Monday, July 06, 2009


Today I ran across an article that made me sick to my stomach.

Templo Calvario, a local Christian Church, unveiled a new $11 Million Dollar Sanctuary yesterday.

Read full story

Reading this article I couldn't help but question the judgement of God's people - and what's more their lack of understanding God's design for His Church.

"For Pastor Daniel de Leon, the idea and inspiration to build a new worship center for Templo Calvario came from God himself.
The pastor often tells his story of how in 1997 "God spoke to my heart and told me, 'Build me a house.'"

When it comes to "building God a house" God clearly says in Isaiah 66:1 - "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?"

God Himself has already promised to build His house, His Temple. He does not need our help to do this.

When King David wanted to build God's house God's response was:

"I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?" - 2 Sam 7:5-7

Why are we still building Temples to God when we already have the Spirit of the Living God living within each and every one of us who follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

In all fairness, perhaps Pastor Daniel simply misheard His Lord? God didn’t say, “Build me an $11 Million dollar Temple” did he? No. He said, “Build me a house” and according to the Bible, the only “House” God wants to build is made up of living stones and a Kingdom of Priests.

In this article one member of this church says, "I can't believe this is now our temple," said Marielena Gonzales, 21. "I can't think of a better place to come each week to celebrate God."

What makes me sad is that God already commissioned a new temple over two thousand years ago. It was also very costly and was purchased at the expense of the God’s own Son. On the cross, Jesus destroyed the temple of His Body and fulfilled God’s promise to pour out His Spirit on all flesh. God Himself tore the veil on the old temple, even as the foundation was being laid upon the Cornerstone of the New Temple of God.

What’s more, these people still believe that they must come each week to a certain place in order to worship and celebrate God. Yet God’s design was to expand His worship to cover the Earth, and to become a daily, living act of praise and surrender and worship to His amazing and Holy name.

It also saddens me to know that this church, (which has become known in the past for her concern for the poor), has wasted $11 million dollars on a cold, empty building and that they have burdened their congregation with a loan payment of over $90,000 a month. Imagine how many of the poor in Orange County could have been fed and clothed for this amount of money? What’s more, this building could have provided shelter for the thousands of homeless who spend each night in the cold and the rain due to our lack of affordable housing and shelter beds.

“The pastor told his congregation to work to recruit new members in order to maintain a strong church community.”

Their solution? Use evangelism as a method of generating enough income to afford the building. Now this church exists to recruit people – not so much as brothers and sisters who are loved and embraced for who they are- but targeted strategically to help afford a building which should never have been built in the first place.

As my friend Mark Main has said:

“Churches have spent more money just on buildings in less than twenty years than it would take to eradicate hunger and many diseases from children in Africa. Add in salaries, utilities, and all the other things churches spend money on and I can only guess how much money has been spent simply on 'the faithful'.

‘That is why I am so frustrated by what I see marketed as Christianity in this country today. Is spending 28 billion dollars on nice buildings for our Sunday morning meetings more important than showing grace, mercy, compassion, and love by helping those in Africa who are dying at a rate of over 25,000 a day from starvation and preventable disease? Obviously, for American Christianity the answer to that question is a resounding YES. You can claim that isn't the case, but the facts are undeniable. American Christianity has basically said that the sickness and starvation of others isn't nearly as important as it's need for bigger, nicer buildings. Do you realize how perverse that is?"

Reading the comments below this article it’s plain to see that most do not believe that this building was worth the cost, nor that it will magically attract new congregants with open wallets and bountiful checkbooks.

People do not want a building. They want to know a God who loves them. They do not want an impersonal club to join. They want to be embraced into the loving Family of God. They do not hunger for giant screen televisions and professional sound systems. They are yearning for an intimate relationship with Jesus.

As Jesus said, "I tell you that one greater than the temple is here." (Matt 12:6) and when Jesus had fulfilled the role of the High Priest and offered himself as the final Lamb of God, and the veil in the Temple was ripped in half, from top to bottom, He made a way for us, the people of God, to become the new temple, not made with human hands, but spreading out over the whole earth, and living as the new priesthood of believers, to make known His Glory among the nations.

We do not need a temple because we are the temple. We do not need a priest, or a pastor, because we are all priests of God, empowered and filled by His Holy Spirit. We do not need an animal sacrifice to be made, because He was our final blood sacrifice, and we are now the living sacrifice, daily dying to ourselves and carrying our cross to follow Him.

Let us not return to the rubble and rebuild the man-made temple. Let us not take up needle and thread and repair the veil that was torn. Let us not commission special priests and clergy who will stand before God in our place.

Our identity, as followers of Jesus, runs deeper than brick and mortar. It transcends a building. It goes beyond ceremony. Our identity as disciples of Christ is defined by a relationship between a Loving God, and a Living Temple made of people who love God, and love others.

