Sell Your Church Buildings – part 24

A recent study shows that 51% of people in our churches do not know what Great Commission represents. They go to church fellowships to receive God’s blessings and healing but no one is helping them to see the bigger purpose of their redemption. They are unaware of how critical their personal role is in spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth. Source

“He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him”.

(NIV, John 7:18)

This is where things get a bit more serious. When you want to solve any problem, you must always begin with yourself. Are you part of the problem? Do you need to change? Before we can help others change, we must allow ourselves to be changed through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. If true change is not found in us, we cannot expect to see it come in others. We do not lead by example, Christ leads through changing us. We must begin to serve one another, submit to one another, agree with one another and die to our personal rights. We must begin with ourselves by following instructions explicitly, relinquishing our authority, and letting go of our hold on all material possessions. We must simply swallow our pride and do what we are told to do. If you are currently considered the number one leader or a subordinate leader and people are following you and looking up to you, then you will have to get down off the platform and allow the roles to function. Your circle will have to become the size of all the others within the larger circle who is Christ. No one in the circle will lord authority over another, and everyone will submit to one another out of reverence (knowing that he is a thousand story building) and fear of God (knowing that we are all on the first floor laying prostrate. And even if you truly want to convert to Christ’s leadership as supreme head, none if this will happen until you and your group decide to physically extend the kingdom of God outwardly. You will not make Christ your true and only head by keeping all these good things within your group. You will certainly not mature by keeping all these good things within the walls of your church building. You must begin to look for new disciples to teach submission, humility, serving, and obedience to Christ as the head. And this will take you farther and farther away from the walls of your church building. So far that it (your church building) will become irrelevant.

Leadership will not mature unless you and the body are physically extending his kingdom outward

If anyone in your group or congregation is turned inward, division will inevitably come because inwardness is selfishness. It is not concerned with others, especially others who do not know Christ. If your congregation was previously discipled to be inward you may have to start with new believers and disciple them from the beginning to be turned outward. A church turned inward is not following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is outside the walls of the church building looking to shine outwardly extending his body into the darkness where all the unsaved people are. When I refer to outward extension of the kingdom of God, I am literally saying that your disciples are going to make other disciples, and those disciples are going to make others, and so on. If we try to do discipleship with church buildings, we are limited. Our ability to do discipleship depends on the distance between the church building and the house of our disciples. It will only extend so far because we have to bring all our disciples under the roof of our church building for regular meetings. But if we do discipleship as Jesus taught us it will extend outwardly. Discipleship, if done correctly, is also exponential. First, there were 12, then there were 72 (Luke 10:1) then there were 120 (Acts 1:15) and then there were 500 (1 Corinthians 15:6). The exponential numbers do not follow a precise formula nor are the circumstances in these verses referring to precise exponential growth, but we do see that the disciples were increasing in number exponentially.

If you have twenty acres of land and two wild rabbits are allowed to procreate without predators on that land, in 15 years they will occupy the space of the entire twenty acres. Exponential growth will naturally extend farther outward occupying more geographical space. The war between the kingdom of heaven and the fallen angels is over geography. People have souls and those souls all live in this material world occupying some geographical space. If you make one disciple this year emphatically teaching them to make another disciple there will be two of you after one year. Take out your calculator and multiply yourself and your one other disciple by two, you will now have four disciples after your second year because you will also make another new disciple the second year and your first disciple will make another new disciple. After the third year, there will be eight of you. After the fourth year, there will be sixteen of you. If you keep multiplying, you will reach the population of the world in 30 years. This kind of growth will occupy all the physical space on the planet making the church building not only irrelevant but a hindrance. This kind of exponential growth will not happen as long as we limit our growth inward to the size of our structures. Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”. We Christians do have our predators. We have the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of riches and our enemy Satan takes no vacations. If that weren’t enough, we have the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a host of other heretical Christian sects are out there working hard at teaching the world false doctrines. Nevertheless, if you make disciples as Jesus told us to, your discipleship will occupy more and more geographical space. It will extend outward and it will be exponential. It has to because a Christ lead discipleship movement will continue to look for new disciples and that will take them to the next house, and then on to the next and to the next. It will also take them to the next village and then on to the next and to the next.

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come”

(NIV, Mark 1:38)

If you are doing discipleship as Jesus taught you will have fruit. Jesus’ ways work. He knows what he is doing. It is not his fault that the world is in such a mess. It is our fault. So if we will just obey him and let him lead the result will be exactly what Jesus promised when he said that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14). So if we continue to build a building, we will seriously limit the exponential growth and prolong the coming of the end of all things on this earth. We will be slowing down the fulfillment of the promise. You will have a smaller ministry if you do it the world’s way, even if you end up with a 30,000 member movement in 15 buildings.

