Wrong About Church Buildings: 2
A response to Dan Kimball.

A few weeks ago, pastor and author Dan Kimball posted an interesting entry here about church buildings. In the introduction, he notes that eight years ago he would have said, "Who needs a building? The early church didn't have buildings, and we don't need them either!" Today, however, he notes that he was wrong.

I think he still is.

Here is my official response to Dan Kimball.

Dear Dan,

I recently read your post where you say that you were wrong about church buildings. At first, I was glad to see the title. I'm a house church leader. We used to be a traditional Southern Baptist church—building and all. But that all changed in 2005. Since then, we've been meeting in homes and living out the call of God without a building. And that's why your post troubled me so much.

It is not that I hate buildings. Because we have identified our cause as "Leave the Building," I often get mistaken for a building-hater, but that is not the case. "Leave the Building" is about removing the things that limit us in our service for God or somehow get in the way of what he is trying to accomplish through us. For me and my church, it was our building.

But it will not be that way for everyone. In fact, traditional churches and building-attending Christians can "leave the building" while still attending a traditional, building-based church.

I want to underscore my respect for you, and I believe we share a deep love for the Body of Christ. I see you as a fellow worker; a brother in Christ. And I am thankful that we have the opportunity to sharpen one another as we both occupy positions of leadership within the Church.

I am writing this because the subject of the necessity of buildings is a crucial topic to discuss all across the Church. You do indeed describe good uses for buildings … but what is good, may not be best – either for your church or for the Body of Christ worldwide. Allow me to explain. After you listed good uses of both your church's building and others' (i.e. Compassion International), you made this statement:

"These missional opportunities would not be possible without a building."

There are three reasons why I think you're mistaken.

First, being missional involves more than just being nice to people. Having a coffeehouse with free internet is great, it is nice, but it is not missional. Panera offers the same thing, but they're not missional. The same goes for providing shelter – by itself it is not missional, it is just nice. Being missional is the act of making disciples – that is the mission of the Church as found in Matthew 28:18-21.

Displaying 1–10 of 44 comments


June 17, 2013  11:45am

Hey guys thanks for the opinions. Here's mine. The early church enjoyed meeting daily in homes throughout the community due to the culture of that day. Things have changed over the years that demand a different approach. Personally, i like the ideal of meeting in homes as long as it is some home other than my own. I experienced that back in the late 60's when i moved from Alabama to Nebraska with my wife and two sons. We had home meetings in our home until we were able to rent a small hall to house us in until we were able later to buy our own building. It's very inconvenient to have people to visit your home who have children. If you don't mine someone flushing a roll of toilet paper down the toilet, or children running throughout your home, or people staying longer than you like then a home meeting is for you...I like the building with some good music, songs and worship. The preaching or teaching of God's word. A special guest from time to time bringing us something inspiring from another place or country. Let's face it, we live in a very different world than the Apostles lived in, and to sum it all up, God may not need the building, but we as a people do...

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robert kahaokamoku gilbert

December 06, 2011  5:32am

A church (building) is not a visual reminder that God is still in the building. It may be nothing more than a museum. We have a lot of them in Germany. In southern Turkey where the syriac orthodox church is (you might know them better as the church of Antioch.), the moslems want the Christians to leave, but do not want to tear the buildings down. They want the buildings to remain as museums to a dead religion. A friend of mine is syriac orthodox christian. I made the mistake three times I assumed he is a Turkey, then a Iraqi and then, a Kurd. He is a Syriac Orthodox Christian. He calls himself that. Now, he is German. He accepted the German nationality a few years ago. His religion is Syriac Orthodox. He was Turkey, but did not consider himself Turkey. The Turks never accepted him when he lived there. His wife is Catholic. They had stories of persecution every day as children. The kids would throw rocks at them every day when they went to school. Their families eventually migrated to Germany.

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robert kahaokamoku gilbert

December 06, 2011  4:48am

Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone known better as Francis chose poverty, but decided to rebuild the ruin, chapel of San Damiano. By the look of the landscape today, Francis might have been looking into real estate. A ruin is expensive in Italy today. However, Francis treasured each stone that he would find. Whatever building we choose to build, we should treasure and carefully place each of our stones.

