Some Thoughts About Having Church Buildings

“Church is not a building.”

–Christians who attend churches where a majority of the budget is spent on buildings.
@FailingPastor

 

The amount of money spent on church buildings is ridiculous. I do believe this is going to come up on Judgment Day.

There is nothing in the Bible about churches having buildings. At the same time, there are plenty of verses talking about not putting our treasure on earth, not seeking material wealth, not getting tied down to earthly things, and the classic passage where the disciples bragged to Jesus about the impressive temple buildings, only to be shot down by Christ.

I won’t say having a church building is a sin, nor that a church should not have a building, but I do hear an awful lot of pride expressed in buildings, the very same buildings that will, like the old temple, be toppled.

I did a wedding at a different church once where they just added a new addition. It was a separate building with a gym and classrooms. They proudly showed me every single room, even though they all looked the same.

When the Grand Tour was over, my tour guide asked me, “I probably shouldn’t have shown you all that! Now you are envious of our building!” This was said with zero hint that they were sorry. It was pride through and through. I said, “No, not really. I think I’ll be ok.”

“You still meeting in the same place?” is a question I get frequently. Without blowing my cover, we don’t have a building. What we do is pathetic in light of what all the cool churches are doing. It has cost us some people.

One family left because the new Vineyard church put in an arcade for the kids. “How come our church doesn’t do anything like that?”

“Because I think that’s stupid” was apparently not the answer they were looking for. They left. Hope their kids had a nice time at the arcade.

There is nothing impressive about our church gathering, and certainly not about the place we gather. I like it that way. Our costs for our building are just about non-existent in our current structure. This setup presents certain problems and inconveniences. But I also know that we can now support missionaries and have a benevolence fund and various other things (including my paycheck) we would not be able to do if we had to dump money into a building.

I will resist the urge to make what we already do the most spiritual thing a church can do. Just as I don’t like it when churches use their buildings to prove their awesomeness, I will not use my lack of a building to prove my awesomeness.

All I’m saying is that church buildings should be examined. We should consider carefully what we’re dumping into externals. You have to to some degree. Life costs money. But do we have to fully embrace cultural standards of comfort, impressiveness, and following the crowd? What percentage of the church’s income goes to buildings as opposed to ministry and missions?

These should be thought about. I will go so far as to say if your church is putting in coffee shops and arcades, you’ve left biblical simplicity and “coming out from among them and being separate.”

But people will disagree and big churches with modern amenities will continue to outdraw my sad little church.

That’s ok. All our stuff will be tested with fire someday and our Judge will let us know how we did. I firmly believe we ought all to minister in light of this coming judgment, have your faith before God, and carry on doing what you believe is right.

If that means having a building; then have a building. If that means not having a building; then don’t have a building. But at least do yourself the favor of thinking about it beforehand.

 

 

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
–1 Corinthians 3:11-15

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