02 February 2009

of landmarks and lamentations

Another local church recently completed a massive new auditorium. Church building projects are, at their best, a difficult balance between meeting local needs and remaining mindful of the needs of the global community.

The recent project I am thinking about sits on a high-profile hill next to a high-profile highway. So, for some reason, the church decided to build a high-profile “landmark for Jesus”. A 123-foot 4-sided concrete cross/tower peers over the surrounding community, ominously lit at night a cool blue effects.

From their website:
The building committee for the project was interested in creating a “landmark for Jesus”. This was addressed with a 120 foot tower that will be internally lit and highly visible from the adjacent highway and surrounding area. The cross can be illuminated in over 16 million different colors and will serve as a landmark for Jesus Christ in our San Antonio community.

A friend who I regularly eat lunch with at a neighboring burger joint always invokes a sarcastic moment of silence as we pass the monument. Then we look at each other and silently lament the waste.

Somehow, I think we’ve missed it again with this thing…Jesus is no more served by the concrete tower than he is by any other righteously-constructed symbol. In fact, he is no more served by a concrete cross than he is by towering golden arches. Jesus cautioned against all things religious and said that true religion was in the care of orphans and widows. He said he came to set the captives free and bring light to the darkness. This “landmark for Jesus” brings light to the freeway. And at a substantial cost.

Look, I would be (am) a hypocrite if I pretended like there weren’t places of waste and mismanagement in my own life. There are many, I am sure. But when are we as the followers of Jesus going to learn that our God is not honored by idols or symbols? When are we going to learn that the millions of dollars spent on landmarks and legacies could be better spent feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and comforting the broken of our world? Wouldn’t that be a more appropriate landmark?


  1. AMEN! I know the place, and I am irked every time I pass. The sad thing is, there are so many all over the world, and most don't notice their own hypocrisy.

  2. I drive by this every morning and every evening and it is a bit on the disturbing side. The neon glow of the crosses make me sad...like some sort of all night diner, except that there probably isn't anyone available to serve you coffee and welcome in from the cold at 2 am. To think of all the children, not only in America but in Third World countries, that could have benifited from the financial donations makes the glow of the neon cross feel like a weight. Glad you're back - Kylo!!! ;) Shannon

  3. I heard a preacher nail it one time...And his church has thousands of weekly attenders spread over 9 (nine!!) services.

    "Let me tell you why the suburbs are so toxic. Everything in the suburbs communicates to you that everything is about you. And there is nothing more toxic to the soul than being self-absorbed. Why would we spend millions of dollars to create an environment that reinforces to you everything that everything else out there is teaching you? It’s why we keep adding services as opposed to building some monstrosity."