Tell Your Churches to Stop Spending Money on Bigger Buildings

In western church culture, particularly in the US, the trend has been growing for over the last couple of decades for churches to use their collection money to expand and grow to a larger size. Though I ask of you to tell your churches to stop spending money on bigger buildings, it goes far beyond that. It’s also to tell them to stop spending on all the colorful bright lights, loud sound systems, fancy camera equipment and expensive musical instruments. If you didn’t read my first two sentences of this post, you’d think I was talking about a rock concert. But there’s an important lesson behind the title of this message, and it’s the issue of what God wants His collection money spent on. I’m going to show you what scripture seems to indicate to us.

The needs of others in the church

First, let’s observe the example of the first people converted to Christianity in Acts 2. After heeding the command of Apostle Peter to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, they did something really remarkable. In verse 45 it states, “45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” Now I know it doesn’t quite state they had an official local body of Christ set up with an overseer, deacons, and etc, but, they were essentially the first people assembling as Christians. So I would suggest to you in their example, one thing God wants His collection money spent on, is the needs of our fellow members of the Body of Christ. Maybe obviously some members of local assemblies have more financial means to take care of their needs more than others, but perhaps some of the collection money can be used you on the neediest within the assembly.

Payment to the leaders in the church

1 Timothy 5:17-18 it states, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” The Greek Words for honor and wages both mention payment in their meaning. While some leaders in the church unfortunately abuse this teaching with receiving excessive wealth from their churches, it’s important for those who preach and teach the Word to be given payment for fulfilling this duty that needs to be done by someone within our assemblies. But let’s always remember to take very special note of these two verses about the overseer of a church. 1 Timothy 3:2 states, “2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. Titus 1:7 states, “7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,”

Money for the poor

1 Corinthians 16:1-3 states, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 3 When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem;” These verses are where our faith typically derives the reasoning for collection when the body of Christ assembles together. It was something the Corinth church did, the churches in Galatia did, and perhaps presumably other churches as well. But there’s something very interesting about the Greek word that translates to collection.

The word is logeia, and according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon it means, “a collection, of money gathered for the relief of the poor”. Maybe instead of all the video screens, cool special effects, and etc. you may see in mostly larger churches, that money can be given to help the homeless, or those on welfare or food stamps. What a noble message that would send to the world about the Christian church, if we used God’s money the way He wanted us to. Perhaps that would inspire unbelievers to become saved more than the biggest rock concert could any day.

Peace to all those who are in Christ

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38 thoughts on “Tell Your Churches to Stop Spending Money on Bigger Buildings

  1. I often wonder about how much money is spent on building and maintaining huge church buildings. It seems like such a waste, because most of those buildings are only used a couple hours on Sunday and maybe Wednesday.

    • Hi Lynn. Thank you for your comment, and that’s an excellent observation. I wonder that myself too. I would hope they would be used everyday for some kind of good.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  2. Great post
    We really do don’t have an idea as to what God would have us to do. We’re just so wrapped up with our own agendas instead of being focus on what God is doing.

    • Hi Desiray. Thank you for your comment. Yes, we certainly have a tendency as humans to center our focus on ourselves in going about our faith sometimes. Hopefully we can all constantly remind ourselves to make sure we’re doing the things that God would desire of us.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

    • Hi Bambi. Thank you for your comment. Yes, I hope that’s the case with a majority of megachurches, that they’re hearing the Word. I have concerns with some megachurches that seem to primarily teach messages of self-gratification vs God-glorification for the sake of attracting a larger crowd and more wealth for the leaders in the church. But hopefully wherever one goes, whether it’s a small or large church, they’re making sure they’re hearing the message of the Word of God, and the church is living out that message in doing their best to use their finances according to God’s Word.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  3. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the spirit of your post, I do think there’s a happy medium. Even smaller churches must, after all, at least maintain the buildings in which they’re housed. I work for a medium-sized church: our auditorium seats about 300, and we have three gatherings each Sunday. We recently renovated a portion of our building, and completed construction on a previously unfinished space, into order to accommodate our growing youth ministries. Because our church has been experiencing modest growth, our existing facilities for student ministries were downright cramped and no longer adequate for our legitimate needs. However, our growth has been organic — steady, but gradual. And our renovations were by no means lavish, but simply meant to address real needs. After all, if our church is giving more people what they need — if it is nourishing them spiritually — then surely we want to accommodate them in a safe and comfortable space. By the same token, the equipment in our main auditorium (sound, lights, video, etc.) mostly dates to the 90s, and eventually it will break down and need to be replaced. In fact, if at all possible (and for obvious reasons), we’ll try to replace it before it breaks down. Yes, we do employ video screens, we do present contemporary worship music piped through a PA system, and we do employ modest stage lighting. But none of this takes primacy over the messages being preached, nor over the fellowship being fostered. The word “Community” is in the very name of our church, and we take that word seriously. For example, we offer one of the largest ESOL programs in our region, and the only one which is entirely free (including free child care). We host two substance abuse recovery meetings each week. We sponsor a thriving prison ministry; offer space to a growing Hispanic church each week; provide a “grace fund” for those in genuine need; work in partnership with our local food banks; etc. I think we achieve a very solid balance, in other words, even if I do say so myself. None of which is to negate your point (especially with regard to mega-churches!), just to emphasize that it is possible to strike a middle ground which allows for church growth as well as service to the community. Thank you for posting!

