Buildings: Do Churches Really Need Them?
Two pastors debate the merits of church buildings.

An interesting debate between Pastor Dan Kimball and Ken Eastburn, a leader of a house church network in Orange County, California, began this month on Out of Ur, the blog of our sister publication Leadership Journal.

On December 2, Kimball wrote a piece entitled, "I Was Wrong About Church Buildings." In it, he discusses his journey as a church planter during the past eight years, and his gradual realization that church buildings can, in fact, enhance and advance ministry, not just drain resources.

Two weeks later, Eastburn published a response. Here's a quick highlight of what Eastburn wrote:

"I am writing this because the subject of the necessity of buildings is a crucial topic to discuss all across the Church. You do indeed describe good uses for buildings … but what is good, may not be best – either for your church or for the Body of Christ worldwide. Allow me to explain. After you listed good uses of both your church's building and others' (i.e. Compassion International), you made this statement:

'These missional opportunities would not be possible without a building.'

There are three reasons why I think you're mistaken."

Eastburn then goes on to say:

"Churches around the world manage to be missional, make disciples, and spread the good news, without any building whatsoever. Even more, they are doing it better than churches in the West with buildings. You see, it is not buildings that create a consumer-mentality, it is just the opposite. It is our consumer-mentality that causes us to think we need buildings. Buildings can be great tools, but the Church gets by…no, the Church thrives … every day without them."

In Your Church's 2009 Church Budget Priorities Survey, buildings are the second-biggest expense for most churches, trailing only staff expenses. Given Kimball and Eastburn's discussion, are buildings one of the best uses of church resources–or not?

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations

Comments

Displaying 1–1 of 1 comments

George Ewald

January 12, 2010  9:24am

I believe there is room for both streams of thought depending on the form of ministry. Also is it really any different in the church world than in the secular when it comes to being an owner not a loaner. If we drop all building use and go with a house church model then obviously this question is mute but if you are renting or leasing then is it really good use of the Lords finance to watch it go down the drain as rent with nothing in return? is that not like burying the talents? Our church paid off its mortgage some years ago and it allowed us to do ministry effectively even during lean years as our town was affected with shutdowns and layoffs. Having purchased the building and The frugal approach of paying that mortgage down allowed that to happen.

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