Prioritize Gospel Before Church Buildings, Says Presbyterian Leader

Church leaders must set aside sentimental attachment to buildings and concentrate on delivering the Gospel message, says one of the Presbyterian Church of Wales's leading figures.

The Rev. Dafydd Andrew Jones, Director of Life and Witness, said churches were guilty of spending too much time and money on traditional chapel buildings at the expense of investing resources into other needs within the Church and reaching society with its message.

He warned Presbyterians against frivolous spending in an address at the Church's General Assembly in Lampeter this week.

"It is easy to understand that attachments to buildings can develop through life's grave and exciting experiences – but the necessary expenditure on buildings is enormous," he said.

"So we must rise above personal attachment and ask what kind of buildings is required as Christ's hope in that area."

Jones said the kind of building suitable for church depended on the needs of the community and the opportunities it afforded.

He pointed to the example of Community House church in Newport which opens its doors to other faith communities, and seeks peace and understanding within the community.

"Some congregations worship in other community buildings – you don't need a chapel to be able to worship," he added.

He maintained, however, that there were benefits to be gained in some degree of investment in existing facilities in order to better promote the Gospel.

Presbyterian churches in Salem, Cardiff and Rhos-y-Gad have built extensions not only to extend facilities but also to provide a meeting place for the community.

"The emphasis in these places is upon witnessing through being open and being a part of the community," he said.

"What all these chapels have in common is that they all avoid unnecessary expenditure and show that there is more to Christ than worshipping on a Sunday."

The Presbyterian Church of Wales has over 30,000 members in more than 700 churches.