Should churches buy properties?

Churches are cornerstone of a community. Nothing is as distinct or as soothing as seeing a church building when you are new to a town, because you know that it will be a place where you will be welcomed. Even the sun shining through the stained glass windows symbolizes a ray of hope.

For regular people, buying real estate as an investment is usually a good idea in the long run. There’s regular income if you rent it out, and there might be a capital increase due to inflation, your roof doesn’t depend on the whims and fancy of a landlord, so there’s no doubt that property is a good idea. However, as a charity, should churches use their flocks donations to invest in property?

Churches are viewed as religious institutions and money and religion do not mix. After all, God tells you to give alms to the poor, not to use all that money to make an institution rich. It might be okay to buy the building that you are housing your parish in but to purchase and own other investment properties in an effort to make a profit, might be fishy.

Mega churches are the norm these days and their following is impressive due to their usage of technology, lasers, huge sound systems and the emotional connections they forge with their followers often lead to them getting large sums from tithing.

But who regulates how the churches use these funds? We hear of greed destroying the common man ( that’s like a clear sin ) but shouldn’t pastors and priests know better?

Maybe not.

One such church that got into trouble recently was the City Harvest Church in Singapore. The church recently made headlines after its founders were found guilty of misappropriating funds, and channeling them to fund the Pastors wife’s career.

However they first raised eyebrows when they announced plans to buy the  Suntec City Convention Center worth millions of dollars. Even after the guilty verdict, the local newspaper reported that the investment in was still doing well. (link)

Properties in Singapore are already well known for being extremely expensive. Singapore recently gained a reputation for being a playground for the rich and this definitely contributed to rising prices. Being a tiny republic with a stable government, there’s no surprise that even airspace is chargeable. The government issued property measures affecting foreigners to quell the hot market, to prevent a market crash in the event of an interest rate rise by the Feds.Even with plenty of new apartment condos under construction i.e. plenty of supply, prices are not going down as expected.

What’s your opinion of mega churches running themselves as businesses? Are we prudes to suggest that religion and money be kept separate? Or should churches be allowed to operate on financial consideration because it serves the greater good and allows them to spread the gospel on a much wider level? After all, people are attracted to money and anything that allows us to spread the word of God is a good thing, right?

Church Building and Property Characteristics

Church Building and Property Characteristics

Episcopal Property

A typical church architecture is the how structures used by believers are designed and set up.

Day in day out this architectural design of a typical church is developing from simple to more complex structures, with some taking the design of others structures surrounding them and others coming up with new more complex designs that are meaningful according to their beliefs.

Some like the Catholic Basilicas and Parish Churches are Always set up with some consultation and with a Regional believes attached . These structure at times act as landmarks in the areas they have been set up.

There is a difference between the churches built in the 4th century and those that have been built in the 20th century due to the introduction of more permanent materials of construction like steel, iron, diamond, concrete, ballast and others.

Historical Development of the typical church design/architecture .

The first structures constructed to be used as churches were just simple structures usually built of mud and wattle plus other available local materials and probably thatched using grass or other materials.

The structures improved and got roofed by iron sheets and with time there have been more progress on the church structure of today. From that simple locally made structure, the churches have been really modified to fit several wants and to favour certain conditions and also beliefs of the Christians constructing them which is an achievement of all times. And it has as well evolved from the simplest structure to a permanent attractive building, with very unique properties and characteristics.

Elements of a typical christian place of worship

There are some elements that should be considered and actually put in a typical church architecture.

  1. Steeple. 
    • Its an addition to a church which often gives the building an aesthetically pleasing featur and also enhances the harmony of the design .The steeple usually the highest architectural feature in an area and provides a landmark for people to find a religious building from any part of town or villages or neighbourhoods nearby.
  2. Church bells.
    • They are usually located within the steeple and often serve as a communication device to the local town people.It signifies the time for worshippers to gather for a church service and could also be used like a warning to people incase of fire or other danger approaching.
  3. A Nave.
    • A nave is the central and principal part of a Christian Church extending from the entrance and is sometimes called narthex; to the pulpit area and its sometimes called a channel or presbitery.
  4. Channel.
    • It is usually designed in the front part of the church from which the service is conducted .This is where the pastor(s) and choir are often located ,usually on a raised dais. However, in some church designs,the channel and the nave are not architecturally distinct .
  5. Baptisery.
    • This is usually a pool that is built into the floor or the wall of the chancel area and usually used for the practice of baptism by immersion.
  6. Altar.
    • It is also known as communion table and is in the chancel area that the clergy use for communion.
  7. Stained Glass Windows
    • Stained glass windows are coloured glass made of metal oxides as well as glass on which colours have been painted and then fused in a kiln.It is very common to see religious figures painted on these windows and it also provides a beautiful aesthetic to church goers. These windows may also be the highlight of a particular church, with people flocking all over the world to see stained glass paintings from a part of the world.
  8. Pulpit
    • It is a raised platform or lectern in a church or chapel from which the preacher delivers a sermon .
  9. Cross.
    • A bare cross is used to reflect the fact that Jesus overcame his suffering and death and is risen while crucifix has an image of Jesus depicting the suffering jesus went through.

Factors to be considered

There are some few factors to be considered while deciding on the typical church architecture to use .

1.Human factors.The typical church Architecture should answer the question “How big should it be?” and is determined by the intended use ,capacity of congregation ,furnitures and equipment requirements.The architecture should consider the number of the that can comfortably sit and their spacing and also consider fire exit pathways.

2.Environment .Its important to understand the climatic conditions of an area in which you are planning to put up a structurein order to create a desirable environment for the inhabitant and also deal with most efficiently with the weather’s impact on the building.

3. Denomination.Different denominations or branches of Christianity might have a certain preference. For example, check out this you tube video on architecture that is specific to the Catholic Church.

Which of these properties on sale have the obvious characteristics of a church?