In the fifth blog from Craig Groeschel regarding the United Methodist Church, Groeschel addresses how many church (in the UMC and other denominations) have mainly/mostly empty buildings and how churches should attempt to share ministry/space/resources together. Looking at it from my church perspective- there are parts of our building that gets used frequently, while there are some other rooms/areas that seldom get used. It certainly maximizes the dollars a church spends on buildings if the entire building gets used throughout the week. First some thoughts on our buildings and then some thoughts on sharing resources.
- Our church buildings (or buildings of the church) have become too sacred. The building is not the church- the people are. With that in mind, our buildings are mearly a tool for the spread of the gospel. Unfortunately, our buildings have become sacred cows and many churches are reluctant to truly do everything possible to make sure all the rooms in the building are multi-purpose (I’m looking at you, Sanctuary!)
- I am a proponent of no pews in the sanctuary. (Yes, I heard a collective gasp-maybe from Avenue’s congregation!) I think sanctuaries should have chairs that are removable, whether your sanctuary is a modern “multi-purpose” room or a gothic looking sanctuary (like Avenue). At Avenue, our sanctuary gets used on Sunday for four services and then sporadically in the week (mostly music rehearsals for Sunday.) If there were chairs in the sanctuary- the floor space could be set up in all sorts of configurations to hold meetings, classes, etc. The sanctuary moves from being a tool to use only once a week for worship- into a tool that can be used everyday of the week. To me, a sanctuary that is only used on Sunday is wasted space.
- Part of building use is tied to vision. What kind of vision do we have to our church? How does our tool (the building) help us meet our calling/vision? If it doesn’t- how can we remodel, change, rearrange so that our tool (building) helps us fulfill our vision/calling? Those are some of the questions we should ask when looking at our facilities.
Groeschel also talks about churches working together and even brings up the “m” word (merging). I was shocked when I was in youth ministry about how territorial churches can be. At times I worked hard to try and reach out to other groups in the area to share ministry and each time was turned away. After that, I’m sure I was guilty about focusing inwardly. Working together in communities is something that all churches can improve on!
I give Groeschel credit for Open Lifechurch.tv and other resources that they (as well as other churches) are now making available free of charge. A resource like this can be a great encouragement and be a catalyst for other churches to be creative in sharing the gospel.
How is your church sharing resources within your community? How are you using your tools (building) creatively/effectively to share the Gospel?
I agree with churches sharing resources including worshipping in larger groups versus a small congregation here and there. We all fall into the trap of thinking the building is more important than the people. From experience I’ve been to churches that have the traditional sanctuary and one with removable chairs. Those that appear “ready to move” feel different. They did not feel permanent and Jesus is. I have friends that regret getting married in “gyms”. I remember feeling I was in a warehouse and not a church in those places. Think about the importance of the temple in the Old Testament. Then think about the preaching Jesus did from a boat. The traditional sanctuary is important to me, but not as much as the message. I’m thankful I’m in a place that has both.
Serving in a congregation that has ultimately embraced its identity as a Church that has 3 different locations. The charge I serve is actually 3 churches but has one worship service that rotates between the 3 buildings. The majority of regular attendees come to worship regardless of the location that Sunday. There are just a few that only attend when the Worship Service is held at “Their Church”
A little over a year ago when we combined the Treasuries of the three churches for more effective accounting and stewardship I sensed we were moving towards a discussion on being able to potentially operating out of one building. Of the three churches, one of the churches holds roughly 20 services while the other 2 churches hosts 12 services each year. These numbers do not add up to 52 weeks because we also combine worship multiple times a year with the African American Church in our community on the first Sunday of the month.
From a purely business mindset it would be obvious that it would much wiser to operate with one church building. Unfortunately, this past year the buildings which are used the least both made signifigant capitol improvements, one with a new roof and another had the brick sidewalk repaired. Each of these projects cost over $12,000 and set the discussion of moving towards one building back at least five years. It has broken my heart to see people so connected to the buildings that they are nearly idols in peoples lives.
I have identified with much of the perspective on Craig Groeschel's Thoughts. It has also caused me to continue to press in to ask God, is this where I am called? Steve thank you for your faithfulness in sharing your thoughts with us.