Before asking many of the questions typically voiced about whether or not a church should build new facilities and expand or renovate, let’s first ask some key questions:
1) What is the bare minimum we need, for our church, to fulfill our purpose to love God and love people?
2) What is the optimal, for our church, to be fulfilling our purpose to love God and love people?
3) Where do we cross the line in either direction, lose our footing, and stop fulfilling our purpose to love God and love people?
Proverbs 30:8-9 does not speak of church facilities but the principle therein certainly could apply. — “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”
One of the points we can pull from these verses is that we must not allow our facilities, however grand or meager, to distract us from our primary purpose. We must not get so consumed with our surroundings that we forget God or dishonor His name. When we cross this line, we set ourselves up for a fall.
We lose our footing when we begin to:
- rely more on “what” we have to attract people than “Who” we have.
- begrudge what we do not have rather than trust “Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20).
- become so financially indebted that we cannot meet the needs of people and hence show God’s love to them.
- manipulate people in order to raise funds.
- put people on guilt trips if they don’t commit to a fundraising pledge.
- get so rigid about how the church facilities are used that we lose the flexibility needed to flow with the Spirit.
- focus more on preserving buildings than on promoting ministry.
- get so consumed with comparing ourselves to those who have more than we do that we don’t do what we can do with what we do have.
- find ourselves competing with other churches to be bigger or better.
We don’t need a magnificent building to live out God’s purposes. We can exist with the bare minimum, and even thrive with very little. The extras might enhance what we do but if we aren’t careful, they can also become a miry pit of distractions.
If you have crossed that line, cry out to the Lord for help to regain your footing. May you be able to say, “He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Ps. 40:1-2).