On Sunday I was invited to attend the ground breaking of a local ministry’s building.
I don’t like the idea of Churches with massive buildings & expensive sound equipment which is used once or twice a week & built at great cost.
I don’t think something like that is meaningful.
Or to put it in religious language, I don’t think it is good stewardship.
How can building and maintaining a building which is utilized for less than 14% of the available time be wise?
Which business man would build an office block or a storage facility if he is going to use it for only 14% of the time or only 14% of the space.
It just doesn’t make sense & yet, this is what often happens – churches erect buildings with large auditoriums which can seat thousands of people, creating a space which is utilized for four or six hours on a Sunday and for the rest of the time it is securely locked & maintained at great cost.
Six hours once a week.
Come to think of it, that equates to 7.14% of available time if we work with a 12 hour day.
5.35% if a building of that type could be used perhaps 16 hours per day.
There are massive theaters dedicated to the arts, someone objects.
They stand empty for most of the week, hosting performances on Friday & Saturday nights. No one complains about them?
They were created to entertain crowds.
Like the Roman Colosseum.
As I stand amongst the small assembled crowd, music blaring from the sound-system, everyone waiting for ‘dignitaries’ to arrive, I wonder what this ministry will do with this building, built at great cost to the people who are inspired to donate their hard earned money to this cause.
What inspires us to give money to the building of a building?
I look around.
I see some formal homes.
Nothing large or opulent.
I look to the horizon and see some ‘shacks’. Make-shift homes created from corrugated iron. Foundation-less. Temporary, but depressingly permanent.
I wonder how the dwellers of these ‘shacks’ would feel about another large opulent Church Building raising to the sky?
Then the Pastor of this ministry speaks.
‘We’re not building a Church’, he says to the little crowd. ‘We’re building a center of hope. A place where mother’s could leave their children during the day, when they go to work out of necessity. A place where young people can come in the afternoons and evenings to watch TV, to be in good company, when their parents are absent. Working. Trying to earn enough to buy food & clothes & school. We’re building a place that will be open. Welcoming. At the center of this community. A place where people will be helped to discover their destiny.’
And I smile, because I think our world has seen enough of large, empty, locked buildings.
A scripture comes to mind.
Something about the keys of heaven being given. And what is bound on earth, being bound in heaven & what is loosed on earth, being loosed in heaven.
I wonder if this scripture, which was once words spoken by Someone, exclusively pertains to something spiritual or if it is grounded in soil & earth?
I wonder if we do not use these ‘keys’ to lock-up, more than we use it to open-up?
Maybe, when I enable a child to go to a school where she would get a quality education, which would be out of her reach – maybe that is opening-up?
Loosing something in heaven.
Maybe, if I create a space where young people can be, away from the destruction of gangs & drugs – maybe that is ‘loosing something in heaven’, more than anything else?
Maybe we’ve forgotten that keys aren’t made to lock away?
Keys are made to unlock & make available.
I wonder what I’ll be able to unlock, for others, if I see the keys in my hand differently?