Money in Buildings or People?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, Mar 5, 2002.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Why, Why, Why Do We . . . build such huge and lavish buildings, and invest so little in our people--not on programs or sermons that are directed at them and supposedly for them, but directly in them? Are not WE the temple of God?

    In forgetting this, are we not, in the words of Jeremiah, "grinding the face of the poor"?

    LP asked this question and I pass it on to you. Why?
     
  2. Bro. Curtis

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    Our "Lavish Building" is a warehouse we rent. We are in the process of putting up a building, but the funds have all been donated. Our incoming money supports our missions in Chile, Yucatan, & French New Giniue(sp). We view this as "church planting".
     
  3. Ernie Brazee

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    I agree wiht LP. Some Baptist church buildings are merely a monument to man. "Look what I have built" We need a nice clean place to meet, a place where visitors will feel comfortable attending. Visitors shy away from run down, shoddy looking buildings. Also when soul winning they may be turned off if someone from that run down facility tries to approach them.

    ernie
     
  4. Chet

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    In nearly most cases we waste our money! Mr. Curtis I do see some exceptions, but very, very little. Even when the funds have been donated, there seems to be the desire to use that money unwisely, for a steeple ect... I have seen some churches use buildings that are not extravagant, they are simple metal buildings that can be used for more than one purpose.

    But for the most part, this is one of my biggest heart breaks. You can’t drive anywhere and not see fancy - wancy big steeple, bell ringing churches on every corner. You walk in and some are like a cathedral with the fancy glass, specially extravagant architectural ect...
    And I don’t remember Paul writing to any local church about their building program! Any church member can see a print out of the incoming and outgoing financial report. Some times I ask if I can view a copy of this when I am visiting, and its nearly the same report. LP said it well in the other thread, we should invest in people. We should invest in discipleship, teaching material, and Bibles. We put more into our buildings than we do in the giving of Bibles! When someone gets saved they get baptized and the church will give them a brand new pink or blue pew Bible that cost $3.95 when you buy in bulk. Yet how much are we willing to put into material things, for our building? I say spend some money on them, buy them a nice leather Bible (a Ryrie NIV of course :D ) with a packet of books and study guides. And lets go without the new carpet. And in case anyone wonders, I budget my giving so less ( a lot less) goes to ministries - churches and more goes to CBD for my giving books-bibles for the people I witness to and disciple.
     
  5. LP

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    What Chet is saying gives rise to a strong "Amen" within my spirit. This, too, has been one of my biggest griefs. Is it not odd that our biggest griefs in life can come from the place from which there should be none, the church? Father, help us respond as Christ would, and think through this issue according to your Word.

    Foremost, we need to respond so as to become better, not bitter. There IS suffering involved with going to church, sometimes, and we need to cooperate with God in it so as to be benefited by it and have Christ formed in us more.

    But also, how do we counter this building-mania theologically?

    One approach is to advocate for house churches. Though that has a lot of merit, it oft does not get to the heart and motives of people who are involved in the matter. Too, house churches in the NT were often BIG houses. Not too many of those are in our US cultures, or at least not in our congregations. So maybe we do need some type of larger building to meet in.

    So, how, then, do we counter the buidling-mainia, theologically speaking? By THE BIG picture. Most have never heard the teaching that follows, and I believe this was the wisdom of God given me a few years ago as I struggled with this issue:

    [ March 05, 2002, 10:52 AM: Message edited by: LP ]
     
  6. HeDied4U

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    I believe a balance should be struck between the two. Yes, a building is needed so believers can gather together and worship, but it doesn't need to a cathedral (does it?). Ernie said it best when he said that some Baptist churches (or other denominational churches for that matter) are a monument to man.

    Yes, a run-down building may "turn" people away, but in my experience, a "cathedral" would do just the same. All that says to me is "Look at us, look at us. See our beautiful building. See how much money we have!!" That turns me off in a heartbeat.

    Chet hit it right on the head. Churches need to equip new believers with the tools and resources that will help them grow in their new walk. Our church does this to an extent (new study Bible), but it could go further, like give some study materials. Think I'll bring it up to our pastor Sunday, and see what he thinks of thie idea.

    I know that this next statement is a little off topic, but it is sort of related, so I'll say it anyway. Why is that in a good number of "mega churches" (mostly in affluent (i.e., "white") neighborhoods) seem to be nothing more than a country club, whose members have a lot of money? God forbid a "poor" person show up there, or a person of a "lower station" in life. The members will just look down their noses at them, and treat them like dirt. Now I'm sure that this isn't the case in every mega-church, but it's been my experience in two that I've visited. Very little love evidenced there, but plenty of "material" wealth in evidence.

    Okay, I've had my rant/rave. I feel much better now. :D

    God Bless!!!

    Adam :cool:
     
  7. just-want-peace

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    Reminds me of a quip I heard once!

