Biblical Stewardship in Building
By: Michael D. Barnes
"Suppose one of you wants to build a church. Will you not really sit down first with an architect and examine the costs to see if you have the finances to complete it? For if your church decides to lay the foundation and begin construction and you cannot finish it, the community will ridicule you saying, 'This church began to build but was not able to finish.' "
Sound familiar? It is a loose interpretation of what Jesus spoke in Luke 14:28-30.
Integrity and credibility are important in any faith-based community. It is especially important to the community outside of the church that is looking in. Approximately 40% of church projects run 30-40% over budget.
I recently spoke to a church that has the entire steel frame erected with the roof on. However, they have run out of finances and cannot complete the building. Though the pastor is a man of God and the leadership is strong, it is a bad reflection on their ability to lead.
God calls us to practice proper stewardship in the body of Christ. Stewardship is the act of managing property finances, time, and affairs. Biblical stewardship is based specifically on scripture. When God created us humans, He made us to have "dominion" over the entire earth (Genesis 1:26). Dominion was not intended to be domination. It was God's call for us to be good, gracious managers of His entire creation.
Concerning church expansion and building, good stewardship is the prayerful and biblical management of the entire building project. Let's revisit Luke 14:28-30 where Jesus encourages us to first sit down and get an estimate of costs in order to see if we are able to complete it. Many churches involved in building programs today suffer from the blight of never "counting the costs."
Let me address several aspects of biblical stewardship that have assisted many churches in their journey towards building and maximizing their ministry.
Is it time?
Will it maximize your ministry?
Have you counted the costs?
It is critical to analyze every functional ministry need and have a design professional assist you in understanding the space requirements in order to meet those needs. Early in the process, a design professional can determine the construction cost of a facility and thereby count the cost early. It is vitally important that both the architect and contractor be accountable to the church's budget.
Are you building green?
This means utilizing appropriate materials that are locally available, as well as designing a space to take advantage of the light and sun during the day, while keeping the heat out in the summertime. There are now appropriate mechanical and electrical systems that are available in order for the architect to design a building that is environmentally sensitive and "green."
Are you counting the cost of all variables?
The actual construction cost of a facility includes not only the building aspects of construction, but also the following:
* Land and development costs
It is important to understand that it is God who calls us to build. When Nehemiah reflected on the challenge ahead of him regarding rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he knew he couldn't do it alone. He lacked the strength, resources, and power to rebuild the walls of the great city. However, there is one thing Nehemiah did have. He had faith in the God of Heaven.
"Then he answered and said unto them, 'The God of heaven, He will prosper us; therefore, we his servants will arise and build'." Nehemiah 2:20
God will call you to arise and build. Have faith in God, practice biblical stewardship, and your building program will be a blessing and asset to your church.
Michael D. Barnes, A.I.A., N.C.A.R.B., is founder and chief executive officer of Barnes Design Group, P.C., www.BarnesDesignGroup.com.