Church Buildings
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February 2010 Prayer Letter

February 2010 Prayer Letter

DOWNLOAD PDF - FEBRUARY 2010 DAHLFREDS PRAYER LETTER

 

Dear Friends & Family,Thailand has an evangelical Christian population of less than 1% so it might be fairly asked why we would spend a significant portion of our time discipling Thai Christians. Is not evangelism the more pressing task? Discipleship and evangelism are sometimes pitted against each other but they actually go hand in hand.  The folks with whom we are studying the Bible, talking, and praying have much broader and deeper connections with the rest of society than we can ever hope to have as foreigners.  If we can help Thai Christians become grounded in the Bible so that they are well equipped to both hold the faith and pass it on to their relatives and neighbors, then they will likely be more effective evangelists than we can ever be. 

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Should Missionaries Fund Church Buildings?

Should Missionaries Fund Church Buildings?

When a church building goes up on the mission field, everybody feels good.  The missionary feels good.  The local believers feel good.  The church back home feels good.  Having a church building gives the impression that a church has been established.  It is a visible sign of the Christian faith in a community.  Everybody feels good that the Gospel is advancing and the presence of a church building is a sign of that advance.  Or is it?When the construction of a church building is largely funded by foreign money, the presence of a church building is not a true reflection of the strength and numbers of a local church.  Also, if missionaries (or their home churches) are always standing by ready to supply money for newly established churches on the mission field to build church buildings, then this desire to be helpful can foster two wrong ideas:  1)  church buildings are necessary in order to be a “real” church and, 2) if you need money, look to the missionary (or the well intentioned short-term visitors from their home church).  When the foreign missionaries and their churches are seen as sure sources of money, then the local believers’ motivation to give financially to their own church is lessened and local believers are less likely to make decisions that the missionary doesn’t agree with.  If they do, then there is the fear that perhaps the money supply will be cut off.  In this way, independent decision making and partnership in the Gospel as equals is diminished.  A patron-client relationship harkening back to the days of colonialism is unintentionally nurtured.

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Church Buildings: Helpful or Harmful?

Church Buildings: Helpful or Harmful?
There are not a few church groups in Thailand who are desperate to get a building regardless of how small their group is.  Scripturally, there is nothing wrong with having a building in and of itself but when a small group of believers gets the idea in their head that they need to have a building to be considered a “real” church, then much of their time can become focused on finding money in order to get a building.  But does a church need a building in order to be a “real” church?  According to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ, and all believers are members of that body (Eph. 5:29-30).  The church is people.  Nowhere in Scripture do we see the term “church” equated with a building.  Certainly, if a group of Christians wants to get together on either an occasional or regular basis (such as a weekly worship service), they need someplace to meet.  In Acts, we see people meeting both in the temple and in homes (Acts 5:42) but there is no Scriptural mandate or prohibition about the type of buildings that believers should meet in.   As for those groups of believers in Thailand who end up focusing on getting money for a building in order to be a “real” church, their time and money would best be spent elsewhere - specifically, focusing on growing in Christ and sharing the Gospel with others.  Scripturally, evangelism and discipleship are much higher priorities than getting a “proper” church building (which, I might add, does not even make the list of necessary elements of having a church in the New Testament).

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