10 Comments

Quotes (829)

I remember when I was preparing to take my first trip to Sudan in 2004. . . . A couple months before we left, I received a Christian news publication in the mail. . . . On the left one headline read, “First Baptist Church Celebrates New $23 Million Building.” A lengthy article followed, celebrating the church’s expensive new sanctuary. The exquisite marble, intricate design, and beautiful stained glass were all described in vivid detail.

On the right was a much smaller article. The headline for it read, “Baptist Relief Helps Sudanese Refugees.” Knowing I was about to go to Sudan, my attention was drawn. The article described how 350,000 refugees in western Sudan were dying of malnutrition and might not live to the end of the year. It briefly explained their plight and sufferings. The last sentence said that Baptists had sent money to help relieve the suffering of the Sudanese. I was excited until I got to the amount. . . . “Baptists have raised $5,000 to send to refugees in western Sudan.”

Five thousand dollars. That is not enough to get a plane into Sudan, much less one drop of water to people who need it. Twenty-three million dollars for an elaborate sanctuary and five thousand dollars for hundreds of starving men, women, and children, most of whom were dying apart from faith in Christ.

Where have we gone wrong? How did we get to the place where this is actually tolerable?

- David Platt

10 comments on “Quotes (829)

  1. Grandiose church buildings have long bothered me. As with the recent news about First Baptist Dallas and their obscene new building, such priorities cry out against the rich in such cases. If the church in your example was to have spent $23 M on their building AND given $23 M to the Sudanese, the building is still beyond reason.

    I have often challenged men to consider the money they spend on food and look at such in comparison to the cost of putting a Bible into the hands of Christian in Communist China or any other country. $4 to send a Bible almost anywhere. We revel in the wonderful food and comforts available to us, thinking it be God’s will for us to “live abundantly” – not often stopping to consider the Owner of our money and His revealed will.

    May God have mercy and forgive us – and convict many.

  2. This won’t be as commented on as the ‘Christmas’ post was. But then, that’s because I don’t doubt we can all plead guilty to having a heart like those who would give the millions for the building, yet tutting that only $5,000 was given.

    Get your calculator and do the maths.

    $5,000 divided among 350,000=0.0142857.

    If we times it by 100 we get 1.42857.

    $1,000,000 divided among 350,000=2.8571428

    My biggest concern however, is, how does God compute it?

    As if we even care.

  3. Sorry Pilgrim, but this one’s a fail. You are comparing the financial priorities of two different groups of people spending the amounts at different times; I doubt that the $23 million was spent at one time on the building, while the $5 thousand was likely raised at one time and probably not budgeted for. Not a fair comparison to hold whoever donated the money accountable for the actions that an entirely different set of people took.

  4. 072591, your argument holds no water. The people who gave have one level of responsibility – to know how their money is going to be spent by trusted spiritual leaders. The people who spent the money have higher level of responsibility, determining what kingdom to honor. Large corporate units called churches but exhibiting few of the biblical marks of a church need grandiose buildings. A church does not. A church is overseen by a few elders who know their sheep, a corporation is ruled by men who are removed from the members and know few of them, but have programs and staff employees to run them. In these corporate environments, people are coddled in the love for the comforts of the world. This is sin.

  5. It’s boggles the mind how a corporation, uh, I mean church can justify spending this kind of money on their facilities when so many people (right in their own back yard) are out of work and suffering.

    “But it will enable us to be more effective in reaching out to our community…” HOGWASH!
    I see it all the time here in Canada. Missions to Palm Springs, Pastoral conferences to Las Vegas and the list goes on.

    As Leonard Ravenhill said so eloquently, the early church did have stately buildings, and they didn’t have a bunch of money, but they turned the world upside down with the Gospel. The so called church is so busy with programs, facilities and status, that they have forgotten that it’s ALL about Jesus. Stop putting jewelry and fashionable clothes on the body and start working with what you got.

