Jul

06

2011

John Starke|5:30 AM CT

Should Churches Spend Money on Nice Buildings?

Your church, by God's grace, needs more space. You need a new building. So how much should you spend? One thing's for certain: you won't lack for opinions.

Building projects are a source of significant tension for many pastors and other church leaders. Anyone who has survived the process will recognize these questions: Why don't we build a beautiful building that reflects God's glory? Why are we spending so much money on a building when there are so many lacking food, shelter, and especially the gospel?

Writing in his new book Radical Together, David Platt considers these issues as pastor of a megachurch with multi-million-dollar facilities in Birmingham, Alabama.

Because we have this building, I want us to steward it well, whether that means maximizing it for ministry or selling it and spending our resources differently. Everything is on the table, and the Lord will lead us in what is best. I realize that a lot of people in our faith family have sacrificed greatly to make our facility a reality, and I am deeply grateful for God's grace in them. At the same time, I am not convinced that large buildings are the best or only way to use God's resources.

Expanding on his point, Platt unveils his concern about such expensive facilities.

You may ask (as members of our church as well as leaders of other churches have asked me in countless conversations), "What's so wrong with constructing church buildings? Nowhere does the New Testament say we shouldn't construct church buildings."

But that's just it. There's also nothing in the NT that says we should construct church buildings. So why is it that, whenever we plant a church or whenever a church starts to grow, the first thing we think is, We need to spend masses of our resources on a building? Why would we spend an inordinate amount of our resources on something that is never prescribed or even encouraged in the NT? Why would we not instead use those resources on that which is explicitly promoted in the NT, such as sharing the gospel with the lost or helping the poor in the church? As I write this, more than 700 million people around the world live in slums. Many of them are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Should we really be prioritizing bigger buildings for ourselves?

Many pastors and other church leaders feel this tension that Platt so plainly describes. That doesn't mean, however, that they would reach the same conclusions. The Gospel Coalition asked three other church leaders to weigh in on the issue of how a local churches should use their resources in relation to a building. We trust their answers will help us think wisely about how our churches steward the resources entrusted to us by God.

John Starke is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and lead pastor of All Souls Church in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. You can follow him on Twitter.

Categories: Ministry

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