Eugene Cho

In defense of the 130 million dollar church building project.

Recently, First Baptist Church in Dallas unveiled plans for a 130 million dollar capital campaign for their new worship center which would include the whole enchilada: a 3,000 seat worship center, 6 floor education building, glass concourse, parking garage, sky bridge, the preservation of their current historic building, a fountain plaza, two side by side gymnasiums, an outdoor patio, and the all important oval pool with a stone water tower topped with a cross.

Geez, I’m just asking for your one day’s wages. :-)

As you might expect, there are some heavy criticisms from people but I find it odd that folks that are often in the camp of “If we’re reaching people for Jesus, that’s the main thing…” as defenses for the latest church pop trends are also very critical of the building project.

I say it’s odd because that’s the exact reasoning behind this church’s vision of the 130 million dollar campaign.

So, let me share couple thoughts in defense of this church:

  1. God cared immensely about His temple and a great amount of time, energy, resources, and money went into the temple and rebuilding it.  Why not now?
  2. What’s the difference between a 130 million dollar project and a 65 million dollar project? Is there a difference?  I guess what I’m saying is I find it really odd that preachers criticize Christians that drive BMWs or Mercedes cars but yet they’re driving around Ford Expeditions and Honda V6 Accords.
  3. The building of the Tower of Babel isn’t what upset God. It was the hubris after it was built – not for God’s glory but to make a name for themselves…

 

Okay, there’s a difference between a 65 million dollar project and a 130 million dollar project but my point is maybe you have to examine the big picture all over again

which is what I think Jesus the Christ invites us to do.  The Kingdom he was teaching and living seemed “different.”

But this is for realz: Everything’s bigger in Texas.

Okay, I’m lying. It’s hard to defend and this disturbs me immensely but why? I guess that’s the cue for you:

What do you think?

Here’s the article from the Dallas News:

First Baptist Church of Dallas today announced a $130 million capital campaign to build a 3,000-seat worship center, a religious education building and parking garage, a glass concourse, and a sky bridge.

The project promises to transform a stretch of downtown’s St. Paul Street, near the attention-grabbing Arts District.

“The finest facility in this area should be one that glorifies almighty God,” said the Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas.

Five older buildings on the church campus will come down, but the 1890 sanctuary – where the congregation has long worshipped – will remain for weddings, funerals and other special events.

Jeffress said an independent church fundraising consultant, Doug Turner, had determined that this is the largest church building program in modern history.

The congregation stood in affirmation of the deacons’ unanimous call for a capital campaign, beginning in the spring.

But a formal vote by members is expected in a couple of weeks, after question-and-answer sessions.

Jeffress told worshippers that more than $62 million has been pledged or given already.

Dallas Tom Leppert led the congregation in prayer at one morning service and afterwards called the building project “a very important investment in downtown Dallas.”

 

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60 Responses

  1. DK says:

    excuse me while i go throw up and punch myself…

  2. Chris Peltier says:

    I think this makes God weep

  3. [...] "In defense of a 130 million dollar church building project," by Eugene Cho. [...]

  4. csinclair says:

    that 62 million was from a mere 20 or so families.
    @chris. flesh it out a bit. why would it make God weep? first from the Bible, then second from Eugene’s stated questions.

  5. Jake Johnson says:

    Eugene,

    To your point on the Temple, as a church, we are now living stones built upon the cornerstone of Christ.

    “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5)

    Later, in the same passage, Peter compares us to the priesthood saying we are a holy priesthood. Peter is making a statement about how the nature of worship, which included the Temple, has fundamentally changed. We no longer need large extravagant buildings to house the Spirit of God. We are now all living stones in the beautiful and glorious temple that is the Church.

    You are right to point out that God cared immensely about the Temple; it’s just that through the work of Jesus, he now cares about building his Church – and we don’t need $130 million buildings to do that. In fact, by some perceptions that might hurt.

  6. lukedaniel says:

    Reading this, the only thing that I am reminded of is the giant cathedral that I saw in Antigua Guatemala. The history of the building and the conquistadors who built it was tragic. Yes it was magnificent. But instead of it being a place to worship god it was an altar to the conquistadors who built it. No wonder an earthquake destroyed it 80 years after it was built. It was difficult not to recognize the symbol of oppression.

