101 South College
We are the church.
If you have spent any time around us at Soma you have probably heard us say, “The church is not a building, we are a people chosen by God and set apart for his purposes in the world.” It is a bell that we continue to ring. That said, Soma does have a building where we regularly gather for worship and equipping on Sunday. It is a necessary but expensive and unfortunate line item in our budget. But if you are too big to meet in a home, your options are limited as a church. What are ya gonna do?
Maybe the problem is not that church buildings are a necessary but unfortunate expense. Maybe the problem is that our buildings are too often underutilized. That is why we started from the ground up thinking about what the Church is and how we would use the property that God has given us to manage. Our building probably is not what you might first think of when you think church building. It is not just a place for us to gather, it is a tool that we are using to help finance our disciple making mission and our #morelikeheaven initiative.
The problem with church buildings is that most of them remain empty 6 days out of a given week. Aside from providing a place for the staff to office and members to gather for bible studies, most church buildings lay fallow throughout the work week. That is a lot of real estate and a tremendous investment to go underutilized. Second only to human resources, costs associated with leasing or owning and maintaining a piece of property is a tremendous financial burden for a church to carry. And too often the financial concerns associated with investing in and maintaining church buildings have an inordinate amount of influence in the decisions churches make. Rather than investing the church’s time, talents and treasures toward missionary endeavors and benevolence in their communities those resources are often routed toward activities and costs wholly associated with what happens inside the church building. And tragically, some churches are so crippled by the concerns associated with their property that they willingly dilute the gospel message to keep butts in seats and maintain the bottom line.
“A church budget is a theological statement.”
You can tell what people prioritize in their lives by the way they spend their money. For some folks, social status will drive them to finance a car that is far beyond what their income should afford them. And they are willing to struggle to pay their other bills and forego a better living situation just to drive something that makes them feel important. Churches are often no different.
Church staffs and pastors often invest with the wrong priorities in mind, too. Rather than prioritizing mission and financing the church to go and make disciples, they prioritize gathering the church and drawing their communities into beautiful buildings for religious events. And when you consider that an investment as large as a real estate investment is only fills the building an hour and a half every Sunday morning, it becomes painfully obvious that something is off. An hour and a half a week equals 6 hours a month. And 6 hours a month only equals 72 hours a year. That is a very short amount of time to occupy a building when you are paying a lease or a mortgage that covers you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
The church is not a building, it is not an event, and we are not an audience. The church is a set apart people sent by God to make disciples and to saturate the earth with the knowledge of the glory of Jesus. That cannot happen when we allocate most of our resources toward drawing in crowds to our buildings rather than resourcing the church and sending them out into the world to make disciples.
Church budgets are theological statements. They say something about what a church believes about what the Church is and how the Church is called to live in the world. And as the pastor of Soma, I am not satisfied utilizing our property the way most churches utilize the buildings that they have been given. I cannot be satisfied with it because our doctrine of the Church will not allow for it.
That is why we are doing the things that we are doing at Soma the way that we are doing them.
What if what you gave to our church actually went to gospel ministry and benevolence and not to our landlord or our utility company?
That is the question we have been asking as we looked at finding a place to call our home. What if all the offerings that we receive on a Sunday morning went entirely toward the mission of making disciples and caring for orphans and widows? What if the resources that Jesus has given us to manage were freed up so that our church budget began to more accurately reflect our theology of the Church?
The answer to those questions has materialized as 101 South College.
The space that our church gathers is not branded with the name of our church. Rather, we have simply called it 101 South College to remind ourselves that the Church is not a building. 101 South College is just the place where Soma happens to gather for a couple hours a week.
101 South College will be used as wi-fi lounge for Waxahachie in the hours when it remains unoccupied by our church. We will serve specialty teas, coffee, and snacks at a name-your-price cost. In addition, we plan on renting out the main room where our church gathers as an event venue for corporate events, receptions, parties, and weddings.
The revenue from these donations and event rental will go directly into the church budget to cover the bottom line operational costs associated with our church. This will in turn free up the gifts that we receive from our members to actually go to the things that they really desire for them to go.
When you come we go.
Our church has put a tremendous amount of energy and resources into this project. And whether you are part of this body or not, we hope that you will come and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Come, have some sweet mint tea and feel really good about drinking it. Because when you come and name your price for a glass of sweet tea you are doing a lot more than enjoying a refreshing drink, you are also financing our ability to go and make disciples and love our neighbors well.
For more information about 101 South College, visit www.101soco.com.
For booking information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about #morelikeheaven, visit www.morelikeheaven.com.
Soma is partnering with God in his relentless pursuit to put the world to rights. Our prayer is as Jesus prayed, that God’s will would be done here in Waxahachie as it is in Heaven.