The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not
live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed
anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
--Acts 17:24-25 NIV
In last week’s newsletter, I wrote about the difficulty churches have remembering that the church and the church building are two different things. Confusing the building with the church leads to dying congregations who have lost sight of what it means to serve their communities. It is possible, although less likely these days for churches to have very nice buildings and yet function as deeply unhealthy churches.
Park Hill Christian Church is in a better situation with its building than many—maybe even most—churches today. It’s building has been well-maintained, and beyond the normal costs of maintaining a building this size, it is in good shape. For PHCC to position itself well for a vibrant future, the PHCC Board has identified the need to pay off the remaining mortgage on the Patterson Family Life Center. On September 13, Rev. Dr. Larry Patterson, former minister of PHCC, will return, and this is a good occasion to complete the work begun under his tenure.
The purpose of paying off the mortgage on the PHCC building is not an end in itself. Rather, it is a necessary step to focus on the building’s intention—a tool to serve the community around PHCC. This is why the PHCC Board has identified “Bold Hospitality” as a goal for the congregation.
“Bold Hospitality” means maximizing the church building for service to the people around our church. Currently, PHCC has begun renting space to another congregation which does not have its own building yet. They are paying rent to us, but more importantly we are reaching across lines of denomination and helping to advance the work of God in our community. We have also begun talking with two groups that serve mentally challenged adults who are in need of a place to meet. The connection with these two groups was made by a church member who knew of their need. Groups like these who help underserved people that can afford to pay rent will do so, but those who cannot will be given space as a part of our ministry. The rent money is important for the maintenance of our building, but ultimately, we are not a real estate leasing company but a church. The ultimate goal is serving children of God who are in need.
This mindset of “Bold Hospitality” involves letting go of the idea that the church building is our club house existing only for our needs. Just as no Christian exists to satisfy their own needs, no church exists to care only for itself. This is why the PHCC Board has asked church members to be open to groups doing good work in our community that need a place to meet and with whom we can partner to improve the lives of others in our area. Bold Hospitality comes with the benefit of raising awareness of PHCC in the community. Our best advertising is good word of mouth. The main benefit, however, is we get to live out our calling of serving others in Jesus’ name. Look around for where God is already at work in our community, and I feel confident God will make clear the ways we can use what we have to benefit that work.
Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper is the pastor of Judson Memorial Baptist Church in New York City. This historic church has an immense building facing Washington Square Park in Manhattan. The church’s building has not been bought by developers for condos, as is the case with many churches in New York City’s crazy real estate market. Instead, they have found ways to share their building with their community. Schaper wrote about the changing uses of church buildings and threw out some examples of how congregations might rethink how their buildings are used. It sounds a lot like “Bold Hospitality” to me.
Here are her ideas:
What if we gave free childcare and a candlelit meal every Friday night to beleaguered working parents of young children? What would that signal about who owns our buildings – us or the community we hope to serve?
What if weekdays our internet and copying machines were used by people doing startup businesses? People could work out of a chair in our Sunday School Rooms. They could also take coffee breaks with the church staff.
What if we had worship services for opioid users on occasions when the congregation wasn't using the sanctuary? Or early morning sober dancing for people who can't risk a bar anymore?
What would you add to her list of ideas?
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Chase Peeples
P.S.-- If you are planning on being present on Sunday, September 13 to welcome back Rev.
Dr. larry Patterson, please send in your R.S.V.P. (Church leaders and Rev. Dr. Patterson
fully understand that many who wish to be present cannot do so because of the risks
of COVID-19.) Also, now is the time to make your contribution to paying off the
mortgage for the Patterson Family Life Center. Unlike your usual contribution to the
church’s operating budget which pays for staff, maintenance and outreach, 100% of
funds given toward this goal will be applied to paying off the mortgage.
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We're Park Hill Christian Church in KC MO. We seek to follow Jesus by praising God, loving those we meet and serving the vulnerable.