Extend your group or congregation outward into houses and do discipleship. Get out on the street and start looking for new disciples. The body will have to learn to operate in a discipleship environment outside the church building. It will be a radical change, but new life and excitement will enter into the Christians’ lives. They will no longer have so much time to focus on their personal (inward) problems because they will be too busy discipling new believers. When the house fills up, the discipleship extends to the next house. Move all ministry and activity to houses. You will literally not have time to be quarreling over men, doctrine, finances, and interpersonal problems. You will also have to move the finances into the outward extension of the kingdom. Just let the disciples take care of them. One of the main reasons for the church building over the centuries was to bring the money into the building and thus into and into the hands of the leaders. This has not gone too well. Let the disciples take care of the financial distribution in the homes of the new disciples. If my brother has a need, I help him because he is near to me. I just help him. I don’t need a tax receipt. We don’t need tax receipts for what we do in the kingdom. Another reason why church activity (such as discipling new believers) has not extended much further than where the building was built, is because someone decided that they wanted a tax break for what they gave to the church. Christ nor his disciples were concerned about these things. Tax breaks are contrary to the spirit of New Testament Christianity. We have been through the reformation, now we need to go through the transformation. So once again, if you want to understand and operate under the true leadership of Jesus Christ, get ministering and discipling outside your buildings and let all the stuff within them diminish. Become mobile. Become outward. You will have less conflict and you will see true spiritual growth. Christ will be glorified and worshiped in our actions.

During Old Testament times, the people of God were for the most part mobile. The word tabernacle means “tent” which was a mobile shelter. It could be put up anywhere the people of God went. It had to be put up exactly according to God’s specific instructions. This was, in part, to show God’s unquestionable authority and to show that one had to come to God on his terms only. Later a static building was built. Then, during the New Testament times, we also see the expansion of the body outwardly and without building buildings and away from the temple. When Jesus’ physical body died, the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). He also prophesied that the temple was to be torn down and not one stone would not be left upon another (Matthew 24:1, 2: Luke 19:44). That was one of the most radical things he said to the worldly leadership. They were extremely troubled over this statement because their building was very important to them. It was very offensive to them because God told them to build it (Exodus 25:9). Christ came to build a new building one not made with the hands of men using stones. He came to build a new building made of people (1 Corinthians 3:9-16; 2 Corinthians 5:1-6)

Buildings have been added to our New Testament Christian way of life and have hindered the outward exponential extension of Christ-led discipleship. Our Christianity has changed because of our buildings. We built our buildings out of stone and in the end they have shaped us. A good portion of the geographical world has never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ because God’s people have not ventured farther than the reach of their buildings. The church building hinders us from extending the Gospel because we cannot go too far from its doors. Imagine a large room with a square tile floor. Each tile represents twenty-five miles. Your church building is in the corner square. You might drive twenty-five miles to make a disciple. Few will drive more than this. The location of the church building, therefore, hinders the extension of the Gospel. Think about this for a minute. A static church building has sent the message to the modern Christian that they don’t have to be personally involved in discipleship of others far away. I am going to great lengths to discuss the church buildings because church buildings and worldly church leadership authority structures are linked. They amplify one another’s greed for more power, prestige, and money. A big building requires a big personality. A big ministry requires a big building. We field missionaries have a saying, “big churches don’t give much, they didn’t get big giving their money away to missionaries”. Even if we needed their money, which we don’t, money has not finished the great commission. It is the western worldview that money is needed for everything. This idea has damaged more than it has done good. Jesus did not tell us to go into the all the world making it a better place by building schools, orphanages hospitals, and church buildings. He also did not tell us to go into all the world building buildings with his name on them. He told us to go into all the world and make his building using his building material making disciples. The church building and the leader are dependent upon one another. You won’t find one without the other. You won’t find many leaders without their church buildings. You won’t find many church buildings without their leaders. If Christ is now the leader, you will no longer need the material building. I understand that it will be very hard for you to transform into Christ’s leadership as head. It will be very difficult because most will not want to remove the building in the picture. If you are the number one leader or subordinate leaders, you will have a hard time making the change keeping your building in the picture. So just sell it.

Sell your church buildings

I take this very seriously. I am not playing games. I know that some will actually follow this advice. I am not going to apologize about this. I am not going to try to make it easier or soften the blow. It will do you good to sell your church building or buildings. If you have more than one, sell them all. Even if it were not for the benefit of moving into a Christ as head leadership model, I think the Christian movement has built enough buildings during its history. God does not need one more church building built. And if you sold yours, the Christian movement will not be affected in the slightest. It will matter not to God or Jesus Christ that there is one less church building in the world. Especially if it has Christ’s name on it. There are many advantages to selling your church building. Your leadership will be able to come under one head much more easily. You will begin to disciple people closer to their real-life problems, in their homes. You will be helping some lost souls get discipleship in an atmosphere that they are comfortable with. The sale of your building will have quite an impact once you give the proceeds to the community. You will be able to care for widows and orphans. I was reading about seeker-sensitive church buildings and was surprised to find out that this idea has not gone too well. Why not go out and seek sinners and be sensitive to them in their homes. Sell your seeker-sensitive church buildings too. You won’t have to be sensitive to the seekers once you are in their homes.

