To Be or Not to Be
by Gerald Shuler
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To be or not to be... that is certainly NOT an easy question! I have a renewed respect for Shakespeare’s genius since recently trying to battle my own version of that age-old querry. The quandry being faced by this newspaper, from a business sense, appears simple. Should we become a “for profit” corporation or not? Deceptively obvious! Business are run to make money so we, of course, should incorporate. Case closed. But then...
The sole purpose of this newspaper is to minister Christ’s love by giving all churches an open and neutral platform from which to reach out to the community. As a ministry, this newspaper could fund its projects through tax deductible contributions rather than selling advertising. After all, the paper wasn’t established to make anyone rich. So, that being the truth, we would need to be a “non-profit” structure, Right?
Both answers make perfect sense for their own reasons.
Advantages to being Non-Profit:
Contributions would come much more easily. People donate to good causes and, no matter how you look at it, reaching out to a hurting community IS a good cause.
I can envision this newspaper being a part of tearing down barriers that have been fortified and RE-fortified for far too many years in the churches. People of all races, all skin colors, all social structures would finally have a place to express how they feel, how they think, how they hurt. That would definitely be a worthwhile ministry.
Another benefit to the non-profit mentality is that people could VOLUNTEER to help get the newspaper out. That is a need we are already facing. Money isn’t falling from the sky to pay for people to do what needs done. What IS getting done is because of the wonderful people that have offered to help organize, distribute, sell ads and do all the other things that make a Christian newspaper worth reading.
If the previous is true (and it is) then a non-profit structure would allow us to give the people and businesses that donate time, material or money a well deserved tax break for their donations.
Advantages to being a “For Profit” corporation:
This list, as far as my limited business knowledge goes, is uncomfortably short. Of course, the leagal protections are to be considered. In the almost certain event that I offend someone with what I write or report, legal protection is a comfort. But, as a CHRISTIAN publication my strength is in the Lord and not in the legal system as such. But there IS one benefit to the “for profit” sturcture that strongly appeals to me. If we are not a tax free ministry then the government can never complain about what or who we choose to support, whether it be for church OR politics. That is an extreme advantage when you consider what our mission entails.We are a sounding board for the church but we are not a church. Christian ministers can speak their minds in THIS publication without fear of having their tax-free standing scrutinized. As a corporation there would be no “separation of church and state” (a phrase that tends to rile my blood anyway, since this nation was founded on Christian ethics and morals but is now drifting toward UNchristian leagl precedences, like letting a girl starve to death rather than taking a stand of compassion.)
So, to be or not to be, what’s a newspaper to do?
Times of Praise is going to file as a corporation. Yes, it has some painful drawback. Fewer businesses will be inclined to give donations to a ministry that can’t offer a tax deductible status. The cost of publishing will increase substantially simply because of taxes, employee legalities, etc. But we are going forward a corporation anyway. The deciding factor wasn’t money. Our trust is in God to supply finances. No, the deciding factor was in the realization that, if times get harder for the Christian body, then we will not be tempted to buckle to what the government tells us to say for fear of losing a tax exempt status. We are going to minister the hard way... the way Jesus taught in His own examples. We will speak the truth no matter what opposition may form in the future. We will “render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasor’s and unto God that which is God’s.”
And all we ask of you, the reader, is to hear what is being said in these pages. Follow your heart and become a servant to all.
That is what Jesus did.
That is what we have chosen to do.
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I know how hard this decision has been for you, but as long as you feel it is the direction that God is leading you...no matter what happens...everything is meant to be. So I say...TO BE : )