More on Churches and Buildings

Some great comments on the last post have generated more thoughts.

Laurie, you DO make sense. Church buildings are an UnLearning issue. It is hard, and we are truly at a loss of how to operate and relate to THE church when the building isn’t there.

Monica, thanks for your thoughts too. First, this posting is meant to be an extreme statement to get us thinking, not a final and complete declaration. I would point back to Laurie’s comments though. Thinking outside the building, outside this church-box, is a hard adjustment. There are good uses and purposes of a building, but I’d challenge us to be more creative in how we meet those space needs.

Do we need to own buildings to house our presence? Can we rent, share, multi-use facilities? Cooperate with other, even non-church, organizations? There are many examples of this already. Unfortunately it is not the norm, and it is often perceived as a sign of weakness that a church borrows, rents or shares space.

Buildings tend to isolate us and separate the many Bodies of Christ from one another. We each need the ministry going on in our church. Ultimately I like the idea that we learn to head to people rather than a place when we have needs. After all, people, not places, will be how God acts sooner or later.

And face it, if I really want to go to a quiet place to meditate, I probably wouldn’t head to the kind of place we would be able to afford to do it, but would go to God’s great sanctuary out-of-doors, or to the Basilica, or maybe on the sidewalk outside our local police precinct, or the emergency entrance of HCMC anyway…

Lots of stuff to think about. Let’s be creative.

May churches build people always, and buildings when we must.


11 responses to “More on Churches and Buildings

  1. I didn’t think it was a declaration I was just giving my reason why I think it works for some Churches. Older established neighborhoods have many of them, what are we to do with those buildings, tear them down? No, other people come in and rent them and do good in the World with them. That being said, I don’t think that every church has to have a bldg, it is always a huge expense and I would rather the money given to the Church fund projects to help people and the environment around us than go toward a bldg to hangout in on Sundays.
    That being said, I see Laurie’s point and I hear you as to reason’s for not having a Church. I said it before, community is where you are. That is why it is important to have small groups so that we don’t have to have a building to get together in. Maybe I am going down the wrong path.

  2. You’re tracking just fine. One thing is for sure. The trend won’t change overnight. And it would be equally wreckless for churches to just get rid of buildings they already have. There will always be lots of church buildings to ease a transition.

    “If” there were to be a transition.

  3. I got an unsettled feeling today thinking about how much stuff we’ve all accumulated… cars, lawn mowers, snow blowers, boats, etc. We’ve got a lot of multi-car families, mine included. Was thinking how we could do just as much by sharing at least some of the resources. So, the fact that this “conversation” has gone this way is appropriate.

    Certainly there’s a lot of “stuff” out there, including churches, much of which is underutilized. Do I think it is wrong to have some stuff, including four walls and a roof on a church? Nope. Not if it’s used right. And there are plenty of wonderful meetings, worship services, etc. that take place within churches. For me, it’s really about what is valued at the church and that appearances and grandeur not get in the way of the real message. Heck, I’d go to a log cabin church built with sticks and mud if the message and community fit (hoping to do that someday!). It’s just so easy for us to let the building and its upkeep get in the way of the important stuff. I think we all agree on this, we’re just hashing it our in own way.

  4. I hear you, it really is about the message, also about the friendships that you make. That is why I started going to JW, we were looking for a new Church because ours wasn’t fullfilling our needs and we didn’t see that changing. So I started searching and a co-worker mentioned Jacob’s Well so I got online and checked out the site, watched a few sermons and decided to visit. It really was all about the message and the community not about the place or building. Our last church had a building and it was causing some huge financial strains on the church which then caused a rift because some did not think we should have a building and others did so it became a sore subject which I think is still a sore subject and will continue to be.

  5. Very interesting…
    As a 1 and 1/2 year old community, we have financial strains too. If we had a building on top of it all – well, some things would be a lot easier, but I can imagine the pressure it would put on us.

  6. I hear you. In the end not only did we pull away from the Church but others have as well because the powers that be decided to stop donating to the missionaries that we were supporting. I felt that was a really bad position to take because they are out there doing God’s work and we were supporting them and then pulled that money away because we overspent here on buildings and salaries etc…I didn’t think that was a fair decision so a group of us got together and pulled our money away from the Church and Sponsored those people directly. some agreed with us and some didn’t but that is the rift that happened there.

  7. It is hard being a church together. There are many needs and many ideas. That is why a clear and oft repeated vision is so important.
    Here is my take on what it requires for us to be a ‘particular body of Christ’ together, i.e. ‘a church.’ We have to make decisions together, led by the vision and called leadership of the congregation.
    Each of those words is used very deliberately. Being church means signing on to a journey together that we usually agree with, and sometimes don’t. Churches, and our investment in them, should always be about God’s purposes for the church, not our preferences for the church. That’s hard. Now, I’m not saying that what you did is wrong, but it is the place where we have to decide what our relationship with the church will be. It is always an option to pull out of a particular body because you don’t agree with the vision or the implementation of it. But if we choose to stay, I believe it is our job to support the direction chosen, and to use constructive, loving, internal ways to help the congregation discern its path. Even when we disagree.
    Let’s talk about this more.

  8. You know, I’ve struggled with the “church building” thing for awhile. It seems like such a waste of resources sometimes to spend $4000 a month on heating and electricity, when that money could be used for so much MORE in the world and could maybe accomplish more … but what I’m starting to learn is that spending money on a building is a good investment if the people that meet in that building are going out and serving from there. If people come in and leave and never affect the world, it’s one thing, but if a community of people pay to heat a building (it’s MN after all) but they each go out and use that community to further God’s kingdom… well, what I’m saying I guess is that it’s tough to put a price on people.
    That being said – one of the things I love most about JW is it’s ability to be mobile. The first JW service I ever attended was at Minnehaha Falls and as someone who often worships in the creation cathedral, I really loved it. I love that one weekend you could be at the Varsity Theater in downtown Minneapolis, and the next week at a park in Uptown and the next at a school in Nokomis. It’s amazing. By the way – have you ever thought of the Varsity? I LOVE it there.
    Ok, obviously I am taking a break from the working and did it by babbling on here… but thems my thoughts.

  9. Greg,
    I agree that if you stay at a Church you have to share their vision, obviously I didn’t stay there and that was one of several reasons.

    to your comment about ” God’s purposes for the church, not our preferences for the church”. Where is that line and who convey’s God’s purpose. I think people have done great things because they heard from God that they needed to do it and then people have done horrible things because they heard from God that they should do it. Sometimes we hear what we want to hear not what we need to hear and that leads me to not trust anyone to tell me what God said to them.

  10. I agree, buildings do tend to isolate us. Being part of a community tend to liberate and connect us. I am less attracted to buildings and more attracted to community.

  11. Pingback: ‘Building a church’ or ‘A church building’? « Precarious Pastor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s