Is it wise for a church to borrow money for a new building?
Is it Necessary?
With church growth comes growing pains and so it is when space becomes a problem for a burgeoning church, so when should a church borrow money for a new building? Would it be better to just “add on” to an existing structure of the church? Are there other places on church property that are not presently being utilized? Is the church’s higher insurance premium going to be more difficult to pay? What single area in the church is most in need of space or facilities? The church must make a decision, as a whole, what they think is the best option. I believe the church should vote as a whole on this decision. When the majority of the church is involved in the decision making process, then there will be more sets of eyes looking at the problem. There is safety in numbers (Prov 11:14) because of the age and experience of others or the insight some might have. Someone might see something that no one else does. The first question is, “Is it necessary?” Have all the other options been brought to the table? What are the best options available without having to procure a loan in order to build a new building? Can the congregation support the higher insurance costs and loan payments? If the answers are “No” to a lot of these questions, then you’re not ready to take that step yet.
Does it Glorify God?
If this is may be a movement of God, and you’re seriously in need of space for worshippers, you may have no other choice but to build a new building but it should be done for the right reason. Churches can sometimes become entertainment centers for youth and their families. One church I know has a tennis court, a small skating rink, and even a 4-lane bowling alley! They actually hand out ear plugs for everyone that comes into the worship services, but if people come to church just for the entertainment and not for worship and participating in the church, then it’s not really the best of reasons to put up a new building, not to mention getting into debt in order to build it. If they come to church unchanged then maybe they should change churches because if they’re still living in their sins and without any evidence of repentance, then all you’re doing as a church is making them have more fun in life on the way to hell. To build a building simply for the sake of making the church a place of entertainment, I believe, is a misappropriation of funds, and ultimately, it’s God’s money they are spending foolishly. God will not bless a church that wants to become the First United Disneyland Church. In no way do such churches glorify God; indeed, they glorify themselves.
Some churches have begun to use modules for expanding Sunday school and Bible study classes. These are highly cost effective and can easily be used for storage if or when a new building is needed. Many public and Christian schools have been using these for years and now and they seem to be a much simpler solution than new construction. For one thing, they’re inexpensive, in comparison to new construction, and they are moveable. Since they are less expensive, churches can afford to buy these and thus, avoid having to get into debt for building a new building. The last thing a church needs to do in such an unstable and unpredictable economy is to take on a large amount of debt and then have a declining church membership leaven them with an unsustainable debt.
I think that churches must use great wisdom, seek the counsel of other churches who have put up buildings, visit other churches or schools that use modules for classrooms, speak with the administrators and leadership in these institutions, before deciding to get into debt to build a new church building. Look at these other people’s experience and listen to their concerns or problems that they’ve had or are now experiencing. A church should never borrow money until it becomes absolutely, positively necessary. It should be the last thing any church should do, and in fact, any Christian should do, than to take on a large amount of debt with no promise about tomorrow’s ability to pay it off. It has been the death knoll for a lot of churches and bankruptcy for a lot of people. The Apostle Paul’s advice is to “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom 13:8) since “the borrower is slave to the lender” (Prov 22:7).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.