Thursday, July 16, 2009

Church Building Project - A Different Approach

I read an article on christianpost.com about Bartley Christian Church's building project and the headline was "$16M Miraculously Collected for Church Building".

The article said "
The success of the campaign was due to the sacrificial financial contributions of both leaders and members and to divine intervention, BCC Senior Pastor William Lee noted.

The leadership decided to rebuild the premises so as to ‘maximise’ use of the space the church has occupied since the 1970s as ‘good stewards’ of what God has given them.

They started to raise funds in August 2006, but many members did not see the need for the expansion then.

The Senior Pastor called his leaders together and urged them to set an example of giving. By the end of the meeting, the more than 30 pastors and leaders had pledged $1.7 million toward the rebuilding.

When The Rev Lee again approached his congregation in September that year, they pledged $5.5 million, bringing the total amount to more than $7 million. Time passed and the fund increased to $14.8 million, just $1.5 million short of the full amount.
"


While there is absolutely nothing wrong and it is commendable that the church leadership set an example of sacrificial giving which the members followed, it is interesting to note the difference in approach from NCC to the raising of funds for a church building project.

A number of NCC's church leaders and members may well have given sacrificially too, however what I want to highlight in my article is not the actual giving but rather the way we are taught to give.

If I remember correctly, NCC members were never asked to give sacrificially to the building project. In fact, in his sermon "Arise And Build — Practical Lessons From The Story Of Nehemiah", Pastor Prince showed us how God will provide the abundance for us to sow into the building project. We were specifically told that we do not have to give up this or that to give to the building project; we will give out of our abundance. This is what I call believing in a mega-God.

BCC Senior Pastor William Lee was reported in the article to have said: "Without God, we can do nothing. We can have all the intelligent people, all the consultants that you have, all the experts of church growth that you have – all you have is a mega-church perhaps. All you may have is a church that does church, but the presence of the living God would have left it.

Bartley Church is not looking to be a mega-church… Bartley Church is going to be a church that believes in a mega-God.
" (emphasis in bold mine)

What Rev Lee said seems to imply that a mega-church does not believe in a mega-God and does not have the presence of the living God. However, when you compare the two different approaches of BCC and NCC, which is the church that truly believes in a mega-God? The church which asks you to give more of your limited resources ie. sacrificially or the church which teaches that God is going to bless you with more resources so that you can give out of your abundance?

2 Corinthians 9:9-11 (NLT)

9 As the Scriptures say,

“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”

10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity" in you.

11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.



When a church truly believes in a mega-God, it does not have to be "looking to be a mega-church"; it can't help but become one.


17 comments:

Angie said...

So AMEN! :D

Just got this: when a believer truly believes in a mega-God, he/she does not have to work to look like a 'mega' christian; he/she can't help but become one too ;p

Stanley Wong said...

Amen! Now that is true rest :)

godwordistruth said...

Stanley,
Your comment "What Rev Lee said seems to imply that a mega-church does not believe in a mega-God and does not have the presence of the living God.".

Is this what Rev William Lee is saying and implying ?

You are reading way too much to a standalone comment with absolutely no reference to NCC nor its building project. I don't think you commented objectively to Rev Lee's words and is in fact is being unfair to him. Instead,I find your comment here is loaded with bias with thought that he is making statements which are taking a swipe at NCC.

Relax lah !

Shalom

tilted said...

i agree with the comment above. i'm from ncc and i don't think it's fair to interpret rev lee's comment that way.

blogpastor said...

Hi Stanley,
My opinion is there is room for both approaches of giving or fundraising, since both requires faith, and therefore pleases God.

It was Jesus himself who commended the widow who sacrificially gave her two mites.

Just my two mites worth!

Daughter Of Sarah said...

Ok my feeling is this -

Whilst Rev Lee might not mean to take a pot shot at mega churches, what he said nonetheless, through reasonable comprehension, does seem to imply that a mega church does not have the revelation or presence of a mega God.

I believe that God knows the giver's heart and I dun think Stan is trying to also take pot shots at those who give sacrificially. =)

i think what he means is that whilst we can give with a sacrificial heart, let us remember that Christ has paid the ultimate price to provide us with prosperity (which victory is one of its definition btw) in ALL areas.

And it is true that when He calls His church to rise up and build, what really really impresses Him is when we give knowing that God is a great provider.

Now about the widow- we are also making assumptions that she was giving sacrificially. Could she be giving out of the overflow of faith that her God who has provided her with all things, will provide her with perfect provision?

Giving sacrificially can sometimes end up allowing one to have a I chipped in mindset, when it is GOD AND GOD ALONE who provided even that so called sacrificial giving. =)

Giving from the overflow is giving from a revelation that God is the source and as we give, we are not giving of our own, but receiving from Him so that we can be blessed to be a blessing.

Not sure if I am making sense here lol. I hardly slept last night and am waiting up for the hubby. =)

Stanley Wong said...

