Monday Morning Insights

Photo of Todd

    Should churches rent their space to Muslims for worship?

    Should churches rent their space to Muslims for worship?

    Steve Stone from Heartsong Church in Cordova, TN is under fire.  You see, he recently invited a local muslim congregation to use their sanctuary as a makeshift mosque during Ramadan while their new Islamic Center was under construction.

    Seems that Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Arlington, VA is doing kind of the same thing... inviting a local muslim congregation to use church space for their Friday prayers.

    According to Cathy Lynn Grossman, the religion editor for USA today, both pastors say that this is a way of 'living out the way of life Jesus calls Christians to live.'

    Not everyone thinks this is a good idea, including Pat Robertson (who publicly spoke out against it) or Jason Hood, who wrote a column condemning this over at Christianity Today.

    Here's a bit from the Christianity Today piece:

    Both of the pastors allowing Muslim worship on their property appeal to the love required of Christians as an authoritative guide for their decision-making.

    The theological issues at play come down to whether Jesus' love command also requires leaders to avoid causing undue stumbling; or, as Wesley put it, the command to do good works includes avoiding causing or leading others to harm, whether they are believers or unbelievers. Does facilitation of false worship violate the love command?

    What do YOU think?  Is this stepping over the line?

    Does your church allow outside groups to use your facilities?

    Non-Christian groups?  (like boy scouts, AA, weight watchers, community groups)

    What would your reasons TO ALLOW or NOT TO ALLOW a group of muslims or jehovah witnesses from using your church?  Or a meeting of the Benny Hinn fan club?

    I'd love to hear your thoughts...





    Like this story? Get MMI in your Inbox Every Monday Morning!


    if you want a Globally Recognized Avatar (the images next to your profile) get them here. Once you sign up, your picture will displayed on any website that supports gravitars.

    1. Doug Hibbard on Thu, January 06, 2011

      I’m actually surprised, a little, that the Islamic groups will use the space, since it’s been ‘profaned’ by worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

      I think it’s out of bounds, though.  I would allow church space to be used for a great many things, but not for something that is at cross-purposes with the church’s purpose of glorifying God.  Especially the “worship” space.  I’d allow a town-hall meeting on an issue in the fellowship hall, but not in the sanctuary.

      So, Boy Scouts, AA, Lion’s Club, would be in-bounds.

      Beer tastings and rave dancing (we’re Baptists), any religion that attacks Christianity as false, and straight politics for any party or individual would be out-of-bounds.


    2. Todd Rhoades on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Thanks, Doug.  I think many would agree.

      I wonder though… what would be your reasoning for allowing a town hall in the fellowship hall but not in the sanctuary?  Is the sanctuary ‘hallowed ground’.

      A couple things always baffled me growing up:
      1.  No running in the church.  (I never saw that anywhere in the Bible)
      2.  No eating in the sanctuary.  (never found that one either).

      Just wondering…


    3. Pastor Ian on Thu, January 06, 2011

      I would definitely be in the don’t allow it camp. Doug raises similar concerns. Opening up our facilities to any group that is outwardly contrary to our core beliefs would compromise our standing for Christ. That’s not so say we don’t love them or try to reach them with the Gospel. I can see how simply renting a facility would not necessarily create the idea of co-laboring in “ministry” or any idea like that, but I prefer to avoid the guilt by association, if that makes sense. If a civic group or other organization approaches our church with the request to use it, we would evaluate each request.

      Todd, you mentioned the sanctuary. I try to use the term auditorium because that room is no holier than any other room.

      I wasn’t raised in church, but I’ve heard the no running and no food issue. As the senior pastor and part-time contractor who has remodeled two facilities to make them churches, it’s the idea of no running creates fewer repairs and no food makes it easier for our volunteers to keep the church clean.

    4. Peter Hamm on Thu, January 06, 2011

      We rent or lend our facility to a number of groups. Cub Scouts, local university (for one event per year), and just about anybody that wants to rent it (for a very reasonable fee that doesn’t make us any money). But to allow a group that is directly at odds with our mission and vision would be crossing the line.

      I think the Benny Hinn fan club would be fine, though… I’m just not going to attend that event is all…

    5. Ted Olsen on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Did you read the CT piece, or just the USA Today summary? I wouldn’t characterize Hood as “condemning.” But he’s raising great questions.

