This Headline Caught My Eye

Erik Cooper —  January 27, 2011 — 8 Comments

As a church planter, this headline caught my eye. As in a right hook. I may need stitches.

Read the full article here.

I suppose in the economic scheme of things, this is nothing but a logical progression. But it’s definitely got my co-pastor Nathan LaGrange and I talking at City Community Church. Is owning a building something we ever want to mess with?

We’ve become hesitant to ever say never, especially since a majority of the things we thought we knew about leading a church have completely shifted in the 22 months since CityCom’s launch. Crisis can force emotional responses (even when it’s a crisis you’re watching others face), but it can also squeeze out some brutal honesty.

So I’m curious. For those of you who are part of a church with no owned facility, do you still aspire to have one? And for those of you who do own a facility, do you ever wish you didn’t?

8 responses to This Headline Caught My Eye

  1. Erik,
    This is NOT an economic problem. It’s a spiritual problem. They even noted that the churches were shrinking. Not an economic problem.

    And I don’t think, this is Roc talking, the lack of giving is an economic issue. I realize that there are differing opinions of what “tithing” really means. But most will not argue that it’s part of worship. And most will not argue that it is SACRIFICIAL.

    Now that being said, the economy will change what quantity “sacrificial” represents. But I submit that if more Christians had faith to give sacrificially, that they actually believed what God promised, a large dent in the economy would not endanger a church operation or facilities — ownership or not.

    The other part is the debt. Is it right to go into great debt to build a church while teaching debt is wrong? You can’t foreclose on a building that is paid for. Right?

    Praying for CityComm!
    ~ Doc

  2. Gotta say – Texting hasn’t helped my typing skills. Just don’t know what advantage owning property gives to fledgeling ministry or any ministry for that matter. Barring ministries that have grown so large and “successful” that a building and property become some kind of accounting maneuver, i.e. depreciation, capital reinvestment, blah, blah, blah – there are definately liabilities. If a ministry has a large enough revenue stream that it has to figure out creative ways to dodge the tax man – 1. Kudos 2. Somebody needs to start planning some killer ways to spend the dough! Just don’t see why you’d want to give up the mobility and flexibility of not being anchored to property you own when the logistical advantages are there weather you own it or not. If greater stability and security is the goal maybe sites can be changed or leases negotiated with those things in mind. Not trying to say owning is BAD but only GOOD when it’s a NECESSARY extension of the ministries purpose and mission. Yeah, that’s all. I know. But look around at the long-standing well established denominations with gigantic overheads ( subjects of article ) and infrastructures – visit a few. I do on a regular basis. I see beautiful buildings. Awesome facilities. Well manicured and scenic properties. Some of these places are in framed pictures on the walls inside architectural firms. Just wonder if now, in our time, with all the current challenges faced by the BODY OF CHRIST if we want to risk becoming victims of the associative dissorder that says church=building.

  3. As a worship leader at a church that just went from portable to leasing a church building…I can absolutely see the benefits of having your own space. The ministry is growing….both in terms of attendance and in terms of the things we’re able to do in our community. We were very much committed to avoiding the pitfalls of capitol campaigns and everything else that goes along with constructing a McMansion church. In our case, we were able to lease a building from another church and our costs remained almost unchanged. We are now IN A NEIGHBORHOOD, which we felt was something God wanted, and we still have no debt. The ideal solution as far as I’m concerned: Find a place to lease. Otherwise, how are you going to host weddings 😉

    • Appreciate all the input (from everyone here and on Facebook & via email). I wasn’t attempting to make a moral statement about whether a church should own a facility. I think owning certainly has a place and purpose for a local church. But I also think it comes with it’s own set of challenges, headaches, and potential pitfalls (as does renting). I simply found this article sobering. Worthy of conversation. Thanks everyone.

  4. We were very anti-building when we launched four years ago. Then the opportunity came along for a long term lease. One thing we have learned is that church buildings do serve some great purposes. We are still outwardly focused and use the building to serve our mission.

    • Your thoughts mean a lot Tony. I’ve been watching you guys closely (somewhat by default with Scott being my neighbor…and such a cool guy). Love your perspective on ministry and your passion for your community. It shows in everything you do at Life Church. Keep up the good work and keep inspiring the rest of us.

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