I recently read an article in the USA Today about how the mortgage meltdown is trickling down to churches. The story starts off talking about a D.C. area church that was building a 3,000 seat, $30 million facility. They had already sold and moved out of the old building when all of the funding for the new place fell apart. Construction stopped and the church has no permanent home.
The article goes on to talk about other examples as well. One church filed bankruptcy. Another switched to an interest only loan. Others are defaulting on payments. A few churches were faced with foreclosure.
In contrast, I remember a visit to Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas for a conference. They recently purchased two abandoned office building towers and built a beautiful, state of the art, 2,000 seat sanctuary. They did it all without going into debt. They waited until right properties became available and raised all of the money they needed before starting any construction. Now, they're building a new bigger sanctuary and turning the old one into a children's ministry center. Again they're doing it debt free. (At least that was the plan a year ago.)
It would be easy to instantly condemn the first examples saying they were being poor stewards of money and should be above the societal norm of taking out massive loans, ignoring the fact that the economy could tank. In turn, it would equally as easy to applaud Watermark.
But the truth is, there are many growing churches who don't have enough room or ones who have buildings that are beyond repair. They need to build. They feel convicted that God is telling them to grow. And obviously some churches plan better for construction than others.
What do you think? How should churches manage building a new facility?