Summary: Is your ministry all polish?
There is an old saying when something is futile or a waste of time and money. Doing (whatever) is like polishing doorknobs on the Titanic. I am sure that when that ship went down it had nicely polished doorknobs but they didn’t stay that way long under water. The loss of life and valuables far outweighed the shiny glamour the ship once had.
I am afraid that the Western Church has done quite a bit of that for centuries but especially so in the US over the last thirty-three years that I have been a Christian. I have had the opportunity to live in five states and to minister in a few more as well as a doing a bit of a worldwide ministry via the Internet. Between my personal experiences and interaction with many brethren I have seen some very bad stewardship in the family of God.
1 Cor 4:1-2
1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. KJV
While this speaks primarily to being faithful in our ministry of the Word we can certainly apply the principle to all aspects of ministry and church life. We consistently and scripturally exhort the Body of Christ to be faithful in study of the Word, church attendance, witnessing, holiness, tithing, etc, etc. When are we going to become good stewards in the area of buildings and seeking unity by downsizing the Church rather than splitting it?
Ironically, the non-denomination/intra-denominational movement preaches and sings about unity but has been responsible for splitting the Body of Christ more than it has ever been. There are more storefront churches, house churches and various splinter groups than ever before in that last two hundred years and maybe in all the history of Christianity. How that promotes unit totally eludes me. Indeed, it is more a cause of confusion among the unbelievers than it is a uniting force among believers. It is divisive, not unifying.
It is also lousy stewardship in that more money goes into buildings, utilities, hi-tech sound and video equipment and staff than the message and mission. We are building mansions for the bonfire before the new Heaven and new Earth instead of preventing the masses from entering Hell fire or building up the saints to do the work of the ministry.
Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; KJV
We preach that the Church is not the building but rather the saints of God in whose hearts and souls God dwells, but in reality we are more obsessed with buildings and glitz than we are souls saved or lost. We still call our meeting houses Old Testament names like tabernacles and temples but instead of only building what is actually necessary like a tabernacle since this world is temporary and quickly fading we build temples that seek to rival Solomon’s rather than building the real church of God; souls. If this world in not our home why do we insist on thinking God dwells in our shrines rather than using the money to get people into the kingdom and training the saints to do the work of the ministry?
Multi-million dollar buildings to worship the King, who came to earth in a stable, lived as the son of a poor carpenter and then ministered as an itinerant without a place to lay His head somehow seems quite incongruous to His life and message.
How many missionaries could have been sent with that money? How many widows indeed could have been supported properly rather than living in the poverty of Social Security? How many kids could have had their tuition paid to learn in a Christian school versus the halls of secular education? How many could have been reached for Christ and then trained by the Church to get out of poverty and off welfare? The lists of possibilities for better use of the many we waste is huge. We fuss about the inefficiency and wasteful spending of our various levels of Government yet we who represent the King of Kings and His government as ambassadors are even worse. Many missionaries have minimal support or still trying to get to the field because the home churches are building mansions that often become mausoleums.
I have not talking about the obvious abuses of air conditioned doghouses, $23,000 marble toilets and the lavish lifestyles of so-called ministers of God but capricious construction of buildings that are more shows of wealth than adequate meeting places. Is it not odd that the early church could get by with just a place to meet for a meal, prayer, study and at least a hymn before they left for home but we need multi-million dollar plants decked to the nines with stuff that does not add to worship or training? It is just plain glitz and a waste of money. It is polishing doorknobs for a house that will be in flames at the end of time if not before if some elements of the culture have their way.