Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 27, 1967

Fine Houses For Worship

David Lipscomb

(Gospel Advocate, January 28, 1892)

We understand the Standard calls in question our statement that there has been talk of selling the Central Church building in Cincinnati, because too expensive to keep up. We are sure such has been the talk, and the reason given was, so many of the wealthy members have moved to the suburbs and united with churches out of the city, those remaining are not able to keep the church up. We have word of the talk down here. It comes from persons doing business in Cincinnati.

We understand the Standard adds that we seem to rejoice in the matter. We do not rejoice, but sorrow at the laxness or weakness of the disciples in Cincinnati or elsewhere. This whole talk has been brought about by the society folks from Ohio and Missouri, decrying the destitution in Tennessee, in order to help fasten on us a society. We know the cry was either hypocritical or founded on dense ignorance. We determined to expose it, so no honest man can hereafter raise the plea.

But, candidly, when the Central Church house was built and such a flourish made over it in the papers, we published that we believed it both a blunder and a sin to put so much money in a house used only a few hours a week. We believed it would hinder instead of forward the cause of true religion in Cincinnati and elsewhere, hence was a blunder. We believe it a sin against God and his people to put such large sums of money in a building, when so many thousands and millions of our fellow creatures are suffering want and going down to hell for lack of the truth. We believed, and still believe, that this expenditure is not to honor God, but to minister to human pride. This is sinful.

I still believe such a waste of means to gratify pomp or pride a sin. I would have rejoiced if they had built a modest and economical house then. I will rejoice at anything that will now bring the church in line with Christian propriety. Yes, I would rejoice if they would sell the house and build a dozen simple, modest houses for worship, that correspond to the principles and aims of the Christian religion. I would be glad if they would volunteer to do this without being forced to it; but, if they will not do it otherwise, I will be glad if they do it of necessity.

Once the disciples in Nashville built a fine house, when they ought to have built a half dozen modest ones. It was the occasion of trouble, and was burned up. I was in the pulpit at Philadelphia Church, in Warren County, with Brother Rex Murphy, when I heard of it. I publicly expressed my joy at the result. I still think it was a blessing from God.

When I hear of a church setting out to build a fine house, I give that church up. Its usefulness as a church of Christ is at an end. The church at Dallas, Texas, has spent a large amount to build a house finer than any other house in the State. It has burdened itself with debt. It has shown its lack of the Christian spirit, and its promise of usefulness for the future is not very flattering, to my mind.

In Arizona there is not a single preacher giving his time to reach the dying multitudes of sinners in that state. A little handful built a house costing several thousand dollars, and have been compassing the whole world to get money to pay for it. People that start in that fashion cannot convert sinners, and we believe it would be a blessed thing if the house were sold and the temptation to travel in the wrong road taken out of the way. It is not Christian to spend the Lord's money in this way, while sinners, ignorant of the will of God, are dying all around them. My conscience has hurt me all the past year at the appeals that have been made for this house through the Gospel Advocate without a protest from me. If half the money required to build this house had been spent in having the gospel preached in the State, a hundredfold more sinners would have been saved.

The brethren in Atlanta are proposing to build a thirty-thousand-dollar house. They do not ask my advice. None the less I give it without cost. It will weaken instead of strengthen them. Half the money spent in preaching in the destitute suburbs of Atlanta, building a few modest houses, as needed, will save a hundredfold more sinners, and God will reward such work. He will not reward us for building houses to gratify our pride. Yes, brethren, I rejoice when you fail to build fine houses. I rejoice when you sell them. I rejoice when they are burned down and replaced with modest houses that comport with the church of Christ.