The Inevitable Conversation

I read an article today about a church in Tampa, Florida that made me think about some new possibilities for ministry for the local church. I don’t think I’m alone in this. It’s inevitable  The local church if it hasn’t already, will have the talk really soon about the empty unused space on our church campuses that we are funding throughout the week. What do we do with all of the empty space we have? What do we do with the classrooms? What do we do with the offices? What do we do with all of the extra space that we have on any given day of the week and are we being good stewards of our church buildings by letting them remain empty and collect dust throughout the week? Of course the building is always open on Sunday. Or is it? It’s going to require some intentionality on our part as the local church to begin asking the hard questions about what it means to be called by God to the neighborhoods our buildings reside in?

It really should begin to open up some divine opportunities for dialogue as opposed to the fear of, “What are we going to do with our buildings that we can’t afford anymore?” Some local churches have been blessed in that their only real major expenses are paying their pastor full-time and the day to day expenses of running a small church. Their buildings are paid for. It could mean some extra income in helping maintain a fulltime pastor. Other churches that were once viable and who were the big kids in town are now faced with the day to day challenges of loving the neighborhood and paying utilities for an empty church campus. Unfortunately, the church building always wins and ministry suffers. My fear is that we’re afraid to talk about this. Lots of churches are slowly moving to becoming property management companies. It seems to be the new fad now. I’m okay with this only if the conversation about shared ministry becomes a reality with whoever becomes our tenants.

What I do know is that whether our churches are large or small or even in decline, we need to figure out some way of partnering up with others in our cities who are doing kingdom work and that are transforming lives in the name of Jesus. We need to find other folks who have the same heart for wanting to share the Gospel and still doing something that will meet the needs of the neighborhood. What if the lights were on every night at the church and the church parking lot actually had cars in it every day and every night? What would this do for the existing church and what if it was one way in helping the local church move from death to life again? Isn’t that what Easter’s about?

The one answer that keeps coming back at me?

It might mean falling in love again not just with Jesus…

But with our neighborhood.

What if?


5 thoughts on “The Inevitable Conversation

  1. I think that the more intentional the better. This is a chance for you as a leader to not create space for another open ended conversation, but choose a target. Fall in love with something and sell that vision. There’s a post on my blog (“How To See And Share Vision”) with a great vision oriented video on it.

    Target something that will bring in the income you need to fund full time employment. Go get them, bring them in, bring session along.

    The building can’t compete with vision, but it will kick “open ended” ever time!

    Love you, G!

  2. When I pastored a church in West Sacramento, we had a number of Girl Scout groups, an AA group, and a Cub Scout den meeting in our unused rooms. We were also a polling place and a place for homeschoolers to take required standardized exams.

    For most groups we charged… NOTHING! We did it to serve and connect with the community. We invited all the groups using our space to our outreach events and, even all-church cleaning days

    And guess what – before too long Girl Scouts were donating cookues for coffee hour, volunteering at events, coming to the scrapbooking group… and then coming on Sundays to see who we were and why we were so generous.

    A lot of young families became part of the church – insome cases coming to Christ in the process – because of our building ministry. Unfortunately, as the church became more active, we found it mire difficult to offer space to the new groups that needed a place to meet. If you have a lit of empty space, you could have an even more powerful building ministry! I recommend that you give it freely, generously, and cheerfully. God will make sure you can afford to be generous (2 Cor. 9), for God loves a cheerful giver!

    Stretching for the Kingdom with you,

    Steve, the “Undercover Pastor”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s