Friday, May 18, 2007

Church For Sale

I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile, and Charles’ last post has reminded me to do it.

The congregation Amy and I attend is apparently located on some prime real estate. It is near a large shopping district, is a block away from a major state highway (which is also the route to Indianapolis) and sits on the corner of two busy city roads.

A few weeks ago the church was contacted by CVS. It turns out they are highly interested in this piece of property and want to buy. They are offering a very substantial amount of money. Part of the deal is that CVS agrees to buy the church another piece of land in the same area of town and build a brand new building, to our specifications, on top of it.

It’s really a very sweet deal, and from what I can tell, everyone is all for it. This is interesting to me, since many of our members would fall into the camp that the church shouldn’t have bake sales and yard sale, or in anyway take “outsiders” money for the church. And yet CVS (a company who will surely sell such unsavory items as booze and cigarettes and all kinds of unsavory magazines) flashes some big bills in front of our eyes, and suddenly everything is ok.


Jamison said...

Isnt it interesting indeed?

I guess if something similar happened in the 1st century, how would it be taken? Ceaser sees a bunch of Christians worshipping in a house, he offers them 100 gold coins to move so he can build a statue of himself on the land of the house, and he promises to let them worship in an old temple he built for himself that he no longer uses...

Would they take it? Well, probably, but I dont think CVS will throw your members into the lion arena for sport if you refuse to take the money.

lilsip said...

I see no problem with the sale myself, but I do see the problem in logic. I get frustrated with all the "hedges" some folks like to build around God's law. So many times those who would argue that liberal Christians are adding (allowances) to the Word are the very ones who add (new rules) to it.

Jamison said...

In the 1980s, at least at the church I went to, having a tattoo was a sin. I literally grew up beleiving a tattoo was sinful. The idea was that it was defacing the body God gave you. Makes sense I suppose.

Also, and we all know this one, DANCING is a sin. Yeah, I would imagine seeing a woman dance like a stripper is sinful if it makes you lust in your heart, but some back in the day would take it so far as to say a slow dance homecoming gig was sinful, and even ball room dancing...

Inventing sins, should be a book title.

lilsip said...

My mom mentioned how the Church in Acts sold everything they had so none of them would be in need- of course, if we follow that example to the letter we'll end up being communists. Oh well.

Chris said...

You're right Mat, but this is "different." Ha! No it isn't. It's all the same, selling your property, seeling on your property. Ha.
Ultimately, its about the big three:
ABC's of churches -
A - Attendance - if we have a new building people might come - MYTH
B - Buildings - If we have a new buidling that is nicer we can do better ministry and btw people might come - MYTH.
C - Contributions - If we have more money, we can pay our bills, do more programs and people might, you guessed it, come - MYTH.

In my short ministry days I have found it doesn't matter how much you change the building, if you don't change the people, nothing will help - building, money other.

The other struggle I have is what if, the building did what the early church did. Instead of just inviting they went out and lived among the people.
Oh we couldn't do that, those people are sinners. Oh and we are....?
I'll stop ranting...the thing is if the building is in such a good place I say the church should get out of the building, love their neighbors and guess what - yep, people might come.

kermitgrn said...

I laughed and then felt guilty, but there is sooooo much irony. I do have a follow-up question. Has anybody mentioned putting the money in a "Rain-day" fund yet?

Jonathan said...

I stumbled upon your site on the web. This is a very interesting argument whether or not to take outside money for the church. I fall somewhere in the middle.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about this pretty neat fundraising program called iBakeSale that could allow you to do both. It basically allows you to fundraise for any cause large or small simply by shopping at hundreds of retailers in their program. You can raise money by shopping and don't need to take money from outsiders. It's easy and free, which is something that busy people need instead of the time consuming bake sales and raffles. I'm sure you'd agree. Check it out if you get a chance.

Jamison said...

Rachel... communism, on paper, actually is a wonderful idea. The problem is when political leaders get involved or some people work less than others. Communism is GREAT if we owned 100 acres of land and all of us cafe-er lived on it and worked for the good of our families and each other... but as far as communism as a political idea, it is crap.

Jonathon... come back to this blog after you get out of the spamming business and get a real job.

X-orter said...

Well...I guess I'll add my measly two cents into the till in regards to church sales and offers from corporations for property.

