Friday, September 21, 2007


At CTK 95% of our worship services take place in rented facilities. This is opposite the traditional church, where 95% of worship services happen in owned facilities. Why do we go against the flow? One of the reasons is financial. It cost much less to rent facilities one day a week, than to own them seven days a week. This frees up more resources for ministry and outreach. But probably the bigger reason is philosophical. Buildings can get in the way. Buildings end up being the focus of a lot of attention (instead of people). In the process, buildings say something about where and when ministry happens, that is contrary to the "real people are the ministers" and "ministry happens out there" ideas that we want to propagate.

In his book "Radical Renewal: The problem of wineskins today", Howard A. Snyder lists five ways in which church buildings bear witness about the condition of the traditional church.

1. Church buildings are a witness to our immobility. What is more immovable than a church building? Christians are to be a mobile people. The gospel says, "Go," but our church buildings say, "Stay." The gospel says, "Seek the lost," but our temples say, "Let the lost seek the church."

2. Church buildings are a witness to our inflexibility. As soon as we erect a building, we cut down on our options by at least seventy-five percent. Once the building is up and in use, the church program and budget are largely determined. The problem, at heart, is not one of poor planning. It is a matter of the inherent limitations of church buildings. Buildings are by nature, inflexible and encourage inflexibility - or worse, stagnation.

3. Church buildings are a witness to our lack of fellowship. Church buildings may be wonderful places, but usually they are not friendly places. They are uncomfortable and impersonal. Church buildings are not made for fellowship, for koinonia in the biblical sense. Homes are. Church buildings are made for worship, but worship without fellowship becomes something cold and divorced from reality.

4. Church buildings are a witness to our pride. We insist that our church structures must be beautiful and well appointed - which usually means expensive - and justify this on the grounds that God deserves the best. But such thinking may be little more than the rationalizing of carnal pride. In fact, a fine church building may simply attract the Pharisees and repel the poor.

5. Church buildings are a witness to our divisions of class and race. The early church was a mix of rich and poor, Jew and Greek, black and white, ignorant and educated. But our church buildings are public advertisements that this is not true today. The fault here, of course, lies much deeper than mere architecture. But the building is a witness. It is a signpost telling the world of the church's class consciousness and exclusiveness.

At CTK we don't believe that there is anything wrong with owning buildings, but we recognize that there are trade-offs that come with a "permanent" home.

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