    Two members of a mega-church were walking down the street one day and one of them looked at the beautiful temple-like cathedral they owned.
    The first stated, "No longer do we have to say 'Silver and gold have I none--' "
    The other thought a moment and replied, "True, but neither can we now say 'In the name of Jesus, get up and walk!' "
     
  8. Aaron

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    James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

    If the buildings some erect are toward this end, then how can we gainsay their right? By faith George Muller built a facility with the capacity to house 1000 orphans. And certainly their was a chapel in it.
     
  9. Karen

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    Chet,
    I guess this is another of those 2 Baptists, 3 opinions issues. I am very well acquainted with the part of the country you are from and I visit it as often as I can. Especially fond of a certain meat market in downtown Washington. I LOVE to go to Hermann! It is such a beautiful sight coming over the hills and seeing Missouri River German towns. They are full of church spires extending up to Heaven. Wherever you look in these towns you have a visual reminder to look up.
    My ancestors and others I have studied helped build these churches 100-200 years ago, not because of a desire for ostentation but because of a desire to honor God with their best.

    What we do, of course, can change in different times and places. Where I live the Baptist churches do look more like warehouses. I appreciate the thriftiness behind it, but beauty is one tiny way of worshipping God.

    I am also very fond of the bell-ringing. Baptists perhaps underemphasize a variety of ways to worship God. I can still hear the bells in my MO youth calling people to worship. Sadly and thriftily missing in OK.

    Karen
     
  10. Chet

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    Karen

    Hi! [​IMG] Yes indeed Hermann is a neat little town, my wife and I visit it often. Though we do try to avoid it like the plague during the month of October, as it is wine country. And oh how you mention the Missouri river, this river will always be a place of wonderful memory’s for me as my father and I would go cat-fishing nearly every week-end when I was a kid. You might be interested to know they now have a new trail in Washington that goes along the bank of the river, such beauty. Glad you mentioned your acquaintance with my neck of the woods. [​IMG]

    I believe that perhaps people have desired to honor God with their best but it is a greatly miss-placed honor. It saddens my heart to have to look up at the height of a building, and see its extravagance. And I base this more on the desire and love for evangelism and discipleship and the NT idea of what the body of Christ is about. Its not in a building, or in how much you can put into it. Its about people, and our service to them (Rom 12) Paul never spoke of pleasing God, or honoring Him with the material things of this world. In fact, Karen, right in a little town close to where you mentioned, there is the quest for a “sizable” Baptist Church building Vs the Catholic Church building. I am sad to see the Baptist building won. I know for a fact that they received a very large sum of money from an inheritance, and they blew it on the building. :( Now they are struggling to meet budget. I don’t know that a beautiful building is any way to worship God. Jesus said that He desires us to worship Him in Truth and Spirit not with brick and martyr. I find the most beautiful thing in the world is to see a person who is lost realize their sinful condition and see that they need a savior. And while I am sure I will “get it” for this, I don’t see people getting saved in alter calls! Or because they were attracted to the sound of the bell! Or liked the size of the steeple. People are drawn to Christ by our witness, our character, our love and our giving to them. Ultimately of course by the gospel. I find myself witnessing to people explaining doctrines and theology because they tried to find that in Church but no-one took the time to explain them or didn’t even know them to begin with. They sould at least point them to where the answers are. But hey, they got a nice building right? One of my greatest joys is to be able to give a book to someone and see them grow spiritually. See their eyes glisten as they hear
    the truth as it sets them free. A few months ago I gave a new black leather bound Bible to a man who had nothing but the living translation in paper back. Oh the tears that flowed as the overwhelming joy entered, he had a new Bible. Not a new carpet, new pew, new wooden cross to look at, a new robe for the choir, another new suit or dress to wear on Sunday so we can look more spiritual. He got a Bible. How many Bibles could we buy if we decided we don’t need the other things? I read LP statistics, and this should certainly break our hearts. I am convinced we waste more money on worthless things that just won’t matter when its all said and done.

    I remember (going by memory here) the end of Schindler’s List, the movie. He saved so many Jews, yet he cried, how many more if he had just sold his watch, his ring, his suit ect... (can’t remember it very well). How much more could we do with proper stewardship, I would be ashamed to know.

    God Bless
     
  11. javalady

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    I have been troubled by this for a long while. While I think a country chapel (the style of the 17-1800's) is darling, I am not convinced that a building is necessary for the work of the Church.
    We are at present a house church, and do not wish to grow big (even if we had to move into a bigger facility to house a few families). Ideally, church elders should be raising up more church elders, so when the group gets so you don't know everyone by 1st name & have at least some fellowship with him, that it's time to make a 2nd fellowship.
    This gives intimacy, a greater chance for body ministry, personal discipleship, and the like.
    A problem with many of the modern house churches at present is they tend to emphasize fellowship more than doctrinal & practical instruction in the Word; and they tend to be self-centered, rather than reaching out.
    When a church has a building, they should use it thoroughly. Keeping a food pantry for the needy of the community (not just the church family), making it a meeting place for home school (Christian) groups, voting, etc. is one way to well-use a building to the glory of God.
    Whether in a "church building" or a home, a church must maintain the basics: worship, study of the Word, discipling, the Lord's supper & fellowship. To give opulent sums to a crystal chandelier, and comparitively little to the widows and orphans is a shame to the name of Christ! [I've been in such "churches".]
    Grace Community Church (J. MacArthur's church) supports widows so they do not have to return to work. In this way women who are widows (including victims of unjust divorce) are able to stay home & raise their children for Christ, rather than having to go to work & put the kids in daycare. It's wonderful! And Scriptural.
    There's so much Christians can do for the glory of God with our money! I don't think we've scratched the surface yet.
     
