Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Church Buildings & Church Vision - Maasai Style

My first experience with Maasai church life was one of simplicity. Like their homes, their churches were simple and functional. This picture is actually a bit "rougher" than the churches that I encountered. This one seems to be patterned after their home construction.

The churches where we worshiped and spoke were simple metal roofs on rough rafters with cedar posts. Most of them were open-air with handmade benches. Incredibly, the construction team with our church group built three such "roofs" during eight days on the field.

The vision of the Maasai Christians was incredible! They had absolutely no desire to "fluff" their church buildings with expensive decorations and furnishings. Instead, they wanted to start more churches. On my first day there, the pastor of Ilkushin Baptist Church, a sweet, godly man named George Oneipu, took me out in front of his humble church and identified three hills in the distance in three different directions. He told me, through a translator, that it was their desire to see a new church on each of those hills. Indeed, it was their vision that you would never be able to stand upon a hill in Maasailand without being able to see many churches in every direction!

What an awesome vision and testimony! But how far away from that kind of vision are the churches of North America? We built three churches with $5000 in Kenya. Here in the states, churches with perfectly functional facilities will drop $5 Million for "renovations" in a heartbeat. Just imagine how many new churches could be planted in the United States with the money that our churches throw away on "cosmetics" and "looks."

Are we too busy building fortresses on our own "hills" to have a vision for the "mountains" of lost people that surround our churches? Something to think about. What do you think?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've done mission work in Brazil, but never someplace like Africa. Still, I like simple buildings that look like church buildings that don't become sacred cows. A building with an active congregation can be a great way to do incarnational ministry in a community.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Geoff Baggett said...

Thanks, Adam-
My church had a humble building. We converted a metal building that formerly served as a construction business. We only have about 4,000 feet of space ... and we fill every bit of it. We also have another facility across town that houses our food, clothing, and baby supply ministry.

Yes, buildings can be used as incarnational ministry centers. I just think that having ownership of a church building is being interpreted as less than spiritual within the context of some of the latest postmodern, "missional" fads.

I cannot wait until we have an actual "campus" for ministering in our community. Our vision is for a campus with a park, amphitheater, athletic fields, lake, walking trails ... among others. Isn't providing a place for families to enjoy one another an incarnational ministry?

I think so.

10:20 AM  

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