So as a father figure in my church and maybe even to others I am growing more accustomed to sharing my thoughts...out loud too! I have always been an inside processor and would hardly ever let anyone know what I was processing or thinking about, so it is hard to get much accomplished keeping things to yourself. So I am going to share one of my pet kingdom peeves right now that I am beginning to hear others catching on to. I have this philosophy concerning things like church buildings and other stuff. We started our church over 17 years ago so we know what it is like to look for buildings and such and I have begun to wonder why we, the Church, continue to ask God to pay for the same building over and over...how many times should God and His people pay for the same building?
I have a friend who is a pastor and they were looking at a building in Oregon, Ohio that a large denomination owned. This denomination was going to combine three small congregations into one new one and was selling the three buildings they owned. The building my friend was looking at was old and in need of repair and they could not afford much. Now in my opinion, and it is “my” opinion for sure, that building had been paid for by God and His people probably more than once and now they were asking another church to pay for it again...and top dollar. Why? Oh I know they needed to build another building so they were using the building from the sale to pay for that, but why? And if they had to sell, why not let the buying church set the price as to what they could afford? Wouldn’t that make sense? Well, it does to me and it happens.
Another friend of mine in a small community close by, their church building was on the market. It is old and works against them on many fronts, so they had an offer, which was really low. My comment to him was, why are you selling it anyway? God and His people have paid for that building probably four or five times...how many more times does He have to buy it? Well he heard me and ran it by their elders and they heard it, kind of. They did sell it but at the price the other church body could afford! They sold it for almost half of what they were asking, so they were quite generous I think. They did not give it away but a close second. A win/win if you ask me... On another occasion one of the young guys that used to come here and has since moved close to Columbus was looking for some sound equipment for his new church family and located what he needed on ebay. He made a very low offer and the guy on the other end accepted so they made contact with each other. Turns out the seller goes to a Vineyard Church in Milan, Mi. and David is in a Vineyard in Columbus...small world huh? So the seller says hey you guys can just have the stuff and they gave the equipment to the other church. David said something like, “It is like Bill says, God already paid for it why make Him pay for it again?” (I love to hear myself repeated) Now to top it off this is really like Jesus said where He said to love our enemies...Someone from near Ann Arbor was kind to someone from Columbus! Sweet! (Kidding)
Now, just so you know I am not crazy, if Walmart or Krogers came by and wanted the building and property, by all means sell it and get all you can. That is wisdom...but if another part of the body comes along and you are done with the building or the chairs or the equipment, consider giving it away. I am sure you did a stewardship campaign to raise funds to make the initial purchase or it was paid for with the tithes and offerings from the church family, so why make someone else do it again for the SAME STUFF? The building we are in could have been given to us, even thought there was a mortgage on it, and we could have paid the mortgage off. Instead it was sold to a middle guy and now we and the Y rent it...I won’t complain because we have a wonderful deal but why sell it in the first place, when there are churches out there with needs? Usually it is because we, as the Church, do not see ourselves as family but as competition or another consumer. One of the reasons we pray for another church family every week is we want everyone to know who comes to the Vineyard we are but a part of a much larger family that meets all over the city and they are friends and family not competition.
Another friend of mine (yes I do have friends) has a young church and it was actually sharing a building with an older congregation from the same denomination that needed the help financially. Well the older church decided to close and without even considering the young church they sold it to a cult like church and the young group had to move! What? The same denomination even and they could not work out a deal? What must God think? Maybe He really does not care about buildings, I would guess He does not...but He does care about His Church.
I have a dream...that one day we will stop asking God to pay for the same building over and over...one day we will not look at each other as competition but rather see the family resemblance in all those who call Jesus Lord. See I think God is a very generous God we resemble Him when we ourselves are generous. this will not be very popular with a lot of leaders but, hey I almost 60, I don’t think I care anymore!!! Barb and I so love the whole church body and desire to see it actually like each other...more to come on this subject.