Saturday, June 22, 2019: “A Strategic Insight” The Church and Their Edifice Complex. You already know the answer to the question – Is the church the building or the people? Of course it is the people. You should also know the answer to this question – Which is more important, our relationship to God or the place where we encounter God? Certainly it is our relationship with God.
This question for some Christians is a little more difficult – If we must choose between our relationship with God whom we do not see and God’s House (a church building where we have encountered God) that we do see, which would we choose? Although that is to many people a crazy question, it is also crazy to think about the number of people who choose the building rather than the relationship.
Church buildings can be things of great beauty and wonder. Appropriately adorned church buildings with various religious symbols – such as a cross – can focus our worship encounters with God. Quality buildings can enhance not only worship, but also discipleship, fellowship, and various ministries.
At the same time, our fantasies about how much building space we need without looking at a 50 to 100 year horizon of the cost of those buildings can refocus congregations from the worship of God to paying for, maintaining, retrofitting, and in some cases abandoning or selling church buildings.
Every dollar spent on buildings, beyond what is essential, is a dollar not directly addressing the mission of God. Every hour spent on figuring out what to do with buildings, we thought when we constructed or purchased them that they would be needed forever, is an hour not spent in discipleship development and missional engagement. For your congregation, how much building space is enough? When you no longer need all the building space you have, how open are you to it being used to enhance ministry? How many hours per week is your building space used? Is that enough hours to justify the costs incurred in the past, present, and future?