The First Baptist Church of Dallas will complete a $130 million campus renovation in what is regarded as the largest church building campaign in recent history – as reported by Charisma News. The new campus is set to open on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013.
The new campus will have a new 3,000-seat sanctuary, which includes a 150-foot-wide viewing screen, which stretches nearly two-thirds across the room and consists of seven high-definition projectors blended together. Also, featured in the rebuild is a glass sky bridge, new children’s and youth classrooms, a gymnasium and three indoor playgrounds, a seven-story parking garage, and an internally lit cross tower and fountain.
The Psychology behind building buildings
Why do we, as a church, build expensive new buildings, what is the underlying motivation? My take: we build buildings to keep the people we do have and attract new people. And I don’t think there is inherently anything wrong with that line of reasoning. (more on that in a minute) We are, after all, called to make disciples of all people.
A new building signals that other people have already voted with their pocket book that this is a good place to go on Sundays. And we, as consumers, look for social and economic clues to make an informed decision. And a new building with new parking garages and with a new sound system certainly sends that signal. But the question remains, is this the right signal to be sending?
What buildings should we be building anyway?
I agree that we should be attracting more people to the teaching of Jesus. And, still, one of the best ways to do that is to send social signals signifying success. But there in lies the rub. We struggle under the ethical dilemma of funneling millions of dollars into brick and mortar and high-technology. We see so much poverty, dysfunction, and distress around us and wonder if that money can’t be better spent.
Some argue that the mammoth new buildings benefit everyone. And to a certain extent, it does. Everyone is free to come and experience church for a few hours a week. And yet, that money could have everyday impact to thousands if it was put into social programs.
But here, I think, is the real question: what buildings should we be building? Since we already have a Church under construction – the Living Church of Believers – shouldn’t we work to complete that building first? It’s bricks are made of you and me. And an impressive building built with healthy, happy, successful people would be the greatest status symbol of all.
I can imagine a building built of people who have:
- deep friendships
- caring personality
- no addictions
- ability to give to the needy
- unshakable spirituality
- a happy marriage
- a good home life
- a fulfilling career
- money for retirement
- strong bonds in the community
A building like this would by its very nature attract people to it. This building could be placed anywhere, in any environment, and still it would compel people to come to its doors. This building could be disguised in store front churches, home groups, old churches, and new churches. But still its unmistakable imprint would be recognizable.
At the end of the day, It think, I am all for building buildings – but only the ones that Christ placed His importance on. There is only one building that I can think of that fits that description. And until we finish that building, maybe the others should have less importance (and less sky bridges).