    If only the church in Dallas would realize that the reason they can build it is that the profit that they have is bound on the backs of this worlds third world countries. From Sweat shops to child labor. If only they would open their eyes.

  7. Amaryah says:

    The thing is, I don’t think God has a problem with nice churches, but since when was it necessary for a church to be 130 mil to be a nice church? You can so have a beautiful place to worship without all this excess. Side by side gymnasiums? Really? Sky bridge? Really? Pool topped with a cross, really? Furthermore, this church they’re planning on building does not look aesthetically pleasing at all to me. It looks like an addition to an industrial park.

  8. lukedaniel says:

    *If only the church in Dallas would realize that the reason they have the resources to build this 130 million dollar tower of babel is that the resources that they are using were obtained by the indirect oppression of our worlds third world countries. From sweat shops that cut overhead, to women coffee pickers who are paid less than a dollar a day to pick 100 lbs of coffee (The plantation owner makes 100 bucks off that 100 lbs and Starbucks makes 7,500 $ off that same 100 lbs of coffee). If only they would open their eyes.

    (Sorry I got so frustrated I didn’t take time to carefully write the latter half of my response. This is better.)

  9. csinclair says:

    point well made. also, the tabernacle served a purpose in the same way, but was mobile for a reason.
    seems like there’s 3 options when you put yourself in their shoes (i know, hard to do):
    1. do nothing. go to house church model. give $ to the poor or other fill in the blank nobler reason.
    2. renovate on the cheap. put half into renovation, half into the poor, and hasten the day it’s converted into a museum installation of America’s past.
    3. do nothing. just stay the same. continue to pay money into a building that is not used.

    few things that you might not know:
    -they renovated their energy management last year, and saved, I think, a few hundred thousand in electric bills. They’re currently one of the greenest facilities in all downtown.
    -you only hear about big texas money going to the building. might that be the tip of the iceburg on their other investments and what those Doners invest in annually.
    -it’s already half paid for. just after the announcement. unlike most NGOs, the IRS is baffled by religious organizations that place 100+ mill annual budgets entirely on ‘projected’ money that doesn’t exist.
    -FBC built on that land over 100 years ago, before downtown practically existed. the real estate value alone is a stewardship issue that’s not easily dismissed. forget religious duty for a sec and think about it fiscally.
    -given the stated reasons thus far, you might as well become irate at your local government when they want to build a downtown library in the financial center of the south, and you go out and tell them to just scan the books and put it all online.

  10. steve h. says:

    My idea is for the Dallas Baptists is for them to put money into programs and preserving their current”historic building”. If they need a large gathering place, Jerry Jones just built one for his Cowboys nearby. I’m sure he would rent it on Sundays to help pay his mortgage.

  11. I think the tension is that it would be very easy for this building to become an idol, something that defines the people, as opposed to something they use. But only they will know the answer to that.

  12. csinclair says:

    yes. that’s the ‘money’ issue: defined by it. pride from it. danger.
    @steve h: the building isn’t historic. it’s disfunctional. the actual building isn’t being utilized in a strategic way. Jerry Jones. nice joke. at least try in responses folks. i’m really interested.

  13. Sam Mahlstadt says:

    My main issue with this is the claim that it will help them reach the next generation. This seems insanely out of touch to me – a giant building seems to go against everything the next generation is calling for – authenticity and generosity. Thanks for your take on this, good read!

  14. You also got to look at it culturally.

    Whom are they trying to attract (that being the keyword)?

    I will contend they are not trying to get younger.

    If they say God told them to do so, then let it be so.

    In the end, my God will be glorified.

  15. I honestly do not have a problem with this, at least not on the face of it. Not saying that as a pastor I would lead this charge, or saying bigger, more expensive buildings are always better… but I do not know enough about the organization to know if their priorities are truly Biblical priorities and if they are truly following the call of God for that particular congregation in that particular city in this particular time.

    For those who have a problem with this and feel like this money should go toward the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, etc. … I ask you, how do you interpret Matthew 26:6-13?

  16. Julie says:

    I’ll be pondering point number two. At what point do we know “This is a worthwhile and modest expense for a building/pastor’s salary which allows us to create sacred space and honor our leaders while still fulfilling our mission to take care of our greater community” versus “This is an inflated and ridiculous expense for a building/pastor’s salary…” Whose definition of “worthwhile and modest”? Whose definition of “inflated and ridiculous”?