Hi blogpastor,

I agree there's room for both approaches but I find that the default mode for many churches is to demand sacrifice from members rather than teach on God's additional provisions in 2 Cor 9:10.

The danger of the emphasis on sacrificial giving rather than God's additional provisions is that when the project is completed, man's efforts are glorified rather than God's provision.

Quote:
"The success of the campaign was due to the sacrificial financial contributions of both leaders and members and to divine intervention, BCC Senior Pastor William Lee noted."
(emphasis in bold mine)

Stanley Wong said...

Hi godwordistruth,

Firstly, I did not say that Rev Lee is talking about NCC.

Secondly, regarding the context of what Rev Lee said, notice that I said "seems to imply" which means that there is a possibility that his comments could be intepreted (correctly or incorrectly) to mean "that a mega-church does not believe in a mega-God and does not have the presence of the living God".

By the way, it is not a standalone comment, he expanded on it (which I have highlighted in bold)...
"Without God, we can do nothing. We can have all the intelligent people, all the consultants that you have, all the experts of church growth that you have – all you have is a mega-church perhaps. All you may have is a church that does church, but the presence of the living God would have left it."

Now, if the way I interpreted the above statement is wrong, perhaps you could enlighten me on the proper meaning of those words? Was it necessary for Rev Lee to mention "mega-church" in his statement? What was his intent in mentioning "mega-church"?

Thirdly, you are reading way too much into my article because I am not writing about Rev Lee taking a swipe at NCC but rather I am writing about two different approaches to teaching about giving. Perhaps you are the one loaded with bias?

Liu said...

Bro Stan

I would say the default mode now is the 3 letters - NCC, for whenever we speak of grace, 100% at least a comment would appear saying we are either pro-NCC or, like in this case, would defend that we should not imply that others are talking or pointing fingers at NCC 8-)

Now, I drive by Bartley Christian Church almost every single day. The new church is BIG (MEGA) and new, very impressive. Me & my wife am glad that many churches are expanding, meaning more & more are added to our numbers in Christ, Amen.

As the Rev has put it, to maximise the church premises, so in other words, is to expand and grow. So one fine day, (I pray it will be very soon - meaning more have been saved then, Amen) the church will grow and viola, she's now a MEGA church! Alas, would the presence of the living God desert (left) it, as the Rev has mentioned! So when should the Rev "stop" the church from growing beyond MEGA?

What I am trying to say is, the comments made by the Rev is absolutely uncalled for. Who is he trying to prove to? Did he think God use him to make a mockery of the body of Christ - other churches? Did he think it is because they "did" right so that's why they have succeeded?

Let me say this: The funds were raised and church re-built by GOD and GOD alone, none shall take credit for it! None shall use it, direct or indirectly, to discredit another church, which is also part of the body of Christ, the bride of Christ. GOD build it for His Name sake, for His bride the church, for His glory, and His glory alone, none shall take credit for it!

Look into the Gospel of John, chapter 17:23, Jesus before His arrest and betrayal prayed that we would be UNITED and love one another so that the world would see!

So we should continue in the business of God, to share the Gospel in the capacity we are called, fellowship and strengthen one another, and not pointing fingers at one another attempting to outdo one another!

Many churches are expanding, so BCC & NCC alone. God is moving, not men. It's the last days. Amen.

Shalom Shalom
William

Timothy P said...

Dear Stanley,

Interesting article and reflection on the BCC article. Just a few comments.

You wrote "what I want to highlight in my article is not the actual giving but rather the way we are taught to give." I believe the Scripture passage you quoted talks about exactly that. "Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor 9:7). This verse talks about the attitude and heart of giving, rather than the amount or even whether we should give sacrificially or out of our abundance. Although verse 11 talks about "be enriched in everything for all liberality" or "be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion," I believe the context of this is really verse 10, which talks about God "increase the harvest of your righteousness". Strictly speaking, the context of Paul's writing in 2 Cor 9 is actually the giving of churches to God's work, namely support churches in need, church-planting, and missions, and not giving to church building projects.

Also, you mentioned to godwordistruth that you are "writing about two different approaches to teaching about giving."

But, you write "However, when you compare the two different approaches of BCC and NCC, which is the church that truly believes in a mega-God? The church which asks you to give more of your limited resources ie. sacrificially or the church which teaches that God is going to bless you with more resources so that you can give out of your abundance?" It seems that you are also comparing the 2 churches, and seem to imply that NCC is the church that truly believes in a mega-God, as opposed to BCC.

Stanley Wong said...

Dear Timothy,
You are right, I am implying that NCC truly believes in a mega-God. I say this in the context of Rev Lee's statement - "Bartley Church is not looking to be a mega-church… Bartley Church is going to be a church that believes in a mega-God." - which seems to imply that a mega-church may/does not believe in a mega-God, and my personal view is that NCC truly believes in a mega-God who blesses you with more resources so that you can give out of your abundance.