  6. Actually, Manfred, I think you missed my point entirely, and re-reading my post, it’s probably because I wrote it badly. 1st Baptist Dallas, as a whole, spent that amount of money to build a building. However, not all Baptists are part of 1st Baptist Dallas; for example, I have never been there. That is what I mean by two different groups. The only people accountable for the actions of 1st Baptist Dallas is 1st Baptist Dallas.

    Now, any interest in the difference between money spread out over time vs. money collected all at once?

  7. 072591,
    OK. Makes no matter how the money is raised – over time or all at once. What matters is how it spent. I see this in 1 Cor 16, where Paul exorts the church to collect each week for delivery to the church in Jerusalem. The object is what matter – with spending, faith, prayer. The obscene buildings have no value in the kingdom of God and it wastes money He has given people to put it to such use.

  8. Actually, the money was not raised “over a period of time.” Here is the quote

    “The congregation of First Baptist Church Dallas today overwhelmingly affirmed recommended plans to proceed with a $130 million capital campaign to build an expansive new 1.5 million square foot, state-of-the-art campus, making it the largest church building program in modern history, according to church fundraising experts…In two special services this morning, Dr. Jeffress informed the congregation that already more than $62 million has been committed to this campaign.”

    What the $130M will do is “improve” upon what is already there. But that figure is what will be spent in the next couple of years; it is not money that has been “spread out over time.”

    That said, the building of huge, gaudy churches like the one in Dallas does nothing to attract the unsaved. In fact, in many cases it does just the opposite: it fuels their contempt for the church, giving them the impression that church is “all about money.” If I may share from my own personal experiences, I was in class a couple years ago with a fellow from the UK. We started talking about religion, and I can recall nearly verbatim his words: “I get over here, and in the middle of the poorest neighborhood the biggest, shiniest building is a f****** church. Why can’t they use that money to help people who really need it?” Sadly, I had to agree with him. Are comfy chairs, extravagant lighting and sound, and the best coffee on the market really as important as doing what Scripture tells us to do?

    The point is this: those who have (including 1st Baptist Dallas, as well as any church for that matter) are to help those who lack. This is a principle that is found all throughout Paul’s epistles.

    2nd Corinthians 8:13-14–For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality.
    Philippians 4:14-17–Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

    Which would cause more fruit to abound to our account? Building a huge, shiny building that will be burnt up in the end of all things? Or using that money to spread the gospel, that crowns may be won that will never perish?

  9. 072591,

    What is even worse is the fact that not only was $62 million raised in 2 services, but that this would be a matter of boasting! $5,000 to help Sudanese refugees .00008% of the amount raised for half the price of 1 building complex that will seat LESS than 4,000 per service AND will be used ONLY a handful of times every week!

    Must really make our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ proud to see what those who CLAIM to be His followers do with ALL that He has entrusted to them. Our Lord Jesus Christ had NOWHERE to lay His own head and yet, American Christianity can rarely be found in worship together without being offered:

    1. A bagel in one hand and a latte in the other
    2. Soft seating and mood-lighting
    3. Plenty of entertainment
    4. Short sermons
    5. Lots of worldly influenced music

    Nope, surely there is nothing wrong with the above picture – after all, I’m certain that Jesus Christ was speaking metaphorically when He stated we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to be a cross-carrying disciple!

  10. Grandiose church buildings have long bothered me. As with the recent news about First Baptist Dallas and their obscene new building, such priorities cry out against the rich in such cases. If the church in your example was to have spent $23 M on their building AND given $23 M to the Sudanese, the building is still beyond reason. I have often challenged men to consider the money they spend on food and look at such in comparison to the cost of putting a Bible into the hands of Christian in Communist China or any other country. $4 to send a Bible almost anywhere. We revel in the wonderful food and comforts available to us, thinking it be God’s will for us to “live abundantly” – not often stopping to consider the Owner of our money and His revealed will. May God have mercy and forgive us – and convict many.

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