To Build or not to Build

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : September 12, 2004

I ran accross a post by Jordon Cooper concerning the perils inherent in churches moving into permanent facilities. In it, Mr. Cooper writes:

Maybe renting out Sunday morning space and then looking at some small office space is a better long term instead of just short term strategy for a lot of congregations.

I think renting space for gatherings and having an office if needed are great–not just because of the lower costs, but for sake of mission. Few things institutionalize like having a building of your own. It is hard to OUTreach when ministry is centered around a building. At Missio Dei, we’ve decided to rent space unless having a building serves our outreach efforts–not merely because it will serve our gathering times. I know that many people consider their gatherings to be outreach, but that is part of the overall problem, in my estimation. Using a gathering as outreach is ok, but it shouldn’t be your primary form of outreach, in my quasi-humble opinion.

Since Missio Dei emphasizes house gatherings, I think renting space on Sundays can also help make homes more of a unifying building. If people never feel completely at “home” in your Sunday meeting space, but do in house gatherings, it brings added emphasis to house meetings.

Mark Van Steenwyk is the general editor of Jesus Manifesto. He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.

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    My church is currently in the process of buying a building (we rent right now), and everyone seems to think it's a great idea. When my friend and I raised some questions about it- such as mission, gentrification, and use of church resources, we got looked at like we were crazy, and then ignored, and then seen as divisive. It's been hard because the vote went through, the new building will be purchased, and the church is becoming more and more of an institution and less and less of a movement. I mourn for it sometimes. I know you wrote this post forever ago, but thanks for it.


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