I am comparing BCC with NCC because I attend NCC. I cannot speak for other mega-churches because I don't attend their services and therefore do not know their teachings.

timothy_ng said...

Hi Everyone,

If I may, I would like to comment on the word "mega".

I believe the word is use by human beings to distinguish and differentiate. At what point does a church becomes a mega-church. And has the church become so big that we now need a mega-God to be in charge. Would God be more please with thousands of people meeting together or with two or three who have gathered in his name?

In my simple mind, God is God and church is church. What worries me is that after everything has been said and done "All you may have is a church that does church, but the presence of the living God would have left it."

Liu said...

Hi Timothy Ng

I think your mind isn't simple but complex. God's words are truth, but men likes to complicate them.

Jesus said that when 2 or 3 gather in His Name, He WILL BE there in their midst. (Matthew 18:20)

Jesus did not mention any pre- or post requisites, BUT obviously men has added on a lot of what the 2 or 3 or more has to do or should do to qualify before Jesus will be in their midst!

God WILL NOT destroy Sodom & Gomorrah for 1 righteous man. God waited for LOT & his family to escape before He was willing to act. (Genesis 19)

So from your comment, and BCC's Rev comments, it seems to imply that in 20000+ believers who gathered together, there's not even 2 or 3 in the 20000+ who has gathered in His NAME?????

Mine is a simple family of 3. Every Sunday we gather in church in His NAME, and not any other names, and Jesus is in our midst. He will CERTAINLY be presence, because He has promised! Amen!

I am sure there are more than my family unit, or 2 or 3 friends who, like my family, has gathered on Sunday in the 20000+ in His NAME, and Jesus is in their midst, Amen!

Therefore it is erroneous to publicly comment that God's presence can go missing in a congregation of more than 2 or 3 or 20000+!

And I say that even in the midst of such erroneous comments, God was there that nite/day, because He was there for His people, His church, because I am sure more than 2 or 3 has gathered in His Name that day/nite, not because the church is BCC, or NCC ,or CHC, or Trinity, or the preacher is Rev, or Senior Pastor!

Last but not the least, it is the church of God, not men. So to say God is God, church is church is erroneous!

It is God's church and He will take care of it. If the people managing the church mess it up, be sure God will deal with it! God's presence will be in the church for His people. He will not leave His people because the church leaders "cannot make it"!

The church is the bride of Christ, and He will surely looks after it, more than you could ever care for your love ones. No matter how much you love your parents/wife/children, you can never match the love of Christ for His church. You can never watch over your love ones 24 hours 7 days a week, but rest assured Jesus can look after them and His church 24 hours 7 days a week, because the God who watches over you and your love ones, Who watches over His church, neither sleeps nor slumber, Amen!

Shalom Shalom,
William

timothy_ng said...

Hi Liu,

Thank you very much for your comments.

I am glad that you are in agreement with me that God is even present when 2 or 3 are gathered in his Name.

God will also leave the 99 sheep to go after the 1 lost sheep until he finds it. Yes, isn't it such a blessed assurance that's we have such a wonderful of God!

But what I fail to understand is that when a church grows to a certain "mega" size, God can no longer cope and there is a need now to have a mega-God. Why can't the same God continues to look after the church.

So when Christians continues to distinguish and differentiate themselves without discerning that they are in the same Body of Christ then there would be problems.

Your earlier post states it very clearly "Look into the Gospel of John, chapter 17:23, Jesus before His arrest and betrayal prayed that we would be UNITED and love one another so that the world would see!

So we should continue in the business of God, to share the Gospel in the capacity we are called, fellowship and strengthen one another, and not pointing fingers at one another attempting to outdo one another!"

So can we have a God that is God and a church that is a church. To me it is that simple.

Liu said...

Hi Timothy Ng

Exactly, which is why I said the comments by the Rev was, unfortunately, uncalled for.

with regards to Stanley's comment on "mega-God" I think you might kind of misunderstood him. Anyway, I shall leave Stan to say his piece on what you wrote:

"""But what I fail to understand is that when a church grows to a certain "mega" size, God can no longer cope and there is a need now to have a mega-God. Why can't the same God continues to look after the church."""

Shalom Shalom
William

Stanley Wong said...

Hi Timothy Ng,

Rev Lee was the one who used the term "mega-God" - quote: "Bartley Church is going to be a church that believes in a mega-God" - so I used the same term in my rebuttal.

Anyway, when I (and I believe, Rev Lee too) say "mega-God", I do not mean that God becomes bigger or more powerful than He already is.

What I mean is that our consciousness or appreciation of God becomes mega or big ie. we truly see the greatness of our God.

For example, there are churches who preach that God no longer heals diseases. Thus, God is small in their eyes, and they therefore do not believe in a "mega-God."

The Logical Mouse said...

Dear Christians, GOD is omnipresent. Why limit GOD by saying he is mega ? He is everywhere and you can't put a size to Him. Even when you say He is infinite, you really undermine Him.

God bless you all. Mouse.