The Incredibly High Cost Of Overhead

Most contemporary Christians mistakenly view the church building as a necessary part of worship. Therefore, they never question the need to financially support a building and its maintenance.

The church edifice demands a vast infusion of money. In the United States alone, real estate owned by institutional churches today is worth over $230 billion. Church building debt, service, and maintenance consumes about 18 percent of the $50 to $60 billion tithed to churches annually.208 Point: Contemporary Christians are spending an astronomical amount of money on their buildings.

All the traditional reasons put forth for "needing" a church building collapse under careful scrutiny.2" We so easily forget that the early Christians turned the world upside down without them (see Acts 17:6). They grew rapidly for three hundred years without the help (or hindrance) of church buildings.

In the business world, overhead kills. Overhead is what gets added on to the "real" work a business does for its clients. Overhead pays for the building, the pencils, and the accounting staff. Furthermore, church buildings (as well as salaried pastors and staff) require very large ongoing expenses rather than onetime outlays. These budget busters take their cut out of a church's monetary giving not just today, but next month, next year, and so on.

Contrast the overhead of a traditional church, which includes salaried staff and church buildings, with the overhead of a house church. Rather than such overhead siphoning off 50 to 85 percent of the house church's monetary giving, its operating costs amount to a small percentage of the budget, freeing more than 95 percent of its shared money for delivering real services like ministry, mission, and outreach to the world.2"

-11 Smith, Going to the Root 95. George Barna's research indicates that Christians give $50 to $60 billion annually to churches. Howard Snyder demolishes most common arguments for "needing" church buildings in his book Radical Renewal: The Problem of Wineskins Today (Houston: Touch Publications, 1996), 62-74.

For a discussion on why the early Christians met in homes and how large congregations can move into house churches, see Frank Viola, Reimagining Church (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 20081.

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