I recently learned that a more affluent church I know of may acquire numerous acres of land with current structures on the property that would provide thousands of usable square footage. The cost of purchasing the land (at a discount) and preparing the buildings for commercial use (it is currently a private residence) will be less than the $6-7 million dollars. Less than they planned to spend building their own building on land that they already have. That, on the surface, seems like a good stewardship argument.
This property is breathtaking. The buildings are extremely elaborate, I was taken aback when I attended a meeting there once. In explaining how this property would be used; one idea is to bring kids from a local inner-city ministry to do activities there. Having worked with high-risk youth for many years, especially those who are in poverty, I wonder if that may do more harm than good. Will it reinforce in their minds what has been ingrained in our society that success equals a huge income? Will it make them feel crappy about what they don’t have? I have found that many churches (especially in more affluent areas) are not very class sensitive.
Also, it is explained, that the property would have staff for maintenance and management. They say it will open for the community and non-profit ministries, but that the property staff would be funded by rentals at the property. Huh? Either building reservations won’t be offered free for community groups and ministries or it will be rented so much it really isn’t much availability for these groups.
Then when we are in the midst of a recession. Non-profit groups working with those in poverty have taken a hit in private donations. There are many people in need with thousands who are unemployed. There is still a huge need for church plants in poorer parts of town (you know where it isn’t so sexy to plant a church). It makes me wonder, is this a good use of $6-7 million dollars or so?
Then we have the mindset of building buildings so that people can come to you rather than you go to them. I can understand churches that build out of necessity; especially if they’ve planted churches and have invested in the community. I can’t say that is necessarily true with the church that inspired this post.
What say you?