The Embedded Church – The Building Part II
In his book, 10 Tsunamis Impacting Ministries: How Do We Survive What’s Coming?, Daniel Cook asks a couple provocative questions. “What would happen to our ministries if we cut out the mortgages, reduce the overhead expenses of our buildings by two-thirds or more, and use our buildings seven days a week? What would happen if we make a real estate investment which allows us to interact with lots of people, employ persons from within our ministries and gain sustainable income in the process?”
These are not new thoughts for me. For several years now, I have been giving thought to the present model of church housing. Our American model is not a model you would find in Scripture…which does not mean that it is right or wrong. But it does mean that it could and should be questioned, which is exactly what Daniel Cook has done in his book.
Our model looks like this. We have a group of Christ-followers who come together and form a church. At some point, if this group is deemed successful, the American model says that they must purchase their own building. In a short amount of time, they discover that fifty percent of their tithe money goes to staffing, thirty-five percent goes to building, ten percent goes to missions and the rest, a whopping five percent is used for ministry! (You can mix those numbers around several different ways, but the ministry number is always the lowest.) Millennials have a field day with these kinds of statistics!
Since there is no Biblical standard for a church building, let me throw out a couple of ideas that are radical, yet promising.
- Embed the church into the community. Find out what the community needs and find a way to build something that is of benefit to the community. (I will share a couple ideas below.)
- Make money. Instead of spending ministry money on buildings, what if you actually make money! There is no Scriptural or governmental law against this, and it will allow you to use tithe money for ministry.
- Hire People. What if you are able to hire people and start micro-businesses for people who are in need.
- Reach more people with the gospel of Christ. With an embedded church, you will meet people who will never come to your church…or so they think. But they are actually walking into your church every day and do not realize it is a church!
Let me give you some ideas to get your creative juices flowing…
- Build a hotel with a conference center – the church and kids ministry meets in the conference center, and the church has an opportunity to offer jobs and meet hundreds of new people each week.
- Build a Café – a modern day well – a third place venue with meeting room and kids space
- Build a child care center – used as a church on weekends with great kids’ space
- Build an event center or performing arts center – give your community a place to meet for concerts, plays, etc., and the church has an amazing meeting place!
- Build an entrepreneurial development center for new business – another great meeting place
The list goes on and on. Possibilities are endless. But the idea is to build buildings as a tool to impact a community while pouring funds into ministry, not mortar.
June 22, 2018 @ 9:35 am
Wow! This resonates in many ways. Nay-sayers might argue that the “church” should not get involved in business, but for decades churches have survived by using business operation models. Further, Paul monetized his ministry making tents. The same way we need the influence of true Christians to serve in local, state, and federal governments, we need influential Christians in strategic businesses.
Taken a step more…Can you imagine a Chik-fil-A or Hobby Lobby version of a hotel and coffee shop chain? Chains that only build and operate with these types of church ministries as their ultimate objectives? Both of these businesses have proven sustainability despite the socio-culture of our time.
Lest anyone argue that such a model might be inconsistent with keeping the Sabbath holy – as in no work- , remember, church leaders and staff work on the Sabbath, typically taking a day of rest on an alternate day of the week.
June 22, 2018 @ 7:02 pm
Exciting ideas! Thank you Carol. You’ve given me something more to think about.
June 23, 2018 @ 5:47 am
Great blog Greg!!! We need to figure out a way to get churches with buildings & resources to embrace this idea. It’s super missional, besides being practical. Keep up the great work & writing. Rob
June 23, 2018 @ 8:05 am
That is Kingdom thinking Greg. Another great book on this is by Mark Deymaz “DISRUPTION” I know of a church that spend $ 40 million on a Building and the church is have empty. Not wise use of the offering that people give sacrificially to the LORD.
Keep your thoughts going. Helmut
June 23, 2018 @ 9:15 am
Great stuff Greg. A friend was saying yesterday that Leesburg could use another car wash (given Station is always so crowded) — mission oriented car wash and cafe!
June 24, 2018 @ 6:00 am
OK, so not all ideas are…
June 26, 2018 @ 10:02 pm
Greg, love the thinking that goes along with we are the church not a building so we are to be in the world in every way we can yet carry the very life of God into every crevice of culture. Both Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 proclaims clearly that the Kingdom of God ( which is in us by the way!) will be where people will stream to in order to find out who God is and how He is when they discover a people who are not embedded in a church building but embedded in every facet of life holding out the bread of true life. Come on! You are getting me excited!