Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fish Tanks or Flash?

What is the most expensive build you have ever completed and what made it so expensive?
A $4.7 million arch aquarium that we built for IBOC (Inspiring Body of Christ) church in Dallas, TX…..70,000 gallons of magnificence.
Flabbergasted is the word I want to use in this moment. A church in Dallas Texas felt it was necessary to install a $4.7 million dollar aquarium in their sanctuary.

This tank was built by the 2 guys from the reality TV show, "TANKED." Brett Raymer is the COO of Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM). 
I'd say this is definitely a tank of beauty. Seeing God's creation in the form of fish and all manner of sea life is awe-inspiring; it's gorgeous but I struggle with the reason behind putting an aquarium inside of a church structure.
70,000 gallons of water could have been used to provide clean drinking water to the poverty-stricken inhabitants living in the horn of Africa, or India, or any other number of countries. Clean water is a necessity, but a fish tank, even though it's full of salt water? Drinking water! Wells, Bibles translated in native languages for indigenous people. Yeah, that means something to me. As does paying for uniforms and education for those who cannot afford something so valuable.
Have I missed something? Is attracting people to a church with a "wow factor" somehow more relevant than giving them bread and water and the gospel message and a safe haven? Is ministry falling by the wayside as churches become bigger and more extravagant?
The twelve met in homes. They distributed any money that came in and fed people, clothed people. They also had day jobs as I recall, but I digress.
I was equally aghast after watching an interview with Joel Osteen in which he said he was thrilled to have spent approximately 25 million on the children's ministry section of his mega-church Lakewood. Now bear with me, I may have not have the exact figures correct here, but I did watch the interview Joel did on Oprah's Next Chapter. His children's ministry had been designed to resemble a Disney theme park so that the children would love coming to church on Sundays & Wednesday nights. So now we need theme parks and fish tanks.
And Joel makes a valid point in his interview about reaching people. I'll give him that because I'm not writing to bash the man. Again, I question the issue of spending millions to be attractional.
Lakewood is an operation… getting people their to the church, getting people there with their children, etc.
  • If we don’t take care of children people won’t come.
  • If we make the space for the children that’s great, they will want their parents to bring them.
  • It takes nearly 5,000 volunteers to make a weekend happen at Lakewood.

I think we need the Bible, a whole lot of love, and simplicity. Really, I'd probably love to interview the pastor of IBOC about his fish tank idea and Mr. Osteen. I'd like to ask how these ideas became so important in light of community or ekklesia.
Until next time, breathe.


Chris Cep said...

I agree Denine. That money could have been put to so many other, better uses here and in the 3rd world. I think, how about feeding all the kids in Dallas (or Houston, or wherever Joel is) who aren't going to eat a real meal tonight, Joel? But then I always have to check myself. Am I doing all that I can? Probably not. Sigh, the human condition.

Denine Z said...

Yes, Chris I do agree with your points about feeding those in Dallas or wherever. Doesn't have to be in 3rd world situations. It's just that we who have everything often think we have nothing. And the paradox of the two--holding onto so tightly what we have that we can share. That's me checking myself as well. Love u girl.

The Swell Guy said...

I'll skip the whole sushi and baptism and fisher's of men and water in the bible stuff. I kinda wonder what Jesus would have said about a big fish tank in the temple....

Nice post.

Anonymous said...

AMEN & AMEN to all 3 post. Absolute overkill. I'm sure there are members of their own congregation that are hungry and could probably use a warm jacket or a pair of shoes.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever contact the Pastors of these churches? I've been to IBOC and all I can tell ya is, you get a whole lot of Bible (Word), a whole lot of Love, and it is taught in a way that even a child can understand.