Here is the Church, here is the steeple, open the doors…

ImageWe all say that the church is the people, that being said, my church spends more than half of its budget on the building. On the one hand, no one objects to the money that is needed to heat, repair and maintain our building. On the other, I’m rather uncomfortable with this use of our money.

demotivational poster CHURCH

If the church is about people, then we really shouldn’t be spending so much on the building. Having committed now to put forward 10% of the offerings we receive towards mission, I find this commitment both inspiring and sad. Are we really only putting 10% of our money in the community? Are we really going to worry about every dime we spend, or can we figure if we have the  money that means that God wants us to do it.


I don’t know if I believe in balanced budgets or buildings. I do believe in fulfill our responsibilities though (i.e. paying contracts, keeping buildings safe, not overspending and blaming our lack of money on God or each other). I know that’s probably an auxi moron but there we go. I am also aware that my church provides important community space, but I also am aware that we are in the Landlord business–and I really don’t feel like this is the kind of ministry I wish to be doing….

Here’s what I do think.

I think we should be CHURCH BUILDING not just a church building. I think the church needs to be located at the center of the community, and if the people don’t come to us, we should follow Jesus’s example and go to where the people are.

So what should we do? Sell the building? Become nomads? Be more creative with our uses of space? Where are we the most church? How can we hit the streets more? I am especially struggling with this as many churches are closing and many church buildings are empty or for sale–and what really gets me is the community, those who live near the church and yet never attend it, sees this loss as sad. What is it with the associations we have with “the Church” as opposed or in conjunction with “the Church Building”

I am still struggling to find the answers to these questions. Anyone else have thoughts?????

Author: katyandtheword

Pastor Katy has enjoyed ministry at New Covenant since 2010, where the church has solidified its community focus. Prior to that she studied both Theology and Christian Formation at Princeton Theological Seminary. She also served as an Assistant Chaplain at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and as the Christian Educational Coordinator at Bethany Presbyterian at Bloomfield, NJ. She is an writer and is published in Enfleshed, Sermonsuite, Presbyterian's today and Outlook. She writes prayers, liturgy, poems and public theology and is pursuing her doctorate in ministry in Creative Write and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She enjoys working within and connecting to the community, is known to laugh a lot during service, and tells as many stories as possible. Pastor Katy loves reading Science Fiction and Fantasy, theater, arts and crafts, music, playing with children and sunshine, and continues to try to be as (w)holistically Christian as possible. "Publisher after publisher turned down A Wrinkle in Time," L'Engle wrote, "because it deals overtly with the problem of evil, and it was too difficult for children, and was it a children's or an adult's book, anyhow?" The next year it won the prestigious John Newbery Medal. Tolkien states in the foreword to The Lord of the Rings that he disliked allegories and that the story was not one.[66] Instead he preferred what he termed "applicability", the freedom of the reader to interpret the work in the light of his or her own life and times.

6 thoughts on “Here is the Church, here is the steeple, open the doors…”

  1. It is very hard to break free from the “tradition of the elders” , and to do something contrary to what you have been taught is “sin”, in a sense but only to us. Jesus, on the other hand. challenged the Pharisees of His day and chided them for negating the word of God by the ,”traditions of the elders”. I know what you mean about the 1950’s mentality. Old habits and ways die slowly. New wine is not as preferred as the old, however, new wine is exactly is what is being poured out and it will not be contained in old wine skins. What the Lord is doing, at least from what I am seeing is a new (old) thing in that He is returning the church to its first century roots.

  2. Micro inch by micro inch…we change. After constructing a conservative budget and wrangling to meet it, I, too questioned the building expense. I’m coming to the conclusion that a building is a necessary base of operation, but when it becomes the whole of the focus, then something needs to change. I wish I had the complete answer, but I’m thrilled to find other people raising the same questions and looking for solutions.

    1. I think this is a big question everywhere–in some ways “someone” has to own the building, and ours is such that I’m glad that someone does own it, I’m just not so sure if I want it to be us 😉 Also, I think that most of our budget should be spent on the community, not on the building. But then? I don’t know. Maybe renting, maybe meeting in public places, maybe co-ownership (although that would be difficult too)…I always think its weird too that nonreligious people are sad when churches close. What’s that about? I think we’re missing something there too….

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