A few years ago I was talking with a top Wal-Mart executive. I voiced to him that I felt they needed a new store at a certain location because the present one was not as cool looking as some of the new ones. He grinned at me and said, "We are not in the 'being cool' business. We are in business to make a profit and grow shareholder value. That is what we do and why we exist. The store you reference is highly profitable and able to serve our customers quite well. When we see that it is not going to be so or that a new one will readily produce more profit, we will remodel. Until then we are happy."
I have also witnessed the opposite by businesses. Just today I was reading about a prominent businessman whose lifetime of assets is being auctioned off for inability to make payments. He had a very profitable business and he used it to look cool. He had his own private jet and hanger. He had several houses in a row. He had a magnificent horse farm and did lavish parties for the whole community. Now he is broke! What a tragedy.
Which one of these best describes your church? Too often I see good churches start making decisions to look cool when they are in the building process. They begin to do things that have no real relationship to their mission, but it looks cool. No one seems to be looking at the bottom line. In working with troubled churches I see a common pattern. The decline began when they over built and over borrowed.
The question to be asked is, "Will this investment improve our bottom line and if so to what extent?" The bottom line for churches is disciples for Jesus Christ! This should be how we measure any investment as a church. The return is in new lives for Christ. So, how many more disciples will be made by putting computers in every classroom? How many more disciples will be made by having rocking auditorium seats versus straight back? How many more disciples will be made by having offices that are 20x20 versus 10x15? How many more disciples will be made by using brick all around versus just a brick front? Does the elevator need mahogany paneling or will wall board make just as many disciples?
I am not arguing that our churches need to look cheap or be poorly made. Not at all. I am arguing that we must remember our mission and remember that good stewardship means always doing as we feel the master would have us do. He said clearly, "Seek first the Kingdom of God," and "Go and make disciples!" This is the mission. It is the sole reason we should do whatever we do. If you are in a building process, is this the primary question guiding all discussion? It should be!