Saturday, August 9, 2008

Church Buildings

I guess it's good that few people read this blog, because I think this post would make people angry.

I have a lot of personal heroes in the faith from history. Jesus gave up all He had in Heaven to give His life to this fallen human race so He could love us and bring us to God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave up a wealthy lifestyle to help lead the underground church in Nazi Germany. Mother Teresa gave up her life to help people who were at the bottom of the barrel of life's sufferings.

Jesus told the rich man who wanted to go to Heaven to sell all he had, but the guy just went away depressed because he owned so much. Then Jesus said it was extremely difficult for rich people to make it into the Kingdom. Which, looking at the standard of wealth at that time is nothing in comparison to the standard of wealth in the States.


And then I walk into most church buildings today in America. I think I'm judgmental... I have a big problem with it. I can't walk into expensive church buildings with fountains, expensive decorations, coffee shops, cool logos and lightshows without thinking about how many missionaries all that money could support. Or how many poor families could use that money to help pay rent, mortgages, and taxes. I wish I looked at my own money and thought, "I wonder how much I can save so I can help other people?"

Today someone was talking to me about expensive church buildings he saw, and a look of disgust grew on my face as he was speaking. He got pretty firm with me and told me I shouldn't judge, because those people have good hearts and they want to use it all for ministry and honoring God. He's probably right. I think most Christians have good hearts, and I have no place to ever question that.

But it still bothers me. I still don't get it. Reading the Bible and looking at Jesus' life, it's hard for me to look up and find a connection to what I see in megachurches and the Bible. I'm not saying big churches are evil, but I can't help wondering if we have our priorities a little mixed up.

I remember looking at the flashy (and gorgeous) Catholic church buildings in Mexico City and just being so confused. A gold cross? The cross was a wooden torture stick used for the worst punishment imaginable, and now we wear it as jewelry. Seems to me like it's kind of like having a tattoo of an electric chair on your arm or something.

Maybe someone needs to explain it to me better. It's just hard for me to imagine Jesus attending a big Church seeing all "God's money" spent on so much flash. It makes me sick to even think about...


I wonder how much money is spent on something that happens one hour a week.


It's not like I'm much better. Any time I get shocked by something, I always have to look inwardly. How do I spend my money? Because it's God's money, too. I really want an iPhone, but I know I shouldn't spend my money on it. Not because it's evil... but because I don't need it. I can help people with that money, but instead I want to feed ME. Yuck. I wish I could really be like Jesus... not judging others yet still pouring my life out to others asking nothing in return. One step at a time, I suppose. God help me.

Any thoughts?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Joshua. I think that same thing when I go to the BIG city and see all the big money spent on Church Builings. To me, The best church builing is a living room of a brother or sister in Christ. Or maybe my house.

We need good facilities for worship and study. However, some of these buildings look like too much of the world.

Give me a home a bible and some good ole air conditioning and I'm good to go.

Good Post

Anonymous said...

My name is Larry. I am having trouble posting on your site using google account.

Good post

Mommysmart said...

Joshua,

I attended a VERY large church for 7 years. I remember the first time that I walked in and having a lot of the same feelings that you were talking about. Who needs a fountain at church? By the time we moved away, I understood it.

You know, with AIM, you have to learn the language and customs and traditions of the country that you will be joining. The only reason to go through all of that trouble is so that you can relate to the people that you will be ministering to. I think that a church in an afluent area does the same. It is impossible to minister to others if you can't "make them feel at home".

It still does not make me comfortable to see money spent needlessly, but I would say that that such behavior is sort of the American custom.

During the time that we worshiped in that big church, I saw a lot of Jesus being shared. I saw tremendous ministry. I knew that God was there.

Now, do I believe that Jesus would be hanging out in a mega chruch? Probably not, but then, I'm not convinced that he would be hanging out in ANY church.

I enjoyed your post!

Monica

Joshua Tucker said...

Thanks for the comments guys.

Larry - I share your sentiment. After spending time in big churches it just feels fake to me, but maybe that's just my perspective. Part of that is that I hate fakeness, and I love genuine relationships. For me at least, it's nearly impossible to have real relationships in huge places.

Monica - I appreciate what you said. Just because it's weird for me, it doesn't make it wrong. I can see how churches need to be level with the culture they're in - including financially. I guess in my head I have a problem between "being all things to all men" and following customs, and balancing that with the teachings of Jesus. This is the problem with any mission work, though. I guess I've read too much of "The Irresistible Revolution". I hope you enjoy yourself out at Dimmitt, and I appreciate your perspective.

TREY MORGAN said...

I agree 100%!

brettincasie said...

I'm kind of late to comment here, but I just wanted to say that I have a hard time understanding the difference between "becoming all things to all men" and just making people comfortable. Christianity isn't comfortable, it isn't easy. It should be inviting for anyone, but not compromising. Hard stuff. I think I'm going to feel weird going back to the States after being in house churches and a rented coffee shop...

David Creek said...

well said brother.

Paul Ford said...

Super!!!

I'm reminded of these:

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:21

"But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented." - Luke 16:25

We need to be careful on how comfortable we are in this life...

Rose said...

Good for people to know.

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Pheliox said...

Great great post!!! Some even says that it's God's will or God gave that vision to build a big church.

I posibility is to attract non believer and to have bigger capasity (this is probably the most used reason)

What I think is, church nowadays are not God's Church anymore. Just imagine the two thousand years of evolution of churches around the world. Persecuted and persecuting era come and past. It's not pure anymore. There are so many things happen in this two thousand years. Who can still remember what is the original church. I even doubt that Bible is dependable anymore.

Pheliox said...

Great great post!!! Some even says that it's God's will or God gave that vision to build a big church.

I posibility is to attract non believer and to have bigger capasity (this is probably the most used reason)

What I think is, church nowadays are not God's Church anymore. Just imagine the two thousand years of evolution of churches around the world. Persecuted and persecuting era come and past. It's not pure anymore. There are so many things happen in this two thousand years. Who can still remember what is the original church. I even doubt that Bible is dependable anymore.