Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Beautiful Place vs. Helping The Needy

In my theology class the other day, our professor asked us what we thought the church should spend their money on: an esthetically pleasing sanctuary which will draw people closer to God or put that money towards the poor/needy/hurting who are in the community and world. I think he leaned towards not ignoring the poor but he thought that money spent on a beautiful church that was designed and decorated by Spirit gifted artisans was also something worthy of our investment. He gets annoyed by plain and ugly rooms/churches that do nothing to life one's Spirit towards God. Keep in mind he comes from an Anglican tradition which has built some of the most beautiful churches in the Protestant world (one of which we specifically chose to get married in - All Saints Anglican Church here in Winnipeg). So . . . what do you think?

May Light increase!


Jay Boaz said...

I think you could argue this in circles and circles. On the one hand, you want people to feel inspired by their church, and therefore the congregation may be larger, enhancing your source of funds, some of which can be used to help people.

On the other hand, if no money is spent on the actual church, it will be that much harder to attract a congregation, thus greatly diminishing your source of funds to help people.

I think in the end, like so many things, it comes down to finding a balance. I think that balance will be different from church to church, but that's the way I see it (in a short summation, anyway).


Mark said...

Jay: When I asked Riker this morning he said "I think that taking care of others is more important." Then he paused and said "Of course that other thing is important sometimes too." It appears the boy agrees with you.

Personally, I think that church buildings are a nice luxury but are optional and not really necessary for the church to achieve it's mission. The church is first and foremost a community (not a building). I can't recall anywhere in the New Testament where people were asked to do anything with a building - but there are lots of places where Christ-followers are commanded to take care of those around us: the poor, the needy, orphans, widows, the downhearted, etc.

Anonymous said...

i think if you need a a beautiful church to draw you closer to God, theres something wrong with that and you need to change the way you worship and draw close to him. the building shouldnt have anything to do with it.

Lifelines said...

Interesting. On the one hand I think of Christians that are persecuted, meeting together in barns, out in the woods, in secret rooms, etc. I don't think aesthetics would matter to them at all, and their worship is probably more pure than most. On the other hand, in our culture, sometimes we need to do things to draw people in, especially young people. Quality audio-visual equipment, a contemporary feel and look, etc.. might be worth investing in--the ultimate goal to have others meet Jesus. Our church is heading in this direction, and I'm interested to see what becomes of it all.

Mark said...

I don't think that it's so much about whether someone "needs" a beautiful building to draw them closer to God but how much resources should be attached to it. Whether or not a beautiful building draws one closer to God is just as inconsequential as whether music or creation does - it's not a maturity issue. My whole question is at its core a stewardship issue. How much of our funds should we allocate? Does it depend on how many needy people there are? Or how deep their needs are?

It seems like to me we build churches with the best of motives but they often become a stumbling block to us.