  12. LP

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    That is truly encouraging to hear.
    I praise our Lord for that.

    [ March 05, 2002, 11:46 PM: Message edited by: LP ]
     
  13. Bro. Curtis

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    I think I'm beginning to see what other more mature Christians are saying in this thread. I think the whole problem lies in our vain attempts to impress God, when we have some pretty stiff competition with his Son, don't we ? Money just is not spent prayerfully, but with our own limited understanding. I don't think most churches set out to outdo each other with Taj-Mahal types of palaces, but that is what it's become. I apologize to LP for misunderstanding what was said.
     
  14. Dr. Bob

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    Most folks fail to realize the lofty arched ceilings that drift into darkness, softened by the stain glass - typical of a cathedral - is really the result of neo-platonism and nothing to do with the New Testament church.

    The more I see of wasted billions in brick and steel and padded pews, the more I feel for the billions of souls in the world that have never even heard the name of Jesus.

    God forgive.
     
  15. just-want-peace

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    Now this is the TRUE church!!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    I think one thing people overlook about large churches is their possibilities. A small church cannot afford to support widows like MacArthur's church. I daresay a house church as someone described above will never be able to do that simply because they cannot pool enough resources. As pastor of a small church, I know the huge limitations that we have. We cannot even afford to do a community mailing to advertise a special service or occasion because we simply do not have the money to do so. We cannot afford a van for transporting people to church. How I wish we were big enough to be able to do some of these things. There is strength in pooled resources.

    I think we should be careful of falling into the trap of condemning nice buildings and places of worship. After all, wasn't Solomon's temple a pretty nice one? And won't the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem be pretty nice? There is nothing wrong with that. We need balance however. Nice buildings to the exclusion of mission minded outreach is a problem.
     
  17. Chet

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    Well Pastor Larry I disagree.

    Maybe we need to define large. Large in the sense of extravagance, or large in the way a business owner has a cost efficient building made for production purposes. And even then I am not sure. The membership is then under an obligation to pay off the note, or come up with the amount to pay off the building expense. And then for what? To meet for a couple of hours on Sunday and for an hour or so on Wednesday? I guess I can certainly understand that a congregation may have high hopes of using the facilities for special events, or that it would grow. But lets face it, it may not grow. You know, my last Pastor held a business meeting pertaining to the place we would all worship. It seemed to me more like my sales meetings that I must attend. Go out and get them in, so we can pay for this stuff!

    Close to where I live there is a fairly large Baptist building that is made of metal but it
    looks decent. They use it for a school also. That I also can understand. But there is not a
    steeple ect... In fact no pews either, they set up chairs for each service. The question is,
    in the age of stewardship that we live in now, what is the best way to spend our dollars? As you said, there is strength in numbers. But then why blow it on a building?

    I also believe that in the Old Testament God richly blessed the nation of Israel as a witness
    to the surrounding heathen nations to show the prosperity that the God of Israel bestowed upon them. We can’t equate that with the NT church that is spoken of so plainly in the writings of Luke, Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude. Nothing in there about a building fund, they did meet in homes and they also evangelized just fine from them.

    God Bless

    [ March 06, 2002, 06:25 PM: Message edited by: Chet ]
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    I have no problem with multi-purpose buidings. In fact, if I were building one it would probably be that. BUt my point was more about the size of churches peoplewise. More people can do more things, stress less people out, equip more people for ministry and service, and have more financial resources for the work of ministry. Large numbers of people of necessity requires large buildings. But that is a side issue to me.
     
  19. HankD

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    I'm not sure how this applies or if I will even get the story 100% correct but I think you will get the drift.

    Several years ago a missionary to India spoke at the church we were attending.
    He told us this story:

    While out on the road looking for opportunities from the Lord he came upon a city in which a Hindu temple was being built,

    He was struck by the beauty and opulence of the building. Even more so when he saw the poverty of those who were building it. He talked to one of those who were coming to contribute to the temple for the final touch, a shrine of gold to house the image.

    He said he asked the man why they who were so poor gave so much and lavished such sacrifices toward the building of this beautiful temple.

    The Hindi man said to the missionary "But sir, this is for our god!".

    HankD
     
  20. just-want-peace

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    And may it so be with each of us; regardless of the appearance to the world!!!

    [ March 07, 2002, 04:15 PM: Message edited by: just-want-peace ]
     

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