What Kind Of Church Building Should We Have?
Elder Oscar B. Mink
Now In Glory

(2 Chronicles 3:6) “And he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty: and the gold was gold of Parvaim.  

(Isaiah 64:11) “Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste.

We are not to try to emulate the grand edifices of Protestantism, or the ostensible temples of so-called fundamentalists, and it is out of the question as to copying the temples of Solomon or Herod. Yet, we might be inspired by these temples to improve in some measure the beauty of our houses of worship. Having been given the ability to enhance the beauty and comfort of our place of worship, and leave off to do so, would be to our shame. We are to give our best to God, and His house of worship should not be inferior to our own homes. God said to David, “For I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day; but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another Why have ye not built me an house of cedars?” (1 Chronicles 17:5-6)

The Jews idolized their temple, Roman Catholics hold their Basilica in Rome in idolatrous esteem. The Mormons are not one whit behind the Jews and Catholics concerning their temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the Humbard Cathedral in Akron, Ohio, along with many of the so-called Baptist temples have gone the way of great extravagance. These buildings show the extremes men will go in their efforts to worship God with their hands, or to make a name for themselves.
Jesus, in referring to the church age, the Herodian temple, and all subsequent extravagance in church building, said, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” (John 4:23With these words Christ made it known that a gorgeous spectacle of a building is not necessary to true worship of God. In fact, excesses in esthetics are condemned by these words of the Head of the church. New Testament teaching supports the view that a church building is not essential to collective or social worship. However, let us avoid this allowed extreme, for it is without controversy, a building to worship in, adequate to the needs of the congregation helps in promoting the worship service. Frugality and beauty are not antagonistic to one another, for beauty is born of God and wasteful expenditures are forbidden by common sense. Beautiful music and song make for a better worship service, and a church building modestly adorned with beauty and designed for comfort is conducive to a worshipful spirit.

The history of false Christendom attests to the fact that extravagance in church building, and extreme ritualism are wedded. It is for this reason early American Puritanism, and in later times Hardshell Baptists swung with the pendulum to the other God dishonouring extreme. Music in worship services was condemned and forbidden, ceremony in worship was considered evil, and church meeting houses were constructed without any consideration given to beauty and but little to comfort. Their rigid determination to be plain resulted in shoddy and uncomfortable church buildings, and earned for them the stigma of being stingy toward God. Many of their farm buildings which housed their animals were kept in better condition than their worship houses, and while they kept their affluence they lost much of their Christian influence.

While true churches cannot go the route of extravagance in erecting their meeting places, they should not be guilty of the other extreme either. There is an area between the two extremes wherein adequate and comely church buildings may be built without creating a financial hardship for the members. What true churches need to keep in mind is that no church building be it ever so humble or magnificent can serve as a substitute for the inward beauty which the redeemed soul is to be adorned with. The beauty and physical comforts of the church house serve to make the worshippers feel good, but that in itself is not enough, for many commercial and public buildings provide the same or better. The deception to avoid is, when people feel good they are prone to think they are good. Many a poor deluded soul has pointed toward their palatial church home, and said, “The Lord is really blessing us.” The Lord blesses truth wherever it is preached regardless of The circumstances under which it is preached, but to have the power to have a suitable building to worship in, and not exercise that power may tend to circumscribe the blessing.

A beautiful, comfortable, and adequate building while affording a good feeling for the assembly can only enhance the worship service when it is kept in mind from whence these blessings have come, for what purpose they are granted, and when the heart is filled with gratitude to God for giving them. When this state of worship is achieved the service is lifted up in spirit beyond the beautiful surroundings of the carnal building to the celestial and incomparable grandeur of the palace of the King Eternal. Then too, the church needs to keep in mind that its primary work is not the construction of church buildings, but the building up of the spiritual house of God is the chief work of the Lord’s churches. We are not to build expensive edifices at the expense of missionary work, on the other hand no church should let their building become so dilapidated as to bring a reproach on the church, and thereby impair its effectiveness in its own community.

A good and general rule in determining the cash outlay in providing a church building, and its measure of beauty and comfort, is, find the average income of the member-ship, the tithes and offerings of the church are usually greater than the average income of the individual members of the church. The difference between the two incomes should determine the superiority of the common building over that of the homes of its members. This rule is seldom applicable to newly organized churches, but there is no church that does not need its own building, and in due season, after the new church has grown in membership, the above rule may serve as a good tool in shaping the size and convenience of its own church home.

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