May 31, 2017

Church Building Use

The discussions on the use of space in our society can sometimes be controversial, they include debates on whether to designate open spaces for parks or golf-courses, commercial spaces for industrial or retail business or housing for low-income or gated communities.

Likewise in our faith communities there are continuous discussions on how to make the best use of the spaces within our church buildings. For many, the default is to use the church for worship only and hold church committee meetings as necessary. While this internal-use model is simple, functional and more secure it does raise the issue of whether the space is being used optimally.

On the other extreme is the church where not only is the space used for worship, and church committee meetings, but also external community programs and social programs and everyday there is some activity. In this model, keeping track of the church’s schedule as well as the additional expenses for utilities, maintenance and insurance may place a burden on the congregation.

When decisions are being made about building use there are many areas for consideration. Examples include:

a) Will there be a monetary charge for additional income, or will the space be offered free of charge
b) What type of organizations will be allowed to use the space, e.g. political, social, educational
c) Who will have the responsibility for opening and closing, setting-up and cleaning, scheduling and securing the building

Additionally there should be a contract developed that outlines the rules for building use including days and time-frame for meetings.

As in the larger society we should strive for balance in the use of space. For congregations this would ideally mean honoring our ministry for missional outreach and our life together as a worshipping community.