The only thing that these subjects really have in common is that they both involve money and churches.

We are commanded to put aside our funds as we prosper (i.e., when we get paid, have proceeds from a sale, etc.) on the first day of each week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

Why can't we have a church bake sale or garage sale in which the proceeds go directly into the church's bank account? The answer is found in 2 Corinthians 8:12 and 9:7. We give God freewill offerings out of our love for Him. If we were to invite the public to buy goods or services from us in order to put money into the church's bank account, then the money that is received does not fall under the aforementioned criteria of Scripture but rather becomes just compensation for said goods and services. The public is not typically giving to God from a cheerful heart, willingly. In fact, some may be "giving a donation" in order to soothe a guilty conscience or to "score points" with God. Others may even give to make you go away! And then there are those that do not have the church in mind at all but through self-interest desire the object for sale or the service rendered.

When, on the other hand, you hold the sale independently of the church and put into it your hard work and then give to the church the proceeds of your efforts, then you are making a freewill offering akin to that which first century Christians gave. You didn't have to give the money to the church but you wanted to because you loved God and wanted to see the church prosper so that a missionary might be supported or some other program could be enacted.

In regards to a corporation wanting to buy a church's facilities and property, though, we are talking about something different entirely. What constitutes the church? It is, of course, the people. We, as the church, can meet anywhere and still be pleasing to God (cf. John 4:20-24). So then, it becomes incumbent of the congregation to decide what to do in that situation. As Chris pointed out, accepting the offer and moving to new facilities isn't going to bring about growth. (Unless the building was in such a "bad" location that either people could not find it or did not want to venture into the neighborhood. Either of those things being the case, though, a company like CVS isn't going to make an offer for the building and property.)

I could actually see where it could be beneficial to the church to accept the offer. If they could receive a facility that was relatively inexpensive but adequate to the needs of the church (e.g., a metal building with a nice brick facade) then the surplus from the sale could support a lot of good works and programs. It falls under the commendation given by the master to the unjust steward in Luke 16:8. Prudent foresight enables a congregation to use earthly resources to provide for a time when those resources might well fail us. In other words, 10 years from now, unseen circumstances could place this congregation in financial straits. Staying in the original location could possibly lead to a "closing" of the doors. A new location and building, with its surplus, sees to it that the congregation advances still further as God grants the time and opportunity.

Okay...the soapbox (or was it a pulpit) is vacated.

Mat Brewster said...

Good points. Although since this post is now pretty much buried, I suspect no one will read it (but me who gets an e-mail with every comment.)

Couple of quick questions for you: What is the difference in the church selling the building and the bakesale? Isnt CVS doing what you are saying the folks buying goods at the bakesale are doing? In that they aren't giving freely to the church but trying to gain a service, or in this case some property.

Maybe it is a technicality, but wouldn't the members having a sale on church property be the same as me giving my garage sale money to the church? The church is made up of members who could choose to sale their baked goods together and then give the profit to the church. Why does it matter if it happens on the property owned by the corporate church?

I think I do understand what you are saying, and in part agree. Sometimes though the details seem a bit silly to me.

Jamison said...

buried, yes.... but i always check for new comments :)

X-orter said...

I meant to respond a long time ago but I've been very busy.

It may sound like a technicality or playing with semantics but the difference in the latter scenario is that the church was approached by CVS and did not initiate the sale themselves.

I liken it to what Ben Thompson used to tell me. You have three doors. One door you know leads to heaven. The other two might do so, but, then again, they might not. Which door do you choose?

Hope all is going well in the Brewster clan.

Mat Brewster said...

Thanks Brent. We're doing well, is stressed and busy with all the packing and china preparing.

No hard feelings here or anything, you'll notice in the blog we often take different sides of an issue and argue it out. All for the sake of the argument and to gain understanding.

Certainly we should all choose the best door that we know will get us to heaven.

X-orter said...

Definitely. After all...we are to "test all things." A closed mind is certainly foreign to genuine Christianity as faith sometimes calls us to think "outside the box." I appreciated the discussion of the issue as it is one that my brother and I have undertaken in the past. The older I become, the more I realize the need for a personal faith and not the "faith of our fathers."

So glad to hear that things are going well. I hope God richly blesses you and your family as you prepare to share the Gospel in China.