Why is it that churches will borrow money to build buildings, but they shudder at the thought of borrowing money to hire staff? After all, staff are more important to discipling people than buildings are. Yet when I recommend to churches that, if they can’t afford to hire the staff they need, they should borrow the money to get it done, they look at me like I’m from Mars.
Borrowing money to hire staff is a faith statement: churches borrow money to build because they have faith they can pay it back. So what’s the problem?
Well, let’s be blunt – most church leaders value their building more than they value people who could be in the building. Buildings are the passion for many church leaders, not people. This is a sin.
An example might help.
Several years ago I was consulting with a church that was located directly across from a large university. The church was 100 years old, landlocked, declining, and had little parking.
While I was there, the roof of the sanctuary actually fell in due to age. I’m not kidding; it literally fell in during one of our sessions. The very next day the university offered to purchase the building and its property for 5 million dollars. Now remember, this was about 15 years ago, when 5 million went a much longer way. The church could move, build a state-of-the-art facility, and have a chance to grow. A no-brainer, right?
Wrong. Instead of selling, they took the insurance money, put the roof back on the building, and continued to decline.
They loved their building more than their mission. And guess what? The church is now closed – and it should be. God doesn’t honor such nonsense.
So remember: people always come first. People come before programs, buildings, salaries – anything you can name. Christ died for people, not for things.
Question: How have you seen churches emphasize people over things? Share your observations in the Comments section below.