Letting Go: Yep, We Need to Go that Far


Mindi Welton-Mitchell writes that the church needs to “let go of the building” in Letting Go. She builds her case well but stops short when she states, “I’m not suggesting everyone go out and sell their buildings.”

I disagree. We need to go that far.

Until we give up our property, the church will continue to be viewed as — and in fact be —  hypocritical. When Jesus called his first disciples, “immediately they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:20 NRSV Read in context.) They left the security of their fishing business.

They left security and control behind to follow a scruffy messiah who didn’t seem to know how royalty should act. Jesus was the President without secret service protection or Air Force One. He took on tasks considered beneath royalty. Jesus washed the filthy feet of guests, went to the outcast, ate with them, touched the untouchable, and in the process gave hope to the oppressed.

He did not build a synagogue and call people to him. He walked among the people.

The cost of discipleship to Jesus is ceding control to God. Following Jesus requires disruption of our lives of consumerism to seek justice in a world of unjust actions and systems that oppress. Leaving our safety nets behind, we hear the Spirit along a path that branches away from material security.

Followers walk among the people, learning from and with them. Though we sometimes fail, we strive to be God’s loving, empathetic presence in a world of indifference. The church, however, is too often about security. The institution of the church itself possesses capitalism’s symbols of success: property and financial investments.

Property has become Christians’ idol that keeps us from God.  We feed our property-god with new roofs while people sleep under bridges. We slash Educational ministries, missions to those in need, and even Evangelism budgets when our golden calf demands new paint, carpet, or stained glass. With every expenditure we fear opening our doors to those in need will spoil the splendor we’ve created.

The time has come for the church to leave our nets and business behind and risk it all for the One we claim to follow.

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This entry was posted in Christianity, discipleship and tagged , , by Tim Graves. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tim Graves

Tim strives to share God’s extravagant love for all–no matter what & without strings. Seeking to follow the lure of the Spirit, Tim writes about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in an era where Christianity has come to be associated with hatred and political wedge issues. “Heinous things have been said & done (& still are) in the name of the One who breathed in the Divine,” notes Tim, “but Jesus shows us that God loves extravagantly.” Following the teachings and life of Jesus is about inclusion not exclusion. It is about compassion, grace, and admitting no one has all the answers. It is about responding lovingly to the best of our human ability. It is about people not institutions. It is about social justice. It is about caring for creation. It is about being who we were each created to be. Tim is a former early childhood educator, a runner, a hiker, a devoted husband, father of two adult children and their spouses, and a grandfather of two perfect babies. The former pastor of the Condon United Church of Christ, Tim recently began serving the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Albany, Oregon. He writes from home, from the coffee shop, and wherever the trail leads him.

4 thoughts on “Letting Go: Yep, We Need to Go that Far

  1. As a pastor of a church that did sell the building I am able to share there is something quite refreshing and heroic about the process. However it also feels like the desert at times as well. Having no place to gather can be very difficult. For instance, the interfaith building project was always fed from our kitchen, but will be by one of the temple’s kitchen. Seems small, but how wonderful is it to have physical resources when needed. I agree with Mindi, that churches need to change their mindset about what it means to own a building, and for many that may mean selling and/or using it in new ways reflecting the Divine and not prestige or worse survival of a past. I too recommend selling, yet I do hope there are some that can understand what it means to have a building, so I may borrow it for ministry.

  2. If you can find a school or other place that meets the need of your congregation, by all means! Don’t be too quick to get a facility. If you have a facility that is empty much of the time then find someone to share it with. If it is the wrong fit, and you can find the right fit to borrow or rent, do it!

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