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?

15 comments
  1. Large commercial buildings are a stewardship quandry everywhere. My husband and I recently looked at old school buildings for residency because of space and low purchase cost. It’s the large cost of utilities in these antiquitated structures that are the big turn-off factor. It’s a situation where it takes money to make money. Caring for the needy takes resources. While having a large structure with large land can accomplish quite a bit, this is where we need christian business men and women to step up and sponsor some of these projects. A few Barnabas’s out there?

  2. Since Constantine the church has been seeking legitimacy and validation with all sorts of worldly properties. I cringe when I hear people call auditoriums “sanctuaries”.. and sometimes they even use the “holy” adjective with it 🙁

    Christianity is not Judaism.. are bodies are the temples of God’s Spirit.. I sometimes wish that Christians would act like they believe it.

    [here endeth the rant]
    .-= Kansas Bob´s last blog ..Happy Pi Day =-.

    1. @Kansas Bob, as usual it seems like I agree with you on this one Bob! The earliest churches were the homes of the faithful, the earliest form of the mass was practiced at a dinner table.

      The money of the Church should be flowing one way, from those who can spare it to those who need it. When money is just pooling up in the hands of rich churches in rich areas, it is decidedly un-Christian.

      1. @Kansas Bob, Nope. Churches in Japan are poor. The church I’m attending right now met on the first floor of the pastor’s house for about 10 years. We just got a new building a couple of months ago. It’s an old real estate agent’s office building. Definitely not something you could call ornate. The big fancy churches here are cults (LDS, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Int’l Church of Christ).
        .-= Casey´s last blog ..Anthropic global warming theory = junk science =-.

  3. No matter how beautiful the building, no matter how ornate the crucifix or stained glass windows or whatnot, it can never compete with the beauty of Christ’s message. And honestly, why even try? I’m not exactly the brightest Biblical scholar out there, but wasn’t there some sort of commandment against idolatry or something?
    .-= Guy Incognito´s last blog ..10,000 Maniacs =-.

    1. @Guy Incognito, Very true! And yes… there is, and for some congregations the building has become an idol.

      I don’t want to come off against buildings entirely as those buildings can be legitimate ministry tools, but I think some churches would be better off not having a building and either rent or go with a cell church model.

      1. @Shane Vander Hart, I concur, and I think to some extent I was venting my frustration with the ornateness and decadence of Catholic churches, which is much more problematic than those of Protestants.

        I visited Toledo once and I was astonished at sheer opulence of the cathedrals there. I am all in favor of preserving the great artwork of El Greco and everything, but all those giant solid gold crucifixes are Church property and as such they ought to be melted down and used to feed the poor, simple as that.

        I have always admired the general simplicity of Protestantism, but I feel like with the megachurch movement there is the beginning of a drift towards that sort of decadence in Portestantism as well.
        .-= Guy Incognito´s last blog ..10,000 Maniacs =-.

  4. I spent some time in Thailand when I gradtuated from high-school. Like most Asian clutures, their temples are elaborate. The gold and ornate buildings stick out like a Lamborghini in Harlem! The wealth of the people is poured into the structures of worship. Though they are truly working each day for that night’s meal, they are so eager to please their gods, that these places of worship consume the funds they don’t even have to live on. As a Christian, this is sad to see them pouring their finances into false religion in order to please a dead god even if it means they don’t eat that night. However, the dedication to their religion is something to be comended. I suppose what I am saying is that the building itself should reflect the hearts of those inside. We don’t, by any means, need a flashy church building to serve our Master, and, it is, to me, a turn-off when looking for a church. However, if a church can grow in ministry because the people are willing to spend millions, then Praise the Lord for it! We ought to give more than we do as Christian Americans. The majority should go toward evangelizing; ie: the Great Commission, but any leftovers that can fund a nicer building might just say more about how much we glorify Him.

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