    • Hi John. Thank you for your comment. I think it’s wonderful that your local assembly does all of those things. It touches my heart to hear of that much good being done as was intended.

      To your point on a healthy balance, perhaps that’s a possibility. If the funding some churches use for production and expansion is not done at the cost of what I suggest are maybe the main church money priorities in scripture such as helping the needy, the poor, and paying the leaders of church, then that’s good.

      I always find it interesting that we find the early assembly of Christians were held in people’s houses. They appeared to just make music with only their voices. It’s like there was a certain modesty reflected in those earlier times, that seems at times to contrast with the pursuit of extravagance we sometimes see within church culture (particularly megachurches) and culture in general. It’s wonder to me if that causes us to lose something special in our faith. Though of course a vast majority of churches are small to medium sized from what I can recall researching.

      But I think if there’s really a need for a larger facility if a local assembly seems to be attracting a lot of people and running out of capacity, there’s a good expense there perhaps in a sense for the need of the assembly. Every church has to make their own choices, and hopefully we’re all making the best choices in reflection of the Word.

      What I hope this post was most of all was a reminder or reflection of what scripture appears to teach on what important things church money should be used for, and making sure we’re doing some exemplification of that, which I’m glad we agree on this post’s overall point. I appreciate you sharing your perspective of someone who works the ins and outs of a church. It was very educational as a person who’s never worked on the inside before.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  4. I consult with various size churches across the country and nearly all of the large (“mega”) churches I see use their facilities much more efficiently than the smaller churches because they have multiple services every weekend. Often three to five services on Saturdays and Sundays. They have many outreaches to the community for benevolence, evangelism, ESL, feeding the hungry, doing and sending missionaries around the world.

    Their multi-media expense as a proportion of their budget is a fraction of what some churches spend on flowers, pews, choir robes and chandeliers.

    It’s not about size, it’s about the ministry they are doing. Being effective is magnetic. It attracts people who want to be a part of such a movement for the Lord that makes a real difference in the community.

    I know there are mega churches that do not preach the gospel or do much more than collect funds to fatten the wallets of the preacher, but they are not all like that, and it is unfair to assume so.

    • Hi Gary. Thank you for your comment. If my post came across as mainly a broad brush criticism of all larger churches or all churches that seek to grow large, I apologize. With writing occasionally words can come across stronger worded than intended. The main intention that I was hoping to get across in my post is a focus and reflection on what God appeared to desire most of a church’s collection money to be used for in scripture, which I suggest is spending on the needs of the people within the local assembly, helping the poor, and paying the leaders of the church.

      Certainly both small and large churches could easily be guilty of paying expensive costs of production and display at the cost of the more important things scripture seems to instruct of the usage of the collection money. I greatly appreciate you sharing your experience of consulting with various churches. I think if what you say is true that the money spent on production in the megachurches you worked with was not at the cost of the important things scripture seems to instruct for the collection money, and those churches make sufficient usage of such large facilities for every penny that they’re worth, then I think that’s good.

