This morning, I read an article that spoke about how First Baptist of Dallas is preparing to open a new campus in downtown Dallas, a campus that cost $130 million. (http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2013/03/21/first-baptist-dallas-prepares-to-open-130-million-campus-in-downtown/) The article speaks about different things that are present on this campus like “‘We have 28 jets to shoot water up,’ Jeffress explained. ‘Its choreographed to go along with great hymns of the faith.'”
I know that there are those who will disagree with me and/or who think this isn’t a big deal, but I can’t but wonder what God thinks about this. Granted, I don’t know anything about this congregation like how much it spends on missions and outreach and the like, but I can’t help but think about what an extra $130 million could do.
People are struggling economically and are hurting and this is how money is used. To me, this screams, “Look at us! Look how great we are! Look how awesome we are because we have this incredible campus with amenities like 28 jets that are choreographed to hymns of the faith.”
I’m sorry, I know I am ranting, but does this leave God shaking his head in disbelief? Is this just the latest example of many of the excess of the church in America? Is this just one more exhibit of how, many times, the church of America has bought into shaping the church around the American ideal instead of around a simple community based upon people who have been and are being transformed by the Spirit of God and who are in relationships with others being the conduit of transformation for them?
With examples like this, is it any wonder that many in this country who have rejected the church have done so because they don’t see much, if any, difference between our culture of greed and excess and the church? Want to know why Jesus came as a child born in a dirty stable instead of the palace where he deserved? So he could identify with those whom he came to save. How do people struggling in this world see churches like this identifying with them? They don’t because they can’t.
I realize that it is easy to tell someone else how to spend their money, but I can’t help but wonder how else it could have been used to see lives transformed.
For example, take the $130 million and invest it in such a way that you have an annual return of 5%. That’s $6.5 million dollars. Now with that money start some type of non-profit company in which you would hire those who need work to perform, at no cost, for those who cannot afford certain types of services due to income issues.
Hire 80 people at a combined compensation package of $70,000 (salary + benefits) to perform different types of services. That would leave about $900,000 of the $6.5 million for materials, supplies, etc. Now there are 80 less people on unemployment and 80 families who have health insurance. Now they are experiencing hope where before they had no hope and those who are the recipients of those services rendered are also experiencing hope.
Here’s what I think God thinks – His church has bought into an Amercanized model of the church which is “Build it and they will come” and “Bigger is better” mentality. I believe God would rather have us focus on relationships which transform because the Spirit is active in them and be generous when needs arise rather than focus on building these monstrosities.
I wonder how many people will be transformed, changed, when they see the 28 jets choreographed to great hymns of the faith. My guess? Not many if any at all.
God is just shaking His head.