Should traditionalist congregations rent space from organizations we otherwise find problematic?

23 Apr

In the Reformed tradition of which I am a part, many if not most of our churches have their own buildings, but some rent space for worship and/or midweek church activities in other spaces, of various kinds; sometimes in school gymnasiums (sometimes from Christian schools but other times from secular, public schools); other times in ethnic community halls, or service club / fraternal organization halls (e.g. Lions or Rotary; or Shriners / Masons, Orange Order, etc.). And other times, congregations rent church buildings belonging to other denominations, sometimes evangelical churches but more often than not old mainline Protestant churches; sometimes these are hardly used at all any more by the denominations to which they belong; other times they are still used regularly, and so our service times have to be planned to be sufficiently separated from their own, if possible, so you don’t have overlap of cars in the parking lot (space limitation issues), etc.

And I know this is not only true for my tradition, but for other Reformed denominations / federations, and not only, but there are many other cases of various denominations renting space in other churches. (For that matter, a Reformed church I previously belonged to had an Asian evangelical congregation renting space in it. And that scenario, of newer ethnic congregations renting older churches’ buildings, is fairly common.)

Returning to the specific subject of conservative, traditionalist churches renting space in church buildings belonging to often heretical, if not outright apostate, mainline Protestant denominations, or to secular public schools (which already get government money, and which all too often attack the beliefs we hold, and those students in them that are faithful believers), fraternal organizations we may find problematic (whether Freemasons or Orangemen or other lodges), part of me wonders: should we be giving them regular financial support this way, week by week? I mean, I understand the way elders in our churches must be looking at it: simply as an economic transaction. They have a space they’re not using or not using all the time at least; we need a space, therefore let’s rent from them. I get that, but OTOH, when I’ve been part of a congregation meeting in, say, a mainline Protestant church building, and I see their sign out front reading ‘Minister: Rev. Jane Smith’; their ‘inclusive’ songbooks or worse, ‘inclusive’ ‘Bibles’ in the pews (even though we’re not using them), their stupid multiculturalism-and-‘diversity’-promoting banners on the walls, and I think, many of these congregations are or would likely be struggling but get regular life-saving injections of money from us traditionalist conservative confessional orthodox Protestants, I wonder why the hell we are subsidizing our enemies. Same with when we meet in a secular, public school gymnasium; we’re giving more money to a beast that already has its own means of financing, including against our will, in the form of our tax dollars, and is often teaching godless, atheistic secular humanist anti-Christian worldview prog agitprop, against everything we believe; why should we give them one red cent more than is extorted from us by the State through our taxes?

If we can’t afford our own buildings at a particular time, shouldn’t we at least find a space to rent space from that either supports something we believe in (e.g. a Christian school gymnasium) or at least something we’re neutral towards (e.g. a Lions Club International or Rotary International hall)? Wouldn’t that be the most godly use of our money, even if it isn’t necessarily the cheapest place to rent? Would not God be more honoured by such a decision, rather than giving money to our enemies?

I mean, surely it’s one thing to buy an old building outright from an apostate / heretical mainline Protestant denomination that isn’t using it, giving them a one-time injection of wealth, then owning the building for ourselves thereafter; it’s another to regularly financially support those who oppose the true Triune God and His ways and His people and what we believe in, stand for, and practice, in our day to day lives, voting, etc.

Of course, until we have our own buildings, we could alternately meet in each others’ homes – like the early church did (see here, here, here, and here). (I’ve myself belonged to churches that have done this, and have found it a blessing.) I don’t know why that alternative isn’t more popular, given that it is directly Biblical…


Posted by on April 23, 2017 in religion, spirituality, The Kulturkampf, Theology


21 responses to “Should traditionalist congregations rent space from organizations we otherwise find problematic?

  1. infowarrior1

    April 23, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Catholics have their mobile altars. So I wonder if we reformed have our own equivalent that we can set up. I consider aesthetics very important in worship.

    • Will S.

      April 23, 2017 at 8:02 am

      We don’t believe in altars, though.

      • infowarrior1

        April 23, 2017 at 8:07 am

        The reformed have aesthetic tradition do they not?

      • infowarrior1

        April 23, 2017 at 8:08 am

        God designed his own temple to be full of artwork and gilded with Gold. So there must be something that can be mobile that can come along with renting space.

      • Will S.

        April 23, 2017 at 8:11 am

        Depends who you ask. For the most part, very bare-bones. You should attend more often, then you’d know.

        If anything, when Reformed congregations rent other churches, they end up with something more artistic, most of the time.

      • infowarrior1

        April 25, 2017 at 8:45 am

        I understand. And I am probably going off into another topic. Works of beauty especially of places of worship are passive forms of worship.

        Else why would God give his spirit to people to skill in craftsmanship to create beautiful works in constructing his tabernacle and sacred objects?

        Or give his plans to David in a vision to construct the Temple with artwork upon artwork gilded in gold?

        Even works of beauty in and of themselves glorify God who put such talent in men.

      • Will S.

        April 26, 2017 at 2:22 am

        I’m not saying I fully agree with the approach the Reformers, esp. Calvin, took; I think an argument can be made that he and the Puritans went a bit far, in their striving for Protestantism to be unlike Roman Catholicism, in a number of things, from a capella exclusive psalmody to non-observance of Christmas, to church architecture; condemning monasticism completely, and more.

