Businesses have no responsibility whatsoever to support local churches, although many do. It would be foolish to ignore the local churches because many members of nearby congregations might be clients, particularly of retailers. While relationships might not be as obvious in city core environments, small town and rural businesses are seen to be more engaged in the community.
On the other hand many organizations such as Rotary, Civitan, Lions, Elks, and a range of other community service clubs, comprised mainly of business people, raise money for many local charities, and churches can fall within the scope of these groups, especially if the roof has collapsed or the food bank is empty.
Individual businesses may well support a particular church, especially if the owner is a member, but a company needs to be conscious of potential difficulties if the community is diverse and the congregation is controversial. Others, and particularly companies with public service affiliation may choose to adopt a Separation of Church and State policy that might preclude any association at all.
Astute business people also recognize relatively cheap advertising opportunities, so many might donate product as door prizes to various church events; some might buy space in programs for choir concerts and the like; and some may allow posters to be displayed in store front windows. Some grocery stores might give a congregation a volume discount from collecting everyone’s purchase receipts. Despite the general willingness displayed, all of these activities fall within the category of good will, and represent one time intersections, without committing the business community to anything.
But there’s another side to this question, and that is “what is the responsibility of the church to support local business?” Few people consider this reciprocally. Most towns have local business associations: how many churches join? Many business communities have special events like Midnight Madness. How many churches open their doors so the crowds can use the washrooms or just sit in the pews to take a time out? How many congregations open their doors or provide hot drinks to folks gathered outside for the annual Santa Claus Parade organized by the business community. How many churches offer space to a small company that’s had a fire and needs to store some stuff for a few days. How many offer their church hall to a small company that needs to bring it’s people together for an emergency meeting when it can’t afford to rent a room at the local hotel or conference center? How many enter agreements with the local radio station, allowing them to lodge transmitter in the steeple so the station doesn’t have to build an eyesore tower in the neighborhood?
We tend to see this as a one way street, business supporting the church, but they’re really partners in serving the communities needs. Understanding this puts a whole new spin on the church simply being the recipient of the community’s largess.