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.