    Certainly we see 130 million and most of us respond by tagging it as “inflated and ridiculous”. And I’m not going to argue that! But you’re right: before we start condemning this obvious excess, we have to look closely at our own assumptions of what is necessary in a church budget. (I say this as someone supported by a church budget, so in some ways it’s more of a personal reflection than anything else. Should I expect to be able to afford a brand new car of any model as a ministry family? Perhaps not. I think it’s reasonable to expect to be able to pay bills and save for emergencies, but it might not be so clear-cut as to what that number looks like.)

  17. Bill Kinnon says:

    Jelani,
    Translate Matthew 26:6-13 in context. This was an act of worship towards the One who brings salvation. It was not justification for extravagant buildings and a profound ignoring of the poor – no matter what 1st World Evangelicals want to do with this verse.

  18. Liz says:

    I live in the Dallas area and from what I understand the present sanctuary is not close to being full for worship. It is true that some of the present buildings need repair/renovating and I could support that kind of project if it was done in a modest fashion. However, this seems extravagant and obscene imho. I don’t understand how the pastor and congregation aren’t embarrassed about the extravagance and statements like “$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.” – like so many times in the past it makes church sound and feel like a country club. I know that the unemployment rate in Texas is very high – it would be a much better campaign if they were trying to come up with $130m to help people who are out of work – but truth be told they probably would never get people to donate much to that campaign which I believe is the consequence of preaching a self centered gospel.

  19. eliseanne says:

    I am reading Shane Claiborne’s book Jesus for President. He writes about the Temple as being something God did not want – that God chose to live in tents with migrant, homelandless people.

    Shane also writes about the Tower of Babel as humanity gaining too much power and unity outside of God, which led God to destroy it and confuse their languages. Because that kind of power corrupts people and they do things just because they can, because they have the power. Unity and harmony now can only come through God’s efforts with ours.

    I also think of Dr. Rah’s book and the section on materialism; that we define church success by how many people our auditorium’s seat, and how beautiful our building is. And how the modern architecture is trying to reach people through looking like a mall or a downtown building…

    When i read the quote that the most beautiful building in town should be one that glorifies God, i got angry. I dont know if this building glorifies God “better” than a hut that is filled beyond capacity, where everyone is squished together as they worship.

  20. Stephanie says:

    For all we know, these people do give a large amount of their money to other causes. It’s borderline judgmental for us to assume we know how they use all of their funds, and say they need to focus their money elsewhere.

    We’re also quick to assume that people who have money and live far away and are doing things that we don’t do are at different places than we are spiritually. I deeply hope that a church this size (people, financially && tangibly) is founded on prayer and has a good accountability system.

    It makes me think of that weird parable where Jesus seems to condone a shrewd manager.. he’s encouraging us to use our finances to invest Heavenly. Those people could have easily spent the millions on themselves, buying a huge house or ridiculously expensive shoes or lavishing it upon themselves.. but they gave it to their church. They committed it to being used for building the kingdom. and even though it doesn’t look like we want it to, it would be horrible for us to spend more time talking about how stupid they are than praying for them.

    However, I wish they would have used some of that money towards other things. If I got to vote on if it should happen or not, I’d probably vote no.

  21. Dennis says:

    In general, I believe its okay for a church to build a nice building. The question to ask is, “Is the cost of building this worth the long-term ministry opportunity?” A nice building can be used for many things – build up disciples, reach the lost, train leaders, etc.

    Whether or not something is too much or not is really relative. My Honda Accord is somebody elses “Lexus” and another’s “Pinto”. I believe that, in general, about church buildings too. $60MM might be too much money in many people’s eyes. And $5MM is too much to other people. Context is important.

    That being said, the church should consider the witness of building something that costs that much. Perhaps the church can afford to build a $130MM building, that is, they have the means and it doesn’t hinder them from doing other meaningful ministry. But what is the witness to the community and the world.

    Could they build a perfectly adequate and beautiful building for $65MM and dedicate the other $65MM of the campaign to local and global causes? Perhaps. And perhaps the witness to those outside the church would be more attractive.

    I’m not saying that the church should or shouldn’t do this $130MM project. I’m simply suggesting that the church should consider the witness of something like that.

  22. joshuadf says:

    There is a theologically detailed chapter about giving in Tim Keller’s excellent book _Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road_ that I recommend.

