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Why I Hate Church Buildings

by Stephen Hebert on Thursday - 26 July 2007

in Ministry

Bottom Line (confusing, because it’s at the top): The building I go to most Sundays cost $2 million to build.

Now, that’s not an exact figure, but you get the idea. That is a heck of a lot of money, even in the affluent community in which I dwell. That’s 2 million McDonald’s double cheeseburgers that could have fed 2 million hungry mouths. That’s 100,000 pairs of jeans that could have kept somebody warm or made them feel a little more comfortable at school or a job interview. That’s a lot.

It seems to me that so many churches start off small with these grand ideas of changing the world. They begin as visionaries, as idealists. When the rubber meets the road, and people start coming, they start changing. They have to employ more people to care for the people. They have to employ more people to care for the people who care for the people. They start up new programs. They build new buildings.

I am not at all saying that these costs aren’t necessary. But, so many of them are. How many sweet lookin’ macs do we need? [I admit that I would usually say: “As many as we can get our hands on.] Why do we need “state-of-the-art” sound systems? Does this help God to be heard? Are granite floors really the way to go?

Churches should invest in people. So many do such a great job of this. The church I go to does a pretty good job of it (I have some ideas for how they could do better…of course). I’ve harped and harped and harped about how relationships are so important. Investments in relationships excitement—they are a better foundation than concrete and steel.

Okay, what does a building-less church look like?

Well, I’m going to get an opportunity to see. Ecclesia, a church that serves the Montrose area in Houston, is planting a church in southeast Houston (the Clear Lake area) called, appropriately, “Ecclesia Clear Lake.” Regular meetings being September 9. The vision for this community does not have the word “building” anywhere associated with it. This is not at all uncommon. What is uncommon is a pastor that has a vision for a building-less church (at least this was his vision several months back).

So, I ask again: “What does a church with no building look like?”

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