The early church did not own or build buildings and grew quite well without them. However, there are many practical reasons a building can be helpful to a local church. Each local congregation must prayerfully consider both the motivations and reasons behind its desire to build and seek to honor God through any construction project. Following are some things for a church to consider during this process.
How can a church know the right time to build a new building?
First, a new church building could be a good choice when the cost to build is less than the cost to continue renting facilities. When a church reaches several hundred people or more each week, the cost of renting facilities and the many hours to set up temporary rooms and staging will eventually reach a cost that is likely higher than owning a building. One good way to determine the right time to build, then, is to evaluate at what point will owning be more financially beneficial than renting? This could then be a choice based on good stewardship.
Second, how would a new church building be viewed in your community? In some cultures, people are highly unlikely to attend a new church unless it has its own building. In other cultures, investing a large amount of money in a building is seen as wasteful. A local congregation must consider whether a building would help or hurt in terms of better impacting a local community. This also includes what kind of building to construct.
Third, is God providing providential circumstances that make it clear it is time to construct a new building? Sometimes the donation of land by a church member or some other unplanned event opens the door to discussing new construction. A partnership with a Christian school or other organization may also make construction or renovation timely to discuss.
Fourth, ask how the new building will help in better fulfilling the Great Commission. If the goal of the church is to honor God and make disciples, how will a new building help make disciples? Evaluating potential construction against the church's purpose can help better determine whether building is better than not building.
Fifth, no building should take place without considerable prayer and planning by many people in the congregation. Almost any major construction project will take a year or more and will impact every member of the church. It is important, therefore, to involve many church members and involve much prayer and practical planning steps before moving forward.
If some of these considerations clearly indicate a new building is the best future move, church leaders can move forward in greater confidence in presenting ideas to the congregation in order to better make disciples, impact the community, be good stewards, and follow God's will.
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