    I feel challenged by this every day. Should I give more by spending less on food to the detriment to my health (and the health of my children)? How about that nice place I live? What’s the balance?

    If I attended FBC Dallas I would argue against this expense, but as an outsider (not even a baptist!) I feel like I have little to say.

  23. Nourisha says:

    i’ve wrestled with our level of comfort in this country, my own specifically, while i know all of our gains have been on the backs of others. this country was built on slave labor and our corporations today continue to profit from it’s first cousin — cheap labor. i know God expects more from our stewardship and i wonder what He will have to say about our extravagance when it’s all said and done. we can all do more individually, but you have to wonder what 130 million could do in the lives of people whose country probably doesn’t have that as GDP. i don’t bemoan pastors and such for driving BMWs or having jets and whatnot since i don’t bemoan CEOs. clearly they see their status as equal to their corporate counterparts. and i am well aware that God indeed blessed those who served Him if you read the Bible. but it’s hard to marry the two visions when you know schools are failing, families are failing apart, children go hungry, domestic violence and violent crimes are a reality and homelessness is only growing in places where these mega churches exist. how much outreach is going on in those communities? our modern church is excellent with inreach, we seem to suck rocks at outreach. i’m just saying….

  24. Very good debate–many great points. I have seen the inside of church building, as a church staff member a few years back, and saw how church members got fed up with the emphasis placed on the building during the capital campaign. You have to give “as God provides,” and then you lose your job and cannot pay your faith promise. I remember some had been to a church of our same denomination in another city, and talked about how people worshipped with joy while sitting on folding chairs. The argument that “the young people will come if you have a beautiful building”–it does not hold water. Very interesting to hear that the current auditorium is not full….

  25. Nourisha…I love what you have to say. Good looking out.

  26. John R says:

    this further invests the church in sustaining itself as an institution, a priority that often comes at the expense of fostering authentic, healthy lives of genuine faith in individual members.

  27. Amber says:

    comparing this to God’s temple in the OT is a stretch as it had to be magnificent because GOD dwelt there. Now God is in our hearts (if a Christian) and our bodies are the temple. And we put to much emphasis on the “building” the church is the body of believers. What is also sad is that this is reach the next generation, what about the lost or unbelievers. Is this really going to attract them. Just as one other poster said, the next generation or unbelievers are skeptical of the massive churches because of money and they want authentic relationships, not ornate decorations.

    I don’t personally care how much people want to spend on things but don’t say it has to be grand to glorify God. That’s just ridiculous and an excuse for extravagance.

  28. Eugene Cho says:

    Great comments folks.

    @amber: yes, i agree. it’s a stretch.

    What I want to hear is ‘why’ people often have such adverse responses to these kind of stories?

    Is extravagance in itself wrong? Always wrong?

  29. Art Mealer says:

    Three words: wood, hay, stubble.

    That builds pretty substantial looking stuff down here. No doubt, God will continue to do some work through this church (since He is able to work through the likes of us, just as He used Israel when they rejected Him and chose a king to lead them instead). OK, back to work…

  30. @Eugene: I’m not sure whether they should build this church but I can tell you exactly why I have an adverse reaction to this story: I think I could do better with that money.

    I’m envious that they have such massive resources and they have no skill at using it to address real needs. It’s like watching someone give a boring presentation that nobody’s enjoying for an hour when you know you could do much better. It frustrates me because I want them to go in a different direction but I have no means of intervening and I wish they and I could trade places so I could make better use of their resources.

    Practically speaking, I think the building of the church is a non-issue. Pastor Jeffress could just as easily have asked the congregants to waste $130 million on abstinence-only education, fighting gay marriage, preserving white culture, fighting mixed-race marriages or some other ridiculous plan like those that many congregations buy into every day. Personally, I think they should give the money to World Vision in one lump sum with no strings attached :)

  31. Eugene Cho says:

    @jack canty: dude, when will you show some love for one day’s wages. can we get a few of those funds?