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June 30, 2010  2:42am

The whole article is about a pastor who came to realize that we don't need church buildings to spread the gospel and make disciples and then later on he changed his mind back to we need a building. As I see it the author of this article made it plain and clear he wasn't a building hater and that he was puzzled as to why this man changed his mind. The truth is we don't have to have buildings for people to get saved and be discipled.Can anyone here disagree with that? I don't see anything else this is about. I don't think its about it being sinful to have a building but the fact that you can be the church without a building if you so choose ( your still the church) and it's very scriptual if that is the choice you make. Conveniene isn't always the best way or only way. Buildings are costly and I for one really don't like the fact that all my giving is always going to the building or the pastor's salary. No paid staff in our church except the pastor. Not all church systems are created alike but I do think we should try to live as close to the original blueprint as we possibly can and we should desire to do that. If we would follow the word as it is written we would have more unity and less division.Can we be the church without a building??? I sure hope so!!!

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Church Outside the Box

February 16, 2010  1:55pm

Buildings are not by their nature inherently good or evil. However, the resources to build, maintain, insure, pay taxes, utilities, staff, cleaning crew, etc... could arguably be put to better use since most church facilities run into the millions, tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars to construct and yet sit practically vacant most of the time. The last conventional church I was involved with spent well over $100,000 on electricity each year. Can you worship without a building? Yes! Church Outside the Box www.WhereTwoorThree.com

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Randy Starkey

January 10, 2010  10:48pm

Hey Ken, OK. Cool. I agree our goals according to Scripture should be evangelism, salvation, discipleship, life transformation, extension of the Kingdom, etc. etc. I also think those goals can be well supported via the proper use of buildings and property. As we have both said, that can certainly be abused or misused. Sort of like we all need housing, it's just a matter of wisdom regarding that. What I don't really agree with is the idea we should, for some reason, try hard to make all this happen without buildings. If God really leads that way, fine, but I think the more normal usage of God's resources, spiritual and physical, will most of the time include usage of the physical aspects of His world in various ways. Colleges have campuses. Hospitals have campuses. Jesus said "occupy" until I come. While I agree buildings and property can be misued, abused, poorly managed, designed without wisdom, etc. etc. - I do think that the NT goals of Scripture can most of the time be furthered, not hindered, with the appropriate use of buildings and the like. Blessings!

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Ken Eastburn

January 08, 2010  12:03pm

Randy, Thanks so much for your comment. I must apologize if I've ever come across as saying that church buildings are bad. I'm well aware of the deficiencies of gnosticism and also painfully aware of how invasive it is in Christian theology. I, in no way, think all matter to be bad. I don't even think church buildings are bad. As you say, they are instruments (or tools) to be used. My suggestion wasn't that buildings ARE wrong, but that they CAN BE wrong...they may not be the most useful instrument or tool. Of course, that depends on what the goal is. And sometimes, the goal is such that buildings are the wrong tool.

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Randy Starkey

January 02, 2010  12:57am

To say we don't "need" church buildings, or that we "should" try to do without them, is basically a put down of God's created world. It is the dualism of Plato that says matter is evil, and only spirit is good. It can become gnostic. God created all aspects of creation, material and spiritual, and we are to use them to glorify Him. Or, per Genesis, to have proper dominion. Our problem is we don't do that, we often have the tail wagging the dog instead of vice-versa, or we "abuse" buildings instead of "using" them. But, to put them down as wrong is simply a misunderstanding of God's creation. Much better to "use" them as instruments of His glory, which of course requires us to be led by the Spirit in how, when, where, and why we build them.

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December 26, 2009  8:04am

Interesting discussion. Something that hasn't been addressed: A church building is a visual reminder of Christ within a community. If every Christian met in homes or rented schools and community centers we would disappear from veiw of the unsaved who are inundated constantly with the world's enticiments.

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Thought cop

December 23, 2009  3:14pm

>But let's use "need" appropriately: >Compassion International doesn't need a >building in order to help orphans. Using this logic, you don't NEED a house either. Sure it's convenient, but you don't NEED one. There are thousands of people living on the streets all over the world. After all, Jesus never owned a house, or rented an apartment, or even owned his own car/horse/donkey! I don't have cable/satellite television in my house, but most of you 'need' it enough to squander money on it. ;) What really is a NEED then? Or, is this 'quarreling about words'?

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