Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Facilities -

The Church Facility speaks to the congregation and the community! Healthy congregations provide appropriate, well maintained, and clean physical facilities for their constituents. When God works among a group of people, a resulting physical representation of that spiritual reality is appropriate and important.

Theologians and practitioners are not always in agreement about whether a church should be in the business of building physical facilities. We recognize that the early church did not have buildings of their own for the first 150-200 years. They used the temple and private homes as meeting places. We do believe there needs to be faith coupled with wisdom. There needs to be balance in the energy used and moneys spent for spiritual life, spiritual community, ministries, evangelism, missions, and leadership, staffing, and buildings. This can and will be a continued juggling act and faith walk for the local leadership.

In this month’s article we would like to explore four Biblical Building projects and six basic principles which might guide and direct local church leadership.

In the Scriptures we find four building projects. These are the building of the tabernacle in Exodus 35-40, the building of the temple in I Chronicles 22-29, the reconstruction of the temple in Ezra 3-6 and the rebuilding of the wall in Nehemiah 1-6.

Biblical principles derived from four building projects. I believe these principles are applicable to new construction as well as remodeling and “makeovers”. You may want to read through the above texts in conjunction with this article.

There will be God-directed priorities during the building project. We must find and work within the confines of God’s direction. We believe God commanded the building projects. He initiated them. What a wonderful thought that the lord speaks and directs during the improvement and development of the worship center. The local leadership was wholeheartedly in favor of and supportive of the building projects. When undertaking a building project, whether large of small, it is imperative that a pastor is not going it alone. The spiritual tide of the people seemed to increase during the building projects. During construction and building there seems to be a parallel lift in the heart and spirit of the people!

There are God directed preparations for the building project. God is a God of foresight and preparation. In the Thompson Chain reference Bible there is a section titled “Preparation Proceeds Blessing”. This is so true of us and the God we serve. The people owned the projects. What a wonderful thing when God works in the hearts and lives of people and they take ownership of the project. I personally have fond memories of several building projects we led in which people in the church took ownership and engaged in! The people prepared for opposition and miraculous deliverance during the building projects. It is not uncommon in the midst of building or remodeling for the enemy to lift tensions, conflict, and disagreements. People who are sensitive to the Spirit will rise to the occasion and prepare spiritually as well as physically for this opposition. This opposition gives opportunity for great victory. This past week I was talking with my son, and he recounted to me a story of one of the building projects we engaged in during a cold Ohio winter. It was tough, but people rose to the occasion and testimonies of victory were heard throughout the church!! The people asked for the favor of God to be on them and their leaders during the projects.

There are God directed ways to plan for the building project. When preparing for a building project the scriptures indicate that the leadership withdrew to receive the building and fundraising plans. These plans were operative and functional. We also see that the people were involved in the planning and preparation. Building projects are so much better when team is involved. Together Everyone Accomplishes More!

There are God-directed ways of presenting gifts. God is able to direct and speak to people in such a way that they are able to give from their resources to the building projects. All gifts must be given freely and voluntarily. We should never use coercion or manipulation. We need to plan in such a way that if there is a debt incurred that this long-term debt will not disrupt the present ministry. Too many times a building is built and that which it was built for cannot be done due to the financial strain of the new debt and maintenance. The provision of a building must be a means to a greater ministry.

There is a process in the presentation of the gifts. Begin gathering funds before the actual building begins. Don’t wait until the last minute. Plan ahead. Whether you use an outside firm, or choose to raise the funds in house, think through, lead, and guide the process. Encourage the Leadership team to lead the way. Staff, board, and ministry leaders should disclose their gifts. This sends a positive message to the congregation that will have a ripple or even tide effect! People will then offer their gifts willingly.

God directed praise, worship, and prayer must accompany the building process. Allow Praise and Worship to be part and parcel of every step! Let Praise and Worship be a part in the planning of the building. Let Praise and Worship be a significant part of the presentation of the gifts. When you’re doing the ground breaking and laying the foundation, Praise the Lord! Include Praise and Worship in the ribbon cutting and the dedication of the temple.

There are God directed restrictions during the building process. The current spiritual leadership must maintain oversight throughout the building project. Whether you choose to have outside or inside architects and contractors there is still a need the current spiritual leadership to provide oversight. When walking through a building project as would be true with any church endeavor, receive only enough money for the project, and then stop the giving. Make sure that integrity is exercised in the receiving and use of funds

Make Today Count!!