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    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...





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    1. Peter Hamm on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Yeah, the problem is that Islam by it’s very nature is extremely antagonistic towards Christianity.

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

      Dave, no one here is saying all Muslims are our enemies.  I have a number of Muslim friends in college.  We got along very well despite our religious differences.

      However - their prayers do NOT honor God, if the Bible is true.  The god of Islam is not the God of the Bible, even with the tie to Abraham.  God cannot contradict Himself.  The Word He gave to Israel (descended from Isaac) does not match what Islam claims to be the word of God given to Mohammed (descended from Ishmael).  They cannot both be true, or God is a liar or at the very least, wishy-washy on what He demands of His followers regarding faith and practice.

    3. sgillesp on Thu, January 06, 2011

      On this issue I’ve been using the “embassy” principle - if we are called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God (2 Cor 5), then our building ought to function something like an embassy.  So, all kinds of community activities could be welcomed here, but we’d be unlikely to hold, say, a citizenship ceremony for another kingdom in the embassy.  Our job is to live out the values of our king - thus it makes sense to be very welcoming - but I wouldn’t allow the worship of a different king here. 
      Very likely, those churches don’t believe Muslims are worshiping a different king - and that is probably the point of difference.

    4. Dave Buerstetta on Thu, January 06, 2011

      sgillesp: I’d say that sounds about right.

      Meanwhile, I find this interesting:
      As we debate and discuss and consider who is welcome in our buildings and who is not… Muslims in Egypt are answering the call to show solidarity with Coptic Christians there who are about to celebrate Christmas Eve Mass. They are doing so by attending Mass and acting as human shields against possible attacks.

      Read the whole thing here:

      Two thoughts before us:
      1. “You are not welcome here!”
      2. “I will use my body to protect you from harm, even though it may cost me my life!”

      Which is more Christ-like?

    5. Q. on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Hey Dave, I don’t think the question is about protecting Muslims from bodily harm.  I don’t think it’s even a question of whether Christians would step up to protect Muslims (I’ve been blessed to see much of it in action myself)...  I could be wrong but I don’t think the article meant that if this church didn’t invite them to worship Allah inside of a Church building that the only other option was to put them at physical risk.  I may have misunderstood so I apologize if that was what the article was trying to suggest.

    6. Mike Martin on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Pastor Todd, I live in Memphis and asked Pastor Stone to lunch and we did meet.  He never got off the “love” attribute of God.  I attempted to discuss ALL God’s attributes and characteristics and how could you describe God to someone without describing him in total?  I also brought up the stumbling aspect and potential for harming young christians in his own congregation.  I asked if he shared the gospel with the muslum people as they came in, just love them he said.  It is just a building, but there are dangers, and he is accountable.  Obviously “sin” is not talked about much at Pastor Stone’s church.

    7. Mike Martin on Thu, January 06, 2011

      Brian L, right on.  I also asked Pastor Stone about allowing the local “Athiest” group in or the “Satan worshipers of Cordova” to worship, he said he would not allow that.  Not sure why or the justification?

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

      Mike, my guess would be that the justification is that we all worship the God of Abraham, just in different ways.

      It’s not true, but that’s what my guess would be.  So he could easily justify not allowing Satanists or atheists to meet there.

    9. Kim Aliczi on Fri, January 07, 2011

      Why is it that when the discussion comes up about allowing Muslims to worship in our