A church building can be a blessing or an albatross. Most of our buildings were built to be use-specific at a particular time in a church’s history. When times change, the building may be less suited to the needs of a congregation.
I once served a church that had engaged in a building expansion in the late 80’s, followed by a gradual decline in membership that soon rendered the building too large for our needs. While we had two big gathering spaces, we were barely able to fill one.
One rainy day, a man knocked on the church door and told me he was the pastor of a Hmong congregation that needed worship and classroom space. I truly felt he was an answer to our prayers, and the little congregation rented space from us for several years. While the size and configuration of our building was in some ways a liability, we were able to give over the entire upstairs to our partner congregation. We also used the opportunity to engage in occasional worship, fellowship and even a class on Hmong culture, as friendships were formed between our members.
Instead of thinking of your big church building as an albatross, consider how it might be used by someone in your community. Here’s a great story from the Presbyterian News Service about a Portland church that converted some of its space into a warming shelter for homeless neighbors.
Be creative! Your building may be a mission unto itself.