So our church's annual meeting is this coming Sunday.
We're pursuing building a bigger building primarily because we need more space for fellowships times/shared meals, etc. Times when the entire church body needs to be sitting around tables (and eating, LOL). But why can't we make better use of the space we already have? We do have fellowship hall space already (classrooms with folding walls that we rearrange for dinner each Sunday afternoon over ht summer), it's just not quite big enough for our current attendance levels.
Last summer someone asked if we could run a couple extra tables up the center aisle of the sanctuary to relieve the space crunch inside (in air-conditioning--we do also set up some tables outside, but when it's in the 90's and the humidity is 70% and higher, it's just nasty out there). "But why would we want to ruin the carpet in the sanctuary too?" was the immediate question raised (by a teenager, no less). In a sense I understand the concern, (especially since their family is a major part of our church's janitorial service, (although the tone wasn't a self-serving one), we ought to take the best care we can of the facilities we have. But really, that's just bad theology.
People are the body of Christ. The building is just a tool. If the purpose of the church is to edify and equip the saints, how does having a dedicated "holy" sanctuary help accomplish that end?? We're looking at spending half a million dollars to prop up your bad theology? Really??
We *could* solve our space issues for a lot less money by ripping out the pews and getting those wicked cool chairs instead. Make our current sanctuary space more multi-purpose. But I doubt it'll happen anytime soon. Too many of the "old-guard" (though not necessarily old in years) still view the sanctuary as that "special place" where voices may not be raised, little feet may not run, and food shall absolutely never be consumed (other than the elements of the Lord's table, of course, LOL).
Several years ago we were looking at a similar building project. I happened across a great little book titled "When NOT to Build" written by an architect. He included his testimony in the beginning of the book--since it seems kinda odd for an architect to be advising against building, LOL. His opening point was that too often we jump to building bigger buildings (and spend the Lord's money) before we need to, before we've made effective use of the space we already have (good stewardship anyone?). He goes on to outline how churches in that uncomfortable "almost too full but not quite" stage of growth could make more efficient use of their existing space until the need for building is real, not just perceived. :-) Great little book, highly recommended reading.
So... what to do?? Spend WAY more $$ than we need to to prop up bad theology? Maybe we should. What price can you put on unity??
So we had our annual business meeting before I could get this posted, LOL. After a fair amount of discussion, we voted to table the "chairs instead of pews" discussion for exactly a month. Give folks who heard the proposal for the first time today to get their theology up to speed, LOL. Most cogent dissent? "Might there be a change in spirit with a (slightly) less formal setting?" and "Could we have a bit of time to think and pray about this?" ('Not necessarily' and 'yes' being the answers.)