    6. Kim Aliczi on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Those of you who worship in secular spaces because you have no church building - does it bother you that many events occur in those buildings that are not theologically in sync?
      If your church burned down and the local mosque offered to let you use their space to worship on Sunday, would you turn them down because they believe differently?
      I’m obviously in the “it’s just a building, people” camp.  It’s difficult to reach the lost if you have no contact with them until they no longer desire to be lost, if you know what I mean.
      Just some quick thoughts off the top of my head as I read this.

    7. Todd Rhoades on Thu, January 06, 2011


      Yes, I read the article.  I think his feeling comes across in the article.  And I, to a large degree, agree with him.

      I think this is a great question for discussion.  I doubt that many churches are in the camp of being ok with letting Muslims use their facilities.  I could be wrong, but I bet that’s the case.  At least in early 2011.


    8. Todd Rhoades on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Great points, Kim!

      I think very few churches, if burnt down to the ground, would accept an invitation to meet for services at the local mosque.  But they wouldn’t have a problem at a local school, or even a concert venue, or even a movie theatre that just got done showing the latest sex-laden R rated movie the night before.


    9. Brian L. on Thu, January 06, 2011

      We wouldn’t rent to the Muslims, JW’s, Mormons, or any group that was contrary to our stands on things, particularly religions that are in every way, shape, and form, ANTI-Christian.

      About the closest thing we’ve come to here was when a local Southern Baptist Church had a car crash into their building.  We offered to let them meet at our place until repairs were done, but it wasn’t necessary as their worship space was untouched.  Sadly, we were the only church in town that offered…

      We used to have a secular dance class for kids that met a couple times a week, then they moved to a different facility that worked better for them.

      We were asked by our local Girl Scout Council if they could meet and have a troop meeting.  The problem is that the Girl Scouts allow lesbian leadership, and if that was being allowed in this local setting, we would not be able to let them meet here.  My questioning stunned the leader (I tried very hard to be gracious and hesitant in asking a very un-PC question), and we never heard back.  Apparently they felt they needed to go somewhere where such questions weren’t asked.

      For us, running in church isn’t so much about “reverence,’ although we have a few here who are concerned, but mainly because we don’t want kids knocking elderly people down.  As for eating, we don’t mind.  Some people bring water, coffee, etc.  I have a feeling that for the churches that met in houses in the early days, eating and teaching took place at the same time.

    10. Brian L. on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Oh yeah - one other thing:

      The pastors quoted said “this is a way of ‘living out the way of life Jesus calls Christians to live.’”

      If they can show me that from Scripture, I’d be inclined to listen.  However, they seem to forget that Jesus drove out some people who were impeding authentic worship of God at the temple.  I simply can’t imagine that He would allow Muslims to worship there.

      Reminder: Jesus was (and IS) very tolerant of PEOPLE, but not IDEAS that contradict Him.  Showing love to Muslims - as we should - does not mean embracing or encouraging worship of a god that is contrary to Scripture.

    11. Carl Thomas on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Church facilities were paid for with money donated to propagate the Gospel.  To use facilities that were purchased with that money for a purpose that was opposed to that mission is wrong in my opinion.

      This is the main purpose of the EFLA, to make sure the money goes to what folks said it was going to.  Whether it is being wrongly spent on the pastors bmw or muslim worship really does not matter.  It isn’t being spent on what folks thought it was being spent on.

      If the church received donations to purchase a multi-use facility that was a straight business venture I guess that would be a different thing.

      Of course this all predicates on the “Evangelical” stance of the church.

    12. Brett R on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Three things remain, faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is the appearance of tolerance.

    13. Dave Buerstetta on Thu, January 06, 2011

      I’m extremely proud to say that our church has had a Muslim group meeting in it for fellowship and prayer for about two years now.

      This is a group that has been kicked out of previous worship spots and was even denied the right to build their own space on land that they owned. Why? Because they might be noisy and use lights in their parking lot. Oh, and of course, as several County Board members shared, everybody knows Muslims are terrorists.

      Meanwhile, several Christian churches across the street from that same spot were allowed to build huge buildings.

      Friends, we are not in a holy war. Muslims are not our enemies. Their prayers honor God too.

    14. Tony Moore on Thu, January 06, 2011

      If the church used the building daily it wouldn’t be an issue. I don’t want to be part of a church that builds a mausoleum and calls it a sanctuary once a week.

    15. Pastor Ian on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Sorry Dave. Allah is not the God of the Bible and their prayers do not honor Him.

    16. Page 1 of 4 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »

      Post a Comment

    17. (will not be published)

      Remember my personal information

      Notify me of follow-up comments?

    Get MMI in your Inbox Every Monday!