  32. m@ says:

    @lukedaniel: “*If only the church in Dallas would realize that the reason they have the resources to build this 130 million dollar tower of babel is that the resources that they are using were obtained by the indirect oppression of our worlds third world countries. From sweat shops that cut overhead, to women coffee pickers who are paid less than a dollar a day to pick 100 lbs of coffee (The plantation owner makes 100 bucks off that 100 lbs and Starbucks makes 7,500 $ off that same 100 lbs of coffee). If only they would open their eyes.”

    huh? This sounds like an anti-capitalist thesis. care to clarify a bit? I’d expect most of the donations come more from Texas oil men who simply make money off of providing an expendable natural resource to a market that demands more of it. How’s that oppression?

    @Dennis: fact is, to the outside world, ANY capital campaign undertaken by the church is usually too much when pastors use frivolous statements like “we gonna glorify the Jesus with this thing!”. It’s fascinating how much more in tune the non-believing public sometimes seem to be with Christ’s personality than the Christians are. :)

    If they used more, I dunno, practical terms like “structurally unsound” or “over capacity given our current programming”, I think it would be viewed as an appropriate investment.

  33. Susie Anderson says:

    Sometimes when I read the responses to these types of building excesses I start to feel we’re no different than the Pharisees, who would say “thank God we’re not like those people.” Perhaps it’s a way to justify one’s righteousness to say we’re not like they are (the Dallas church). Meanwhile, Rome (American culture) continues to burn before our very eyes. It might make us feel superior for a few moments, but then the reality of abortion, broken marriages, broken children, sex outside of marriage, poverty, racism, sexism, etc. starts to sink in; at least for me it does.

    D Anderson

  34. paulglavic says:

    They could always recover the cost by selling Personal Seat Licenses and season tickets. Talk about ‘name it and claim it.’ It’s nice to know your seat is safe during those busy Advent and Lent Sundays. They could name it the “Eternal Security Package.”

    @eugene – Seriously though, the question I’m asking is “Will their neighbors be better off because of this decision?” If so, how much better? It seems there are tons of wiser ways to spend that kind of money to bless the area and still have a viable, attractive, hospitable space for their large church (for a tenth — if that — of the cost). That’s why my response is adverse.

  35. Kathryn Sciba says:

    Wow! What an enormous project. I wish we could get people motivated to give big sums like that to fight global poverty… Hey, P.E., perhaps you should pay that church a visit to ask them for some donations for ODW! :)

  36. PL says:

    Absolutely not. How about checking out Acts 17:24-25? It seems to be more about what kind of church building we want to worship in than what kind of temple God wants to be worshipped and dwell in. Honestly, do we think God cares? God is worshipped in the slumps, in the mud houses, in the farmhouses, whereever His people gathers to worship Him in truth and in spirit.

  37. pastor nahum says:

    Dil munafiq tha shab-e-hijar main soya kaisa,

    Aur jab tuj say mila toot kay roya kaisa..

    Zindagi maiN bhi ghazal hi ka kareena rakha,

    Khawab dar khawab teray gham ko paroya kaisa..

    Ab toH chehrun pay bhi katbuon ka ghuman hota hai,

    AankhaiN pathraey hoi haiN lab-e-goya kaisa..

    Dekh ab qurb ka mousam bhi na sar sabz lagay,

    Hijar hi hijar marasim main samoya kaisa..

    Aik aansoo tha kay dariya-e-nidamat tha FARAZ,

    Dil say baibaak shanawar ko daboya kaisa..

  38. Maybe these Baptists need to read very, very slowly the Sermon on the Mount, and the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew?

  39. chad says:

    if they really want to build something for the glory of God howsabout they build a ministry in their city that transforms lives and communities for the glory of God? i’m not personally familiar with Dallas so i can’t say what specific needs that city has however i would bet hard cash that they exist.

    i can see how a facility can be a part of this, but it seems to be secondary to the actual work of being the Church. and my gut reaction is that it is excessive

  40. Andy M says:

    There have already been quite a few good posts here, so I’ll try not to repeat much.

    I think that they got a poor deal on their investment. $130 million buys a 3,000 capacity worship hall? I would expect that $130 million would buy at least 15,000 seats. This design alone proves the point that this expense is not meant to be for the benefit of the community around them, but to be a pedestal on which this church can place itself, a palace where the rich can pride themselves on “being faithful”.

    Now, to be fair, I have little doubt that these people meant well. I have no doubt that they believe that God would smile upon their palace. But I can’t help but feel that they worship a very different God than I. Nowhere in the Bible do I see any evidence that God is glorified in such extravagance. Jesus, God in flesh, was born in a barn (possibly a cave used as a stable), was a poor man living in a tiny country on the very edge of the Roman Empire, with no political or religious significance in the world at that time.

