Over the past couple millennia many Christians have put places over people. In the average local church here in the West much more money and time is spent on their buildings than they spend on people outside the walls (helping the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, or helping the homeless)
Building needs have been placed above people needs, which has royally, or should I say morally messed up many people’s priorities. Even if many churches claim to put people first, their actions (in my experience) have spoken a very different message. I remember going through a capital campaign about 10 years ago where the church needed to raise 30 million dollars. What was the 30 million bucks for? The millions were for more buildings, parking, and offices. They were “making room for more”. I remember the celebrations (which I was a part of at the time), where all the top financial gurus around said it was impossible to raise that kind of money in our demographic. Well, the church actually raised 35 million bucks! Impossible.. not with God, right? You know it was God’s hand that made the goal blast past the 30 million…right? Or, was it the best church marketing plan ever? I now feel like it was the latter. Looking back at the money spent just to raise that much money is sickening to my stomach.
The “church” said … God is blessing us! Yeah right, the only blessing you were getting was your own self-indulgence. More programs, better grounds, coffee shops, bookstores, activity centers, concert halls, ect…
I know you can see this scenario two different ways. There is a bigger, better, more beautiful building to come “worship” in (whatever the heck “worship” means these days). Or, you can see a shit-load of money and time being wasted on bricks and mortar and non-essentials. I do not know the right answer, and at the time I was all for it, but now it actually makes me so ill feeling inside when I think about it. I actually despise putting money into a unbiblical man-made system. We need to put time and money into each other and actually build a real community and not a false sense of one.
The churchgoer’s response was rather typical, “If we have a bigger building, we can save more people and in turn raise more money to help the poor.” Well, I can find many things in that sentence that could wave the red theological bullshit flag, but I will keep focused on the building.
I have not been back to the church I used to attend in a couple of years, but I know they are still paying a ton of interest on loans over and above the 35 million raised, because they spent way more than what was raised since then, which in turn probably increased the involvement with the poor and needy as more people came to add their tithe to the program. But, at the same time the upkeep on the campus has likely increased exponentially too (but no one talks about that). So in the end, the building wins, the people (outside the walls) get the shaft.
The BS I have noticed over the years, and I find it absolutely insane, that in hard times the church cuts back on helping others, and focuses on their building (because they see this human made structure as a “sacred” place, or a “saving” place). A “saving” place? … well, that is another whole topic to tackle another time.
Well the way I see sacred places within scripture were as shadows, and they were usually cast by the reality of Christ. Sort of the 1st tier versus the 2nd tier kind of thinking I wrote about a few posts ago.
The 1st tier is Christ, and the second tier is to have a building as “sacred” ground. The unfortunate part is many people have made the church building a 1st tier priority.
These sacred “sanctuaries” culminated in Christ and not in brick and mortar structures constructed by churchgoers. So I feel this makes a “church” building just a regular space. There is no “sanctuary” in it. All the stained glass, crosses, candles, or gold in the world cannot transform that regular space into a wonderful “sacred” space.
Sacred spaces, all along through scripture, were pointing to Christ, not to church buildings.