Is it poor stewardship for churches to spend in excess on building cosmetics?

I have recently seen large fountain pools for baptistries, full marble bathrooms and elaborate indoor playgrounds in different churches which leads me to feel that these churches are poor stewards with their resources.  As a faithful thither, I have always took a stance that I should not attend a church that I can't give to with a joyful heart.

Clarify Share Report Asked January 13 2014 Mini Landon Hayes

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Seth3 Seth Freeman
I think like many things, it's going to come down to a case by case basis. For instance the playground - I know a local church that has a large, indoor playground. I also happen to know about 3 families that were searching for a local church that actually tried the church because they had small children and thought it was a sign that the church cared about their children's ministry. Yes, I realize that a playground doesn't exactly point a child to Christ, but it still shows that children are important to the church. Anyway, the point is that those 3 families are now very involved and growing spiritually in that church. So the playground actually serves as both a playground for kids and an initial draw for some families. The playground obviously doesn't nurture spiritual growth itself, but it serves its purpose as a tool to get some families in the door. So waste of money or not?

I think the issue is always going to be the heart behind the decision. Something that looks superficial to us may be very intimately personal and spiritually encouraging to another. We should be quick to listen and slow to judge in matters like these.

January 14 2014 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Johnnatta Giles Spirit Filled Christian
Honestly I have to say I feel this way about the way that people live now in general. I would say it is not anything wrong with trying to improve the church building. But I believe it is wasteful to get things that are not even needed. And I wouldnt worry about tithing to these churches. Because the tithe will always be to God. If you feel like your church is using the money wrongly I would not continue going there. We remodeled our upstairs for the kids ministry and they have a rock climbing wall up there for scripture games. They also have tvs for videos games and some really old arcade games to play while they wait to got to class or for their parents to come get them. 

When my church wants help from the body of believers to re do something in the church they always ask for a special offering for it. My church has been standing for 25 years and they wanted to re do the whole first floor of the church. So every month they would ask for a special offering for it. You could choose to continue to give your normal offering or choose to give for the remodeling or both. 

So it depends on the reasoning behind some things. Do we need a fountain pool to baptize people? No. Is it wrong to have a nice play ground for the kids? Not at all.

January 13 2014 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
There is no 'right or wrong' answer here based on the action, but motives do come into play. It boils down to "is this an act of worship to God"? or "is this an act to show off to the world"? There will also be many cases that are neutral. However, if spending is ‘in excess’, then there likely are misplaced priorities at some point along the chain.

There are many factors involved:

#1 The church building is not the "temple" of the Lord. We, as believers, are the temple of the Lord, individually (1st Cor 3:16) and corporately. Eph 4:14-16). While it might be tempting to decorate a church building like the old testament Temple, the priority is people. Is the building getting the focus while the people are poor or untaught? Is the building getting the focus while a church group down the street has no building to meet in at all?

#2 Were the resources given by believers as an offering specifically for cosmetic improvements? If the money was given ‘for the work of the church’ in general, then very little if any should be used to spruce up a building, compared to how much is spent building up believers, in missions and evangelism, in aiding poor believers, running ministries of the church, etc (Eph 4:11-13, Gal 2:8-10). If the money was specifically offered for the improvement of the church building, then this is fine, so long as the people were not bullied into giving. [I have actually seen this several times - believers told they have a lack of faith if they do not pledge to give towards a cosmetic improvement].

#3 Are believers able to contribute time/talent in addition to money? We all have been given various spiritual gifts, all for the purpose of building up the church (Ex 31:2-4, Ex 28:3, Ex 35:35, I Cor 12:1-11). Does the leadership ask for contribution of talent and time, or does it directly skip to hiring outside talent or labor? A group that relies on outside labor while ignoring the gifts of believers is not just wasting money, but is wasting wonderful opportunities for the spiritual growth of believers and the church.

#4 Are the improvements made out of respect and love for God, or are they being made to attract the world? The job of the church is to go out into the world and make disciples, who then become part of the church; it is not to pull unbelievers in and then hope to disciple them by osmosis (Matt 5:13-15).

#5 Is there a practical reason for an improvement, such as needing more space or repairing decay? Or, is the primary reason superficial, such as replacing functional seating with more 'modern' chairs for a hipper look? God does not care about appearances, He looks at the heart (I Sam 16:7).

#6 How much money/talent does the group have at their disposal? It is understandable that a church group in a wealthier area might end up with a nicer building than a village church out in the middle of nowhere, or a church in a third world country. In the early church, many believers met in the homes of wealthy widows. Other-times, they might meet at the riverside or in a market square. As such, some natural variation is to be expected. However, a group should not go beyond resources and accumulate great debt for cosmetic purposes, nor should a group be insistent that they must meet somewhere nice and comfortable. As Paul was content in want and in plenty, so we should be content to meet in the humblest of places or the grandest; wherever we find other believers gathered in Christ’s name (Phil 4:10-13, Matt 18:20).

#7 Are the believers vibrant and growing in spiritual maturity, or is the spiritual life of the church group dead or stagnant? It is not numbers, size, or grandeur that determines the health of a group of believers. It would be better to be persecuted and meeting in a cramped straw hut, but be faithful, than it would to be complacent and meeting in a palace. (Rev 2:8-11, Rev 3:1-3, Rev 3:14-18)

October 20 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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