Imagine for a moment what would happen if large church building movements and denominations sold all their buildings and gave the proceeds to impact the community and to extend exponential outward discipleship in houses. It would change the world. Without the building, you don’t need the leaders, Christ becomes the leader. Without the buildings, we don’t need a bank account, budget, loans, and paid personnel because now you are in houses. You don’t need to worry about becoming stagnant and having to look for a new program to keep people interested in coming to your building, because you no longer have a building, you are in houses. Houses that are already paid for, maintained, and existing everywhere, well, maybe not paid for. If a large church building-based movement sold all its buildings, imagine the impact it would have helping all the members pay off their houses. Those members would now have more freedom to do discipleship. If the number one leaders and sub-leaders are left to the decisions of how the money from the sale of the church building is spent, you might have to let them keep their buildings and you go and make disciples on your own. If you think that what I am saying is over-exaggerated or extreme, look at what Jesus said. Here are some scriptures.

“Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need”.

(NIV, Acts 2:45)

There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need” (NIV, Acts 4:34, 35).

If you have money, distribute it to anyone who has need. If a person decided to sell his or her house, distribute the money to every and all needs. Take a look around your city and you will see church building after church building. Try to comprehend the monetary worth of all those buildings. Try to imagine all the poor and homeless people that could be fed and taken care of. Stop thinking about your church building for a moment and try to imagine how many children in the cancer ward could be helped if the body of Christ sold their buildings and gave the money to research. If we sell our church buildings, there will be no needy persons among you when it is all over and done. You will see that God is faithful and just and that it will all even out. Maybe if you sell one of your houses to help another person pay off their house, they too might sell it so that someone else has no need. Money is not a necessity for the outward exponential extension of the Gospel. Money is not important in the kingdom of God. This is why money was not an issue for the first church. They just sold their possessions when a member of the body had a need. Leadership requires being a part of the body of Christ. According to the teaching of the New Testament, this includes not claiming that any possessions are our own. Try to imagine what the world would be like if no Christian claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. If you are afraid that selling your possessions is going to stop the discipleship movement because you will no longer have money, then you don’t understand Christ’s teaching (Matthew 19:21; Mark 10:21) Jesus had no problem telling people to sell all their possessions. All possession includes the home. Jesus sent his disciples without money (Matthew 10:9; Luke 10:4; 12:32, 33; 18:22; ). What is more important to you? True spiritual growth or inward growth inside the walls of the church building?

You can start by reducing spending inside the church building while you are looking for a buyer. Salaries paid to staff can also be reduced during the time it takes to sell the building. You may have to drastically lower the price in order to sell it. Unfortunately, the church building can’t be used for much else. They are impractical to most secular organizations and businesses. All offerings into the church building bank account can be redirected toward house discipleship. Once the church building is sold, paid salaries can be stopped altogether (John 10:12-13). The staff will be taken care of just like all the rest of the body. Remember that no needy persons will be among you if we all submit to one another, humble ourselves and serve having equal concern for each other. All this may have frustrated or even angered you, but the purpose of this book is for the body to transform its leadership to come fully under the headship of Jesus Christ. How important do you think this is? This simple act of selling a church building could be the point where your congregation is liberated into a group of people who are truly bearing much fruit. Or it could be the point where they waver and remain in the worldly leadership structure. You should at least pray about it and present it to the believers.

Look at it from this perspective: a very small percentage of a church’s yearly budget goes to community outreach or to missions or to discipling new believers. Most of a church’s budget is for bills to keep the building running, additions to the building and to pay salaries to leaders and staff. Other finances are used for things that the second and third world believers would call unnecessary if not frivolous. But those are top priorities in today’s modern church building. But let me tell you, this has not worked out too well. It has not worked out very well for the extension of God’s kingdom and it has not even worked out well for men’s kingdoms. Think of all the lost hours debating over how the church building money is going to be spent. I refer to the money for the building and money for the leaders. The building needs the leader so that the building can keep the lights on. The leaders need the building so that he can keep his lights on, or so he thinks. If the leaders are not to be leading according to the message of this book, then there is no need for the building. If the leaders really don’t need a building then the body is to take care of their leaders (1 Timothy 5:17). Buildings, finances, leaders, and doctrine are interrelated and feed on the need for one another. They create a vicious cycle of immaturity, pettiness, and squabbling over issues. They waist time keeping us from extending the kingdom outward exponentially into the darkness.