A vision for a needed or wanted new or retrofitted building is seldom, if ever, a missional vision that is pulling the congregation forward. Buildings are tools that flow out of vision.
Buildings are not usually missional. There may be a few exceptions—just not as many exceptions as people who like new or retrofitted buildings think there are.
Many church leaders—both clergy and laity—believe one of the easiest ways to motivate congregations is to put a building project before them. Challenge people to raise money. Urge people to pray for the building project. I encounter pastors who think every church ought always to have debt because servicing debt kept tithes and offerings higher.
Once I was visiting a church with a potential consultant to raise funds for a new education and fellowship building. It was needed. The current building had been in such disrepair for many years that it needed to be torn down and replaced. The space was essential for both current and potential programs.
Much of the dialogue was about square footage, technology, and décor. It was obvious the people at the gathering were not getting a vision for the building. Those trying to sell it to them were selling a facility and not a vision.
The pastor’s first grandchild was at the meeting in the arms of her mother. Since the new building space was to be primarily for education and fellowship programs. I suggested we visualize the pastor’s grandchild as a maturing Christian growing partially through the spiritual formation that could happen in this new building. Participants got it and began to talk about other people who would be impacted, and what form that impact might take.
The building is not the vision. Transformed lives is the vision.
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