Farewell Church Buildings

Farewell Church Buildings (some, at least). Click here to see what the Wall Street Journal is saying about it.

The untold story of the church building is fascinating. And the astronomical figure that Christians spend on buying and maintaining them is astounding (the data is listed in Pagan Christianity, Chapter 2).

Sometimes the economy has a way of making us rethink things. And today, many are being forced to rethink their edifice complex.



  1. says

    Seems to me that churches could meet in a private restaurant dining room like the Rotary Club if their group is too big to meet in a home. They can enjoy Acts 2:42 activities together for the price of a meal and get out into the world a little more with their Christian witness and influence.

  2. barbara@flatbeds for trucks says

    I agree to what barrby64 is saying, we guys should focus on praising our Lord, instead of getting busy on other things, and another fact that people tend to borrow money in order just to build larger churches, well it has it’s own advantage and disadvantages too, as what Clifton said, God will provide.

  3. B.R. Clifton says

    Not that I agree with the need for church buildings and especially big ones, but the deeper problem for these congregations is that they make the mistake of borrowing the money to finance their projects from secular (the world) institutions. That’s directly against the command of God. Besides that, if God were writing a church building program, He would also UNDERWRITE it. Meaning He would supply the necessary funds to fulfill His wishes. God always provides. In my opinion the money spent thusly could be much better spent otherwise in the Kingdom.

    The pilgrims made the same mistake in their move to the new world. They needed funds for the move and wrote a contract with a secular financier. It took them years to get out from under the oppresive debt that nearly sucked them dry.

  4. james mccrorey says

    Are we talking about Church buildings or Worship Centers/Concert Halls which are more common in our day?

  5. says

    Hi Judy,

    I hear what you’re saying. From what I’ve been seeing; I believe what you’re describing is churchwide. I’ve seen dissatisfaction with our Western diet in my own church and a desire to see things as God, the Father sees it. Our approach will differ; however we’re on the same page.

    I’m one who rejoices in the good things God is doing in both the institutional churches and the organic churches. Let’s keep our eyes on Christ and off the religious system.

    • says

      Barry: Great word, Barry. Note that “organic church” is all about Christ and nothing less. (Sadly, the term is being used for other systems by some as I’ve addressed many times on this blog.)

  6. Judy Gale says

    “…the astronomical figure that Christians spend on buying and maintaining them is astounding….” That SO disturbed me while I was living abroad…that it led to one of my (many) paradigmn shifts re: “things Christian vs things Western.”

  7. says

    Hi Frank,

    I actually read a similar article, some time ago. I can’t say I’m surprised to see so many church community struggling with the financing of a church building. I’ve also been aware of some prophetic words from Kim Clement and others of even more changes coming this way. I don’t know if it will be the removal of tax exemptions for churches or what.

    For me, I see church as a community and don’t care where we meet. It can be a house, a religious facility, a warehouse or a woodland glade. It’s not the building that mattrs; rather it’s what we do as Christians.

    Yes, I did laugh at your use of “edifice complex”. Are you sure this is not a “father” issue? :) For those who may have missed it; think Oedipus.

  8. Robyn G. says

    God will get what God wants… My good friend and I were discussing this exodus we are seeing from the church institutions and I truly believe that God is preparing a strong band of believers to help those who will be turned out on the streets when their churches have to close. Many will be disheartned, confused, and fearful and those of us who have been prepared will be able to come along side them to help them through the wilderness we have already traveled…to freedom from walls, schedules, and traditions!

  9. says

    Some time ago I came across a fascinating sentence whilst paging through a dusty old copy of the famous Time-Life “The Great Cities” series (this one was on Jerusalem). Commenting on the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, “…one rabbi even wrote boldly that a great wall had been demolished between God and his chosen people. For now the entire system of burnt offering became obsolete, and henceforth sacrifice would be made in the heart.” Quite a stroke of insight, I would say, especially coming from a Rabbi! I could not help but think of this quote as I read your post and the Wall Street Journal article. Preterists tend to have a somewhat greater grasp of the theological significance of this event, but you certainly don’t have to be one to grasp what God was saying through the destruction of the temple. Perhaps we are seeing something of an encore at the present time, especially with the incredible shaking of the only city in the western world called “Christchurch”.

  10. Jerry Allen says

    Many years ago Larry Burkett talked about an economic melt down this country is headed towards if we continue our spending habits. It made me think about how it would affect the mega churches that require tens of thousands towards overhead just to open their doors each week. As congregants can no longer be milked for the finances that are needed you will see more and more churches having to close their doors (having defaulted since they are doing business just like the rest of the world) leaving many members wandering, looking for fellowship. The missional organic home church needs to be ready to receive them.

  11. says

    thanks for this post Frank…it is not only repetitious of what you have written but also something we all knew was coming…in addition to the fine insights, we are seeing in local churches around the country a new generation of Christ-followers who will NOT be the ones who will be able to “service” long term congregational debt. The previous generations had no problem making long-term financial commitments to local churches and denominational ‘brands’…the younger generations are not wired up that way. They are driven more consumeristically and will not be the ones who will stick around a local church JUST to follow through on a financial commitment IF their needs are being met. The older generations had a HUGE commitment to places and brands…not so with the younger folks. This article says what we all know is coming…

  12. David Coufal says

    Wow, that’s interesting news. I live in Christchurch, New Zealand, which has been rocked by a second earthquake just two weeks ago (the first one was on September 4, last year). A lot of the historic church buildings collapsed (some well beyond repair) during the quake. I know that most of these were made of brick, which explains why they couldn’t hold up to the shaking, but I guess they’re in similar position to the American churches, albeit for different reason.

  13. MichaelO says

    Great article. It seems as though everything that can be shaken, is being shaken.
    It is interesting that Ms Banjo’s article revolves around a Vineyard church.
    Having been in the Vineyard movement at one time and a student of the history of that movement. It was at one time a church planting movement, divide and multiply, rather than a building builder. Of course it never did get the organic part right.
    Also as a member of the Charismatic movement I was a part of a few new church plants.
    Things went well in all instances until some folks would want a “building”.
    Then it would gradually digress into that 1700 year old modeled thing (why do we skip the first 100 years).
    Been there bought the t-shirt and washed the “sanctuary” windows with it and threw it away along with another set of illusions of granduer.
    I also say “farewell church buildings”, farewell singular pastor, farewell top down control oriented hierarchy.
    Say hello kingdom of God, hello King, I’ll meet where you are, around you, doing what You want.

  14. says

    The Wall Street Journal article that you linked us to, ends with this quote: “A building does not make a church.” A building can be a good tool for a church, but it can also be a crutch. Without organic spiritual life, a building is but bricks, etc.

    I was once in a pastors’ meeting in a fancy church building. I was talking with two pastors when one of them said: “My! This certainly is a marvelous structure.”

    The other guy responded: “Yes indeed. It is a glorious edifice!”

    I couldn’t hold back, so I said: “Not only that, it’s a real nice building.”

    • says

      It *could be* a good tool, but it also can be something quite destructive to the spiritual life a body of believers. The reasons are outlined in “Pagan Christianity.” The issue goes far deeper than calling a church a building. (As I’ve often said, calling a church a building is like calling one’s wife a skyscraper.) The social location of a church effects the functioning of that church in subtle but real ways.

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