Conference to encourage ministry focus as congregations construct new facilities
By Lee Warren
April 5, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY — “If you build it, they will come” might be a concept that works well in movies, but according to several people in charge of the upcoming Church Building Finance Conference April 28-30 at the Baptist Building, it is the wrong philosophy to have when building new church facilities.
“Facilities never win anybody to Christ,” said John Garner, recreation sports specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources. “They are simply tools to use to facilitate ministry. So, the way a facility is designed will either enhance or hamper ministry.
“The build-it-and-they-will-come thing is just not true. A church thinks that a recreation building is going to attract all these new people and do all these things and win all these people to Christ. In reality, if a church is not evangelistic in winning people before they build a recreation building, they will probably be even less evangelistic after they build a building because there is nothing religious about a basketball court, or a pool table, or a ping pong table. It’s what you do with it.
“This conference is going to focus on how to be intentional in using these tools. And when you design them right, they will work.”
Garner will be part of the team leading the church recreation facilities portion of the conference that will meet April 28 in the Baptist Building from 9 a.m..-3 p.m. Cost for this portion of the conference is $15 and includes lunch.
Jerry Grubbs, planning specialist for LifeWay Church Architecture, will be part of the team leading the portion of the conference that focuses on church buildings that will meet on April 29 in the Baptist Building from 6:30-9:30 p.m. and on April 30 from 8 a.m. until noon. Cost for this portion of the conference is $10 and meals are not provided.
Those interested in attending only one portion of the conference are free to do so.
Like Garner, Grubbs wants to help conferees understand the importance of being ministry driven when constructing new facilities rather than facilities driven. And Grubbs wants to discourage church leaders from trying to keep up with the church down the street in terms of size and new facilities. The goal would be to find out what God wants a particular church to do.
“Rather than starting with the question that most architects typically start with, ‘What do you want us to build?’ We ask, ‘What is God calling this congregation to do in this place and how is that going to mean that your future is going to be different from your past in terms of ministry?’” Grubbs said.
“Buildings don’t cause churches to grow. People cause churches to grow. Buildings allow for the natural processes of ministry to take place that will ultimately lead to a larger congregation.”
Garner and Grubbs believe that pastors, building committees and church leaders facing the need for more space can benefit from this conference even if they are in the middle of a project that was started with a facility driven philosophy.
“Rarely is there a church that if they were honest about their past, who could say that they’ve never made a mistake in building,” Grubbs said. “Either they made a mistake proactively by building the wrong building or in the wrong place, or they made a mistake reactively by not building when they needed to. There’s no perfect church. There’s no perfect church building. And there’s no perfect time to build.”
The Church Building Finance Conference has a long history of helping Missouri Baptist churches that need direction regarding facilities.
“I started doing these in 1986, but it was going on many years before I started doing it,” said Spencer Hutson, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) biblical stewardship specialist. “There have been a lot of people who’ve been very appreciative of Missouri Baptists providing this for them. And it’s something that we do only one time per year, so if they are even thinking about building in the next year or two or three, they really ought to come to this conference.”
To register, call Becky Wolfe at (800) 736-6227 ext. 221 or e-mail her at email@example.com.