        But it is what it is.

  2. Hoyos

    April 23, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Just as an aside, I suspect home worship isn’t more popular more due to parking issues than anything else. The only home church service I have ever attended was at a home out in the country. In many suburban and urban settings, there is no real public transport and even small gatherings can easily result in inconvenience for the neighbors, possible zoning problems, etc.

    • Will S.

      April 23, 2017 at 8:37 am

      Having lived both in the country and the city, I know whereof you speak, but I also know that people can find a way to make it work; even in big cities, here, people will flock to someone’s house for a Bible study, and so if it clutters up the street, so it goes…

  3. Sean

    April 23, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Also Reformed here. I’ve got no issue with renting space from either other denoms (Lutherans, for example) or even the pseudo-, “Well they believe in God, amirite??” denoms like SDA. Grace Family in Houston, formerly the chuch in which Voddie preached, rented an SDA church until they got locked out and God Providentially got them a building.

    God meets with His sheep where ever they may be… perhaps you might also be overlooking the evangelism opportunities that could be held just prior to worship?

    BTW, when I come back to Ontario on vacay, I can’t find a Reformed congregation near Lindsay/Peterborough other than Westmount in Ptbo. Email me at the addy here if you know of one since I know where you’re from.

    • Will S.

      April 23, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      See, I’m of two minds; on the one hand, I’m accustomed to it, and I don’t want to make mountains out of molehills; on the other, I hate, hate, hate, the idea of our money helping prop up denominations that deny the gospel and promote SJW, prog values, or public schools which definitely don’t need the money, and spend our tax money already on evil…

      No, I’m not overlooking such opportunities, because in my experience, they’re quite scarce; often, because of trying to avoid overlap of one group leaving while another is arriving leading to clogging parking lots, different denominations using the same space will temporally space out their meeting times far enough so that the different groups aren’t in the same space overlapping. Thus, they don’t meet, and so there is no opportunity for evangelism. Besides, mainlines aren’t generally open to such, because they feel they’re fine with what they believe, that they’re Christians, and might well be offended at efforts to proselytize them; certainly, they tend to look askance at old-fashioned missionary work in far-away countries, “let them have their own culture; stop imposing western belief systems on them”, etc. etc. I used to be mainline; I know how they think. I used to think similarly, in many ways, yet not all; as for my path, it was very circuitous, but it certainly didn’t involve active evangelization of me by anyone during my mainline years. But I digress.

      I can recommend a place 3/4 of an hour away or so from Ptbo, but I don’t know of any solid confessionally Reformed churches there. If that’s close enough of a drive for you, sure, I can email you about it, if you like.

      • Sean

        April 25, 2017 at 3:13 am

        I hate, hate, hate, the idea of our money helping prop up denominations that deny the gospel and promote SJW, prog values

        +1 here but I keep one thing going through my mind…. What would the difference be if the church rented a storefront owned by a Muslim who gave our rent as his zakat? Would there be a difference had the storefront at one time been a Native joint in which there had been rampant paganism? God’s sheep will get fed where ever they congregate. I used to attend a church out west here that rented from a Lutheran congregation whose impastor was a hard left woman. Rev. Dr. Impastrix Leftist.

        Sure, perhaps I’ll take a drive on a Sunday morning that far when I’m in the area. I assume the place you have in mind is somewhere down Hwy. 28 or 7E?

      • Will S.

        April 25, 2017 at 6:48 am

        Actually, I have attended a church that meets in a Muslim public school classroom; that also disturbed me, somewhat…

        Yes, you’d go down 7 and 35/115. I’ll email you.

  4. feeriker

    April 23, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    When I lived in the D.C. suburbs, the tiny Assembly of God church that I attended had this problem -or, so they thought. They met in a local public elementary school’s cafetorium on Sunday mornings and were obsessed with aquiring their own property -even though there were never more than 40 people in the congregation eavh Sunday. The school was very accomnodating, even providing a custodian on weeknights to open up the building for prayer services, so we certainly didn’t feel discriminated against.

    Still, “property” became an obsession for the pastor and elders. My suggestion that they focus their energies on evangelistic outreach so that they might grow the congregation to the size at which property acquisition might be realistically justified (property prices in the D.C. suburbs of Maryland and Virginia make property ownership by most small churches impossible) were met with confused or hostile stares.

    Alas … to my knowledge they haven’t either grown or acquired property in the 11 years since I left. It could very well be too that the school district is less accommodating than in the past.

    • Will S.

      April 23, 2017 at 11:59 pm

      Crazy. There are many options available, from meeting in homes to renting the local Lions or Rotary club house, to renting a community college lecture theatre (assuming it’s one focused on job training education and not activism), etc.

    • Will S.

      April 23, 2017 at 11:59 pm

      It isn’t necessary for a church to own a building, though it is nice…

      • feeriker

        April 24, 2017 at 11:29 pm

        It’s been my experience that owning a building goes a long way towards adding the “ian” to “church.”

  5. Will S.

    April 25, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Well, certainly, it puts a church in the norm – which today, alas, tends to the churchian…


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