Please Turn to Chapter 11

I am back from a nice vacation and ready to post again.

This past week I was traveling to Colorado with my wife when we saw a for sale sign where a bigger and better church was to be built.  Knowing a little inside information, that church is taking a couple million dollar hit on the possible sale of the land.  I have a feeling this is not the only church building in financial troubles.

I have seen many articles over the last couple years regarding churches who are going bankrupt because they can no longer afford to pay their building mortgages.

Evidently, and most of the time, these “businesses” built larger facilities or expanded existing facilities because their attendance was rising.  So, at the time, taking on additional debt was not even a concern with the anticipated growth of more “tithers” or “giving units”.  Then 2008 hit, a recession punched people right in the face.  Jobs were lost, and many had to move away for new job opportunities, or people just stopped giving to the institution.  The fear of what might happen next kept people from giving to their local church building.  

Well, I am bearish on the economy over the next few years, and if I am right, I see unemployment staying high or even increasing.  So I also see the giving drying up even more for many of these “in the red” churches.

I think this long-term financial crisis is reminding the Western church, and especially the paid pastors of those churches, a great lesson that cannot be easily dismissed.  This crisis should help them focus on what church really is… THE PEOPLE, not the building.  Everyone knows that, but do they really think that way?

Think what you like, but in my mind, the church really was about the building and everything that went on inside every weekend.  The pastors would not be calling their banks telling them they cannot pay the mortgage if it wasn’t. 

I know this might sound harsh, but I would not mind seeing the recession drag on for a tad longer, just enough to kill off the rest of the “church buildings” and “building-centric” programs.  These buildings and programs are based on American business thinking (and consumerism), and I think a swift kick in the pants will force the pastoral leadership in this country to think differently about what God wants for His church (which I am almost certain is not debt).

Many more churches will close their doors over the next several years because of the financial mess the US is in.  These churches are businesses, and look what is happening to businesses.  I believe more churches are going bankrupt today than ever before, however, it does not mean the people within the church building cannot meet elsewhere…. 

…. because if the building goes under, it does not mean the CHURCH does.

5 thoughts on “Please Turn to Chapter 11

  1. “…church really is… THE PEOPLE, not the building. Everyone knows that, but do they really think that way?”

    Yep. I’ve been going slightly crazy lately whenever I hear the word church being used. It ussually refers to either a building, institution/corporation, or a specific Sunday morning event. It rarely is used to refer to a building.

    The buildings could all go, and the church (people) would not lose any of it’s beauty, it would likely gain some.

  2. I agree that church is the people, but I’m not sure how I feel about your desire for the economy to linger for that reason alone.

    For one, I attended services for a long time in a place where having a building just wasn’t possible; just waaaaay too conspicuous. We *had* to meet in houses.

    It was fun at times, but it could also be limiting.

    I’m not saying congregations absolutely need buildings, but it *does* make things easier in a lot of ways. I don’t think anyone would accuse a pew as being “comfortable”, but it’s a *lot* easier for a large group of people to be seated in long rows of pews or chairs in a large warehouse-like building than for them all to cram into someone’s living room.

    When I first came home from overseas, however, I felt exactly as you did. I just didn’t get it. But as my heart starts to soften towards God’s People again, and the real threat of many folks I care about losing their jobs looms closer, I can’t say I really want the economy to collapse….because it’s going to affect us ALL negatively, not just “those people over there”.

    And I’m just not sure I’m happy about that.

  3. Lady Tam Li – I think the economy worsening in the US would actually be a somewhat of a positive. It is a wake up call for people to actual focus on Christ and actually help each other and not be so focused on consuming so much stuff that does not matter. Of course I do not want people to lose their jobs, but if they do WE should be there to pick them up.

    Also, it is not the building, it is the debt used to build bigger and better (when big and better is not needed)

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