      With each and every church big or small making their own choices with the collection money, hopefully they’ll all make the choices of spending based on what scripture appears to instruct to be best.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  5. Amen! I agree wholeheartedly! It isn’t just what you said, though. It is that the whole concept of what church entails is backwards. The church is the body of Christ; believers in Jesus Christ, who have been born again of the Spirit of God. We, the people, are the church. The church is NOT an organization of human making. It is not a corporation under the headship of the federal government of the USA, though that is what many have made it. Because they see the church as a business, they run it like any other business. The big fancy buildings and all the money put into all the things you mentioned are all for marketing purposes. But, what are they marketing? It is NOT Jesus Christ and his gospel! We don’t reach people for Jesus using marketing schemes, though I am not saying that people are not won to Christ in these organizations.

    Because they market “the church” just like a business, the world is their customer base, and so they put on a show for the world to entertain them so that the world will feel at home in the gatherings of “the church” and so they will want to come back. They use gimmicks and entertainment and even sometimes sensuality in order to meet felt needs of people and to appeal to their flesh in order to grow their “churches,” i.e. businesses. And, so they also dilute the gospel message to make it more appealing and acceptable to the world so as not to offend the world with the old-time gospel as it was taught by Jesus and his NT apostles. Preachers have become clowns and entertainers and “worship” services have become huge stage productions with all the lights and special effects in order to attract the world, but to nothing more than maybe a slightly cleaned up version of what the world is offering. So, this isn’t the church gathering together for mutual edification so that they can go out into the world with the gospel.

    You are correct in suggesting that people are probably not hearing the unadulterated Word of Truth in these mega-churches. It is very watered down in most of them as they preach a half-truth gospel. Their salvation message is mostly about what Jesus did for them and their acceptance of what he did, but not what salvation requires of us in death to sin and in living to righteousness. In fact, many of them teach that we don’t have to turn from our sins and we don’t have to obey Christ, even though Jesus and his NT apostles taught that. They don’t teach that faith in Jesus is God-given and thus it is persuaded as to God’s will for our lives. They don’t teach that faith in Jesus means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, and that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we continue living in sin, we are liars. Their teaching often gives its adherents the false notion that they can live however they want and still have their ticket into heaven, but scripture does not teach that (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). Sue Love

    • Hi Sue. Thank you for your comment. Indeed, the church is the body of believers in Christ. “Going to church” as people commonly say should more accurately be referred to as assembling with the body of Christ. There are many local assemblies in the world, but only one Church. And I find much of what you’ve written here to be accurate from the few megachurches I’ve observed. A particular megachurch that I won’t name made it a numbers game constantly in scoring how many “salvations” they were getting each Sunday, how much money they were making, and imploring their assemblers that it was all about them inviting more and more people to their particular local assembly.

      I found the people of that church seemed to develop a pride in their pastor and in their particular local assembly, rather than all the boasting going appropriately to Jesus. Eventually this senior pastor was fired by his megachurch due to alcoholism, and much of their money raising went down with the pastor they seemed to almost worship at times gone. But hopefully as other commenters have expressed, it’s not the case of the majority of megachurches and just only a few bad apples that get the attention. I would think some of them genuinely make it all about Christ and living in sacrifice as a follower of Christ. But hopefully by all of our continual examples, we help to inspire people to make our focus more on having an authentic faith according to scripture.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

      • Thank you! I appreciate your response. And, I agree with what you have said here. The way many of them present the gospel, and the manner in which they get people “saved,” though, leads me to believe that many of these “salvations” are based in a lie and thus are not genuine according to the teachings of Christ and of his NT apostles.

        Many of these churches, and not just the mega ones, are only telling half the truth, and then they invite people to pray a prayer with them which has nothing to do with confession or repenting of sin or submission to Christ, but which merely acknowledges what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins. And, then they congratulate them, tell them they are now part of the family of God, that heaven is guaranteed them, and that no one can ever take that away from them, meaning they can now go on with their lives with no fear of the Lord, and with no turning from sin, and still go to heaven when they die, according to these preachers.

        I wish, though, that I could be as optimistic as you concerning the vast majority of the church in America, as well as the bulk of the mega-churches. Yet, I can’t, because I have seen too much and read too much and the Lord has spoken to me too often concerning the condition of the church in America to believe that what you and I have described is not the majority. Sad to say, though. Peace in Christ to you, too. Sue

      • On Saturday, March 18th, I heard Max Lucado tell people, basically, that God’s grace merely means that Jesus took our punishment so we don’t have to pay for our sin, and that all we have to do is just receive his grace, and we have, in essence, bought our life insurance that guarantees we will never have to pay for our sin (1). Yet, there was nothing said about repentance. Nothing about being crucified with Christ in death to sin, or that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Lucado, instead, appeared to indicate that the whole purpose of “insurance” is so we can continue sinning without having our insurance cancelled.

