Yes, that's correct.
Me: Okay! Thanks.
Caller: No problem.
Me: Okee-doke. Here's a song from Jeremy Camp...