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God & Christianity / Life

Dear Giant Church

Dear Giant Church

Dear Giant Church—

I want to come in, but I can’t see past the hypocrisy.

Driving to my local grocery store, I pass 3 gorgeous churches. Towering three stories high with large windows and a solid brick exterior.  The sun shining down casts a beautiful glowing light on the cross raised high in the air.

I’ve so often wanted to stop and ask, “Why is your church so big?”

It’s puzzling to see so many churches developing buildings with such finery.  Shouldn’t a place of worship, whether in an affluent, suburban, or metropolitan area, be similar in statue?

It’s obvious to an outsider that the congregation is extremely generous; but it’s also apparent the leadership responsible for delegating those donated funds missed the sermon (you know, the one on giving and helping thy neighbor)?

My local paper recently reported on a Megachurch in my area undergoing a $93 million dollar expansion project. This included shimmering stain glass and many more extravagant features for their members. It was paid for through funds provided by members, donors and a fundraising effort.

In a world with so many people needing help, how does the church find it essential to have such lavish amenities? In my area, it is extremely common to find a coffee shop and gift shop inside the church.  Most also have extensive and VERY expensive sound equipment.

At any point as a congregation, do you talk amongst yourselves and say “WHY DID THEY BUY THAT?”  Or for that matter, “I WANT MY MONEY BACK?”

My very lovely friend from college, whom I now keep in touch with primarily through Facebook, posted a video of the great work her Megachurch had done for the past year. Being optimistic, I clicked on the link; I spent the next three minutes watching a professionally created video of group baptisms in matching t-shirts, teens planting trees and an event in which they handed out coffee to the homeless on a cold day…

Truthfully, I can’t understand how this is enough.

If all churches dedicated themselves to being truly charitable, they couldn’t afford these luxuries NOR would they want to.

Greed within organized religion is one of the reasons I find it so hard to find my faith within those walls.  I want to see people practicing the words they preach and, to me, that starts with realizing there is a huge problem with how religious funds are being spent.

You have a right to ask your church where your donations are going, how much is being spent on salaries, programs, donations or supplying the new coffee shop in the lobby with restaurant quality appliances.

I am familiar with the alternating argument that these fineries are necessary to keep the flock coming back each week. I guess I have more faith in people than that. You don’t leave a church because of the lack of lattes on Sunday morning.

Obviously, not ALL churches are this way. There are some who give all that they have back into the community near and far. They see all people struggling with hardships as those worthy of help and strive to make a difference in any way they can.  It’s Churches like these, made up of strong leadership and an active mindful fellowship, that will bring people into faith.

This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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As a mom I am busy soaking up all the fun that twin two-year-olds have to offer. This requires I stay highly caffeinated and enjoy at least one uninterrupted evening of reality tv a week ... a few glasses of red wine don't hurt either. I am very thankful for the every day of the mundane life I get to call my own!!

2 Comments

  1. Opinions vary regarding the purpose of physical church structures. Some feel structures should be strictly utilitarian. Others feel worship facilities should reflect the awesomeness of the God being worshiped.

    The Bible provides an interesting example where the Israelites donated so much for the building of the tabernacle that they were finally told to stop because enough had already been given. We often see this contrasted by modern congregations who borrow so much money to build a facility that they struggle from month to month to meet the bills.

    Some congregations feel the necessity to employ modern marketing techniques to attract people to their facilities. But how often do we consider marketing techniques – though we may succumb to them – exaggerated or even deceptive? Do we want people to view our congregation in this way? For congregations, this may take various forms such as fancy facilities or bragging how we serve our communities. Remember how Jesus described the Pharisees as doing things in order to appear righteous?

    As you seem to be trying to point out, God does not see as man sees. Man often judges by outward appearance. God judges on the basis of motive and spirit. Thank God, however, that He is also forgiving, for we all fall short of what He desires.

  2. Isn’t it a little arrogant of you to say you can’t see past the “hypocrisy”? The real question is what purpose does a church serve? From my perspective a church is there to preach God’s word in truth and purity and rightly administer the sacraments. I go to church to eat the bread of life in the form of God’s word and Holy Communion to strengthen my faith. Just like your physical body needs food and drink to sustain it, your faith needs God’s word to sustain it.

    The church I attend is placed in a location of several wooded acres, an oasis in this big city in which I live.. As I enter the compound I feel myself relaxing already. When I enter the building and see the statues of Jesus and angels I feel a calmness come over me. Worshiping should be a foretaste of the feast to come and that is what the church provides. Helping the poor flows naturally from those of faith. How dare you call us hypocrites because we don’t give all of our money away?

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