        He seemed to mock the whole idea of the importance of righteous living, and of walking in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh. I guess he forgot to read the part of the insurance policy where it says that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin), we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). He forgot to read Jesus’ words where he says that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25). I guess he also forgot Paul’s words where he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) in the flesh, to please our sinful passions and desires, that we will die in our sin, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the misdeeds of the flesh, we have eternal life with God (Ro. 8:1-14). Sue

      • Hmm, I’ve heard the name before, but not familiar with having ever watched any of his preaching. But that’s unfortunate if that’s the case as you say he’s teaching these things in this way. I’ve hoped with my post on the top of my main page that I’ve been able to debunk the idea of a sinner’s prayer granting one salvation. And definitely true that obedience is important as a part of continuing in our new life in being saved. I pray we can all continue to study scripture for ourselves as opposed to only believing what someone tells us, and come to the best understanding of our faith according to scripture.

        Peace in Christ 🙂

    • Hi George. Hahaha, if everyone could hear me, I would certainly do that. But you’re welcome to help me virtually sing this from the rooftops by sharing this post across your social media. 😉

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

    • Hi @unashamedojesus. Thank you for your comment. Indeed, certainly quite a few people could be helped I imagine. Though to be fair, I’m not aware of how much money he or his church gives to the poor or needy. I’ve never researched it myself. But I hope and pray that his church and all churches choose to use God’s money the way He wants the money to be used.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  6. I totally agree with you. The Church must be a place to rescue the poor, sick and needy not a place to warm benches and be entertained. In this age of social media we do not need massive structures to accommodate people. The money as you rightly said can be spend more wisely instead it is used to build bigger and better barns. God is not please with us.

    • Amen Beverley. We can pray and also set the example in our own charity to hopefully influence all members of the body of Christ to reflect and remember the importance of giving to the poor and needy in scripture. Thank you for your comment.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  7. I like my church’s route. It’s a church of 800, but the building is relatively flat; from the outside, except for the cross in front, you wouldn’t necessarily even peg it as a church at first glance. Inside, it’s strikingly spartan. A simple fireplace-lodge setup in the foyer is the only real luxury. But it IS geared towards taking care of people, such a sheltered drive-up (other churches spend six figures on glass-front renovations but somehow miss that idea). Meanwhile, the money is going where it should be – foreign missions and local outreach.

    • Hi Brandon. Thank you for your comment. I admire your local assembly’s modesty. It seems to reflect the modesty local assemblies in scripture seemed to reflect being held in people’s houses and people only making music to God with only their voices. Perhaps in that modesty there’s something that connects us more with our faith in God. Glad to hear your local assembly is making good charitable usage of collection money towards foreign missions and local outreach.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

    • Hi Akpederi. Thank you for your comment. Sure, I would agree that if one’s building is being fully utilized beyond just weekend services and the size of the congregation warrants a real actual need for such a larger building, perhaps the expense is a good one. As long as it doesn’t take away with what I suggest scripture indicates should be the primary expense being giving to the poor, the needs of others in the church and payment to the leaders of church. I would hope some of the larger churches in the world perhaps maybe use their facilities to house homeless people or do some other kind of sheltering for those in need. But it’s my hope and prayer that in this post and conversation in these comments that we’re all reflecting on what God really desires of His collection money according to scripture, and hopefully each indiviual local assembly will make the best decisions accordingly.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  8. I agree! Too much money that should be going to the community around the church (you know, to help those in need and get them to view God in a better light) is being squandered on unnecessary things. People want real, not a smokescreen hiding the truth.

    I think that the moment the church becomes too big for the building, that’s God trying to say you have enough people to create another church. We are called to go out and preach the Gospel, not stay together and never talk to outsiders. And, once you’re that large, it isn’t like you’d be sending out people alone. But that way, you can be going out and reaching more people, and by keeping that connection to the mother church, you can be building and expanding the people of God without schisms.

    • Well said emmilner7r. A lot more that could possibly be done to help people besides creating an expensive weekly rock concert in a super large facility, which I too find would reflect more of an authenticity if things were changed in that way. Hopefully this next generation of believers coming up starting churches will want to move things more in an authentic direction.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

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