You are the only Temple God has ever wanted. He has already bought and paid for this. Let us focus our time and energy on "being the Church", not attending one, or building one ourselves.



Mike said...


Here we have a situation that is symptomatic of what is wrong with Christianity today. This man says G-d Himself wanted it built in an attempt to shield himself from criticism and ridicule. He has laid this sin at the feet of G-d, and it is a sin. Thank you Keith for posting this stuff.

This begs the question, is anyone hearing from G-d? The silence can be deafening can't it.

Anonymous said...

you know, I've been reading this blog for a while and I've noticed one thing. You love to attack the "institutional" church and it's leaders but not once have I seen you try to bring encouragement to them or try to meet them in the middle. You seem to believe that your interpretation of scripture is without err and everyone else better conform if they are a true Christian.

You know what I see when I got to the blogs of these so called "sell out" pastors who have buildings? Them talking about feeding the hungry and people being led to Christ and them encouraging each other and the body of Christ. yeah, they might not be doing it like you want them to, but they are doing what they feel is right. And you know what I've NEVER seen on their blogs? Them attacking the house church movement because they believe it's heretical or a big fat waste of time.

Just my opinion...

Keith Giles said...

Anonymous (if that IS your real name...),

Thank you for your feedback. It's certainly not my intention to "attack" anyone of my brothers in Christ, whether they be part of the institutional church or a simple church.

I meet regularly with a dear friend and brother in Christ who is the lead pastor at a local denominational church of around 3,000 people. I love him dearly. I pray with him and he prays for me and my family as I love and pray for his. We are brothers.

My parents attend a mega-church in El Paso. They love their traditional church. I love them and I have not attacked them for attending this church, nor have they attacked me for following a New Testament church model.

I think what happens is that whenever I point out something in the traditional practice that isn't New Testament (meaning, it's not God's pattern or design) I get labeled as someone who loves to "attack" the Church.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If I didn't LOVE the Church I wouldn't spend hours and hours writing and teaching and studying and blogging to help the Church realize who she is and who God desire her to be with all His heart.

So, if I am coming across as "attacking" anyone in the family of God, I repent. This is certainly not my desire.

However, when I see my brothers and sisters in Christ squander $11 million of the offering on a building and exclaim "At last, we have a Temple!" I am compelled by the Spirit of God to remind the Body that He Himself purchased the only Temple of God over 2,000 years ago at greater expense--His own son, so that you and I could be the Temple of the Living God.

Is this an attack? Perhaps, yes, it is an attack on the lack of understanding we seem to have about who we are in Christ and who He has made us to be. But it is not an attack on any person who misunderstands these things. It is an attempt to help them see what they cannot seem to see.

If anything, I would hope to have Grace for my brothers and sisters in Christ in the traditional church because I myself spent over 17 years as an on-staff pastor, licensed and ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention of Texas and I participated in and contributed time, talent and energy for most of my Christian life into such a form of Ecclesia.

It's only been in the last 3 and a half years or so that I have come to understand the New Testament form of Church in this way, so I don't claim to know everything. I am still learning. I am still in process.

Please forgive me if I have offended you by what I have written.



Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100% that a $11 million sanctuary is ridiculous and is a waste. I just have noticed that most people who espouse the house church/organic church movement are very closed off to any other way of doing church and seem very sarcastic/negative when they talk about anyone that's not in their movement.

I'm a student of church history and I am very well aware that Constantine screwed things up but I also realize that this is 2009 and not the 4th century. Do you think that the "institutional church" can be rehabilitated and have it's focus reshifted or do we all need to do house church? To be honest, I wouldn't be comfortable in a home church but I do agree with your disgust at the waste and greed of the American church. I just can't abandon it quite yet...

Keith Giles said...


I think the only real rehabilitation can come if we fully embrace the idea of the Priesthood of the Believer.

Until we embrace "being the Church" and abandon "attending a church" we'll never become the Bride Jesus died to give life to.

According to Revelation, our identity in the priesthood of believers is part of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross:

"You (Jesus) are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth." - Revelations 5:9-10

So, until we abandon the CEO/Leader/Pastor model and fully become the Body we're designed and intended by God to be, I'm not sure we'll really be "rehabilitated".

Still, it's my belief that God is the One building His Church (1 Cor 12) so this is at His discretion.

We're all in process, I've learned. God is gracious and patient with us and He will sanctify us each individually by His Spirit and He will ultimately prepare for Himself a Bride who is unblemished and radiant and perfectly His own.

Thanks for reminding me to season my words with Grace. In my attempts to speak the Truth, I often must be reminded to mix in the right amounts of Love.

Peace to you.