    To find extravagance, you had to go to Roman cities, all of which revolved culturally around Rome. With the Emperor claiming himself to be God. I’m sorry, but it is easier to find similarities between this church and Rome, than this church and Jesus.

    To deal with Eugene’s question, “Is extravagance always wrong?” Honestly I can’t say. A large part of me wants to say yes, because it is usually connected to the chasm that separates the rich from the poor. But I have to concede that a certain level of extravagance when it comes to some things, like art, may be justified.

    I think I can express my thoughts like this: A symphony is made up of many many different kinds of instrument players. And while each is beautiful in it’s own way, when they come together they can make extravagant music that I believe does glorify God because of the creativity and beauty of it. But when the players begin asking for “golden” instruments, and “golden” halls to play in (literal and metaphorical), a line has been crossed.

    @Someone who mentioned that we don’t know how much these people who gave money for this church, give to other good things. True, we don’t know, so we cannot specifically say anything about them because we may not be able to confirm the truth of it. But in a bit of research that I have done lately, I have read that the richest Americans tend not to give their wealth away very much. There are a few exceptions, so it is not an absolute, but in one article I found that in “2003 the average taxpayer with an income of more than one million dollars gave only 3.6% to charity.” Now, as thankful as I may be for the 3.6%, I think it very revealing about the average millionaire’s priorities.

  41. Eugene Cho says:

    @andy m: that’s the post i needed to hear. thanks.

  42. danderson says:

    Research has also shown that conservatives are more giving than liberals. Perhaps some people like to walk the walk while others just ….talk the talk.

  43. Came across this elegy in Rilke’s Book of Hours:

    “Somewhere gold dwells in an indulgent bank
    And is intimate with thousands. But to the copper coin
    The blind man, that beggar standing there, is like
    A lost place, like the dusty corner behind the cupboard.

    All along the shops money feels at home,
    And parades by dressed in silk, carnations, furs.
    He, the silent one, stands in the pauses
    Money’s breathing makes, sleeping or awake.

    O how does it close at night, that ever-open hand?
    Tomorrow morning Fate will fetch it again and hold it out,
    Day after day: bright, wretched, endlessly fragile.

    Till finally some astonished onlooker understands
    And praises its long endurance
    Sayable only by the singer. Audible only by the god.”

    Well, technically I’m Roman Catholic so to criticize another church for spending a 130 mil. for bling seems a bit out of place (hell, we got one little painting worth that!). Still, most us folks fall somewhere between the opulent splendor of the Vatican and the vow of poverty lived by Mother Teresa. Can’t help feeling a little envy though. Yeah, they could split some of that cash with the poor; but is it really the money that’s holding back God’s kingdom, or keeping Jesus from feeding the hungry and healing the sick? What is God waiting for? Why doesn’t God do something? And just who are these “lost” that the 130 mil is supposed to help find? Are they the one’s who read the Gospels but don’t follow the way of Christ? Folks that just can’t accept God’s love? Fallen, broken people, selfish and fearful; people with blood on their hands? Mother Teresa wrote in her recently pub. Private diary, “I want to smile at Jesus and hide if possible the pain and the darkness of my soul even to Him.” Maybe building cathedral’s in Rome (or Dallas) is one of the ways we ‘smile’ at Jesus, one of the ways we hide our darkness and pain. Obliged, Daniel. (lost on Whidbey Island)

  44. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    Pass the sick bag. Even if we were not in the middle of the worst unemployment in decades and 7 million homes weren’t in foreclosure and even if Christians already weren’t known as clowns, jokers and buffoons due to men like Osteen and Ted Haggard and Paul Crouch, this project is outrageous on its face. Jesus, who came in poverty and lowliness, is going to be taught by Americans in gleaming towers of wealth and privilege? This is why Christians are a laughingstock. Someone needs to evangelize First Baptist with the real Gospel.

  45. Dave says:

    I am literally sick to my stomach…

    I dont even know where to begin.

