It is easy and desirous for some to grab on to the simple thought, “all that is needed for church growth is a new or bigger building.” This thinking is in stark contrast to the reality that a building does not equal building the church.
It’s also easy to get caught in the trap that a new building or building project will solve problems, help unify the congregation, increase giving, or attract new people.
Let’s debunk some of that wrong thinking surrounding church facility construction
There are some really good questions to ask yourself and your congregation before you embark on a building campaign.
1. Do you have a large debt on your current facility?
If you are already deep in debt it would not be wise to saddle additional debt and thus strain on your ministry. This may seem like common sense, but it is amazing how uncommon common sense is. The added debt payments will only take away from investing into areas that can help the ministry grow.
2. Do you expect a new building to make a “statement” in your community?
This really smacks of egotism. If you think that having the coolest or newest building in town is going to help your church grow, you are unfortunately in line for a serious let down. I have seen wonderful growing churches meeting in the humblest of places. I have also seen soaring beautiful churches with 90% of the seats empty on a Sunday.
3. Do you need to increase membership to pay for the increased debt of a new facility?
This is really putting your faith into the “if you build it they will come philosophy.” What happens if they don’t come? Do you default on the loan? To me putting your faith in increased membership to pay for a building project is putting your faith in the wrong place.
4. Do you expect a new building to cause your congregation to be more evangelical and outreach driven?
Yes, a new building is a great talking point and it can be a start in getting people to ask others to visit your church. However, without a culture of evangelism this will be very short lived. Once the building has been open for a little while your congregation will fall back in the old habits and will not continue to invite people.
5. Do you need a building to allow your whole church to meet at one time?
This is a great question that is not asked enough. A church I am familiar with was about to embark on a multi-million-dollar expansion to the children’s area because of crowded conditions. At the same time, they happened to send out a survey to the congregation. One of the questions on the survey was “what service time do you prefer?”
The church found out on the survey that parents with children were about evenly split on wanting an earlier service versus a later one. At that point the decision became why don’t we offer two service times and thus split the children’s attendance and negate the need to build. As a side note. Two years later they ended up building because both services had grown so much that they now needed the space to accommodate the number of children in both services.
6. Do you expect a new building will entice your congregation to give more generously?
You might get a spike in additional giving towards a building project. However, if you had another area like missions that was highlighted, you could also get the same spike in giving.
The real danger here is again putting faith into “if you will build it they will come, or in this case give”
Some final thoughts, owning a building does not make you a church, or even a better one. What makes a church are the people in whatever setting God has placed them. Also, don’t fall into the trap thinking that if you would build that problems will go away. If anything the added financial and organizational stress is only going to exacerbate problems that already exist.
So before embarking on building your field of dreams, make sure that you are grounded in truth and are truly following God’s will for your congregation and not just man’s dreams.