Building programs in local churches can be a great blessing or a great hurdle and even a deterrent to God’svision for a congregation, if the timing is not right. Buildings are just tools to help us accomplish the work of God’s Kingdom. Sometimes we can get sidetracked into thinking we have accomplished much for God if we build a new building, but that can only be true if the “Great Commission Work” is demanding the need for that building. To answer the question, “When to Build?” let’s consider three things: The Mission, The Momentum, and The Money.
We all know the mission of any local church should be to evangelize, cooperating with Jesus in seeking and saving the lost, and then to disciple those we reach. When we excel in the mission of the church, allowing the Holy Spirit to use the local body of believers to lead others to Christ that will create a need for a church building or a bigger building. When a new congregation is being formed, renting a facility is a good and common practice. However in our society there seems to come a time when a new church needs its own building, designed to meet the unique needs of a church and also to make a statement to the city or town where the church is located that “we are here to stay.” Just having a need for a building is not enough. There also must be unity within the congregation so that a great majority are on board for the building program. Unity is developed by the pastor and his leadership team through the patient sharing of the God-given vision for the future of the church. Laying out steps that must be taken to see a building program through is very helpful in the process and should be done in baby steps at first.
Upward momentum in numerical growth is important when preparing for a building program. Spiritual excitement created by wonderful spiritual experiences in the church services will help with numerical growth and is a great momentum producer for the faithful members. Those experiences should be augmented by great balanced Bible teaching. This produces strong, mature, believers who can grasp the future vision of the on-going work. In other words, for a successful building program, the priority of the church should not be the “building program”, but should be the spiritual vitality of the people. The old saying, “strike while the iron is hot” is appropriate here. Churches go through cycles just like people do. When the mission and the momentum come together, the iron is getting hot.
Of course, money is a greatly needed commodity when building. Long before it is time to build, the pastor should lead his people who have caught the vision of the future to begin giving to a building fund. Some will see the need long before others and begin to give. The money in a building fund will be a great encouragement to everyone when the momentum comes and the vision spreads among the people. A plan to raise money – a capital stewardship campaign – is usually an integral part of a building program. If the building is to be completed, there must be a plan to have enough money to finish. An unfinished building because of insufficient funds can cause reverse momentum. Sacrifice is a strong but needed work when it comes to raising funds and the pastor must be willing to lead by example in sacrificial giving. “Not equal giving but equal sacrifice” is a good slogan to help all be involved regardless of their income. In a fund-raising campaign the pastor and building committee members and/or members of the church board must be able to answer questions and face some opposition while keeping a sweet spirit. Leaders must stay prayed up and keep the church services led by the Holy Spirit and Christ-centered, filled with love and compassion for people.
Some congregations should build because of a need to change locations for varied reasons. Others may need to build because their buildings are worn out and in need of repair and a new building is the best option. Regardless of the need for a new church building, the “mission” being fulfilled will bring the “momentum” needed to raise the “money” to get the job done.
Article by Pastor Eddie Lee, Harvest Christian Center, El Paso, Texas. firstname.lastname@example.org