    First of all I am so saddened by the way in which this church has misunderstood their salvation. They see themselves as beneficiaries of Gods salvation rather then seeing themselves as stewards of the Gospel. If they stopped to think about anybody else but themselves, and the thousands of people dying everyday not knowing the gospel, they would realize that God does not care about big buildings and stupid fountains. God does not need those things to glorify godself. He is glorified through people who obey him when he says to the rich young ruler, “sell all your possessions and follow me.”

    First Baptist Church of Dallas, have you not learned from scriptures? Israel tried to build the temple to house God, but God does not dwell in temples built by human hands. Read Isaiah 66.

    I agree also with Ingrid. In the midst of all the people that have lost jobs and are hurting, this is the most antithetical thing to what God would call us to do in times of pain and suffering.

    As much as this church states that they are doing it for their own glory. There not. Its selfish, arrogant, and it drags the name of Christ through the mud. No wonder secular culture thinks Christians are arrogant, selfish, hypocritical and bigoted! ahhgg. I have to stop. This is simply everything opposite of what I know to be true about God and faith.

    I wish someone would speak truth to this church. Im done and spent.

    • CAROLINE STROOPE says:

      I definitly agree, they are arogant and selfish to build a church of that size. And will they pay one cent of tax on that property? And Dallas wants to raise property tax on the rest of us.
      Shame, Shame.

  46. Kacie says:

    Question. I’m in dallas. My church currently has a building project. To be fair, we existed for something like 7 years without a building, meeting in high school gyms and such. However, by the time we had about 3,000 people we realy needed a building. They threw up an auditorium that we meet in now and are continuing to build the permanent structure. It’s not lavish or extravagant by Dallas standards BUT since I grew up in Indonesia, it often seems that way to me.

    We are not going into debt over it, but I am still uneasy about it. Why don’t we split into church plants instead of growing bigger and bigger? Why do we have to have such a nice building?

    So… right now they really need more money in order to complete the permanent sanctuary. My husband would like to give to that project, I would specifically like for us to earmark our giving away from the building project since I feel uneasy about it. The hubs may be a little uneasy as well, but he says that since the elders of our church made this decision, we should support it instead of being bitchy and withholding money from where they need it most. I feel like the congregation should give where they are passionate about – same as we give our time and service to where we are passionate.

    Thoughts? I thought our discussion about this related to the debate going on on here, Eugene.

    • stephen says:

      hey, honestly sometimes i feel that breaking up into smaller church plants is the way to go, but i think that PERHAPS… and that’s a big PERHAPS it’s because we want that name of having a large church. i know where i am, that’s what people want, they want to be known as the big church. if we’re honest though, that kind of loses the purpose of church (i.e. community). i mean seriously one of the reasons that people give for going to big churches is because they can just go and leave without anyone noticing… :P

  47. Andrew Murray says:

    Quick question … several posters mentioned the unemployment issue in protest of the church’s building project. But won’t this building project create jobs for the local construction?

    I’m not saying this in any way justifies the extravagance, I’m just saying I’m not sure it makes sense to criticize a building campaign in the midst of a recession on this basis.

  48. Andrew Murray says:

    Whoops, should have read “construction industry” at the end of that first paragraph.

  49. H says:

    Eugene: Just dropping in a comment for the first time on your blog. When I read your post about the building project, I was taken back a little bit. I suppose because $130 Million dollars is a lot of money. Thinking about how we ought to spend our money, you compared luxury cars like BMW to nice cars like Honda’s with V6 engines, which makes it a tough line to draw in some respects because you would have to ask how much is too much and how much is just enough. But I think if we are to be stewards of the things God’s given us, then perhaps we ought to evaluate our lives and see if we are investing in earthly things or heavenly things. For example, if you buy a luxury car b/c it’s nice and a status symbol, it’s very different from buying a van to drive the neighborhood kids to youth group. In the end, I think we have to examine our own hearts, and see what God is telling us as the Lord of our lives.

    So for this church in Dallas, I’m not sure what the right answer is. That’s a question they have to struggle with I suppose. Because I think that’s what happened with another church, and their story struck me in a different way when I heard about it. It’s Francis Chan and Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, which ended up building an outdoor amphitheater for $1 Mil instead of the original $20 Mil when they needed to expand, giving instead to a lot to charities and doing good for the needy as well as the community, while at the same time not limiting the ability to do ministry. In many respects, I think this shines before men the glory of our God far more than a magnificent building.

  50. Andy M says:

    @Kacie,
    I understand your feelings about it completely. I was a part of a church plant a few years back and we were paying rent for a small building when we only had up to about 30 people. There were several families that had houses capable of gatherings that big, but we “had” to have a building, spending $1700 a month just for rent. We barely had the money to pay rent, and sometimes didn’t, but we “had” to have it. How many churches around the country go into serious debt to have a building?

    We are far too attached to the idea of having a special church building. I don’t say that it is wrong to have one, but it needs to be fully justified, and fully utilized, and most are not either of those. So much of our money goes to maintaining our buildings rather than benefitting the poor, hungry, and homeless.

    @H,
    I didn’t know that about Cornerstone, and it makes me respect them quite a lot. $1 million is still a ton of money and makes me cringe, but considering it was 5% of their original plan, that shows a serious change of thinking on their part.

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  52. This is a huge reason why we left the building years ago – and, began a home fellowship with whomever wanted to fellowship with us… just as it is described in the Book of Acts!

    What is happening in America is nothing more than pure paganism through and through…

    “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…” Acts 17:24 (see Acts 7:48)

  53. Personally I think the whole 130 million stinks. If the rapture came tonight, how are you going to take new project to heaven with you, Dr. Jeffress? Also, when I look at this project, this NEW AGE SHRINE — and that’s exactly what it looks like to me, I just get sick. I’ve been a member of First Baptist Dallas for a long time and seen the sancuary full everytime, hardly ever an available seat to find. Why? because Dr. W.A. Criswell preached the word of God with his heart. Furthermore he didn’t worry whether it made the rich person angry or the poor person angry. He preached the word of God as He was lead by the Holy Spirit.

    Just like what is going on in Washington today under Obama, trillions of dollars, now it’s the church. Dear God, how I miss Dr. Criswell, and the old hymns! Oh yes, he even preached out of the KJV because he understood it.

    Well, I’m quite ill, and I know I’m going to be going to Heaven before long, but until then I’ll spend my money on John 3:16 mission. They help people — not build buildings!

    I’m so upset and it’s late and I’m angry. If this money you want to spend on this shrine goes through, I’ll not walk in the door of First Baptist Dallas again. I just feel sick because this shrine is to glorify yourselves, not God. I really am hurt over this.

    Marcia

  54. [...] to jail could’ve paid for the rover!Even modern day churches are swimming in opulence.  Take the First Baptist Church down in Dallas, which is one church out of FSM-knows how many doing the same thing.Recently, First Baptist Church [...]

  55. [...] The church complex reveals the power and wealth of the church membership. I wonder if anyone dared to ask if there were better uses for 130 million dollars?   Not according to Pastor Robert Jeffress. In 2009, Jeffress stated: [...]

  56. In the early 70′s I had a professor, friend, mentor named Dr.ray Muncy at Harding Univerdity, history and western Civ. Specialist. Who made a statement that has stuck with me all my life and despite trying to find an exception a cannot find him wrong in his statement.
    He said….
    That throughout history, when a culture began to build larger sports stadiums and sports arenas than it did cathedrals, basilicas and churches it was destined for quick fall.
    We are there.
    SO
    I’m glad to see a large complex like this.
    But compare it’s cost to the last big sports construction.
    Also this quick observation.
    Did you notice what the major emphasis was in the story about the facility?
    The TWO gyms and the the Hugh swinging pool.
    Just saying all this in support of the Church Comminity,

  57. Markus Sisneroz says:

    I feel like that $130 million could be going towards something more than just a facility. We have 126 million kids dying from starvation each year. But for some odd reason religious leaders seem to think a new, unnecessarily big and luxurious church is what $130 million should be going towards, and not the handful of problems we have in this world.

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Wow. Good morning from Seattle. The view of Mt Rainier from our home. Prayer matters. It's a reminder of God's presence. Prayer sustained Kenneth Bae in a labor camp in North Korea for 765 days. After he came home, we prayed. (photo  credit: @no1camerauser) I love family reunions. Mother and son. Welcome home,  Kenneth Bae. It's all grace. Grateful for the opportunity to share at  #TEDxHanriver in Seoul, Korea and talk about our family, faith, and @OneDaysWages. Praying that many were fascinated by my Master. The epic view from up high at Nakuru National Park,  Kenya. #latergram Attempting to be the world's greatest smartphone photographer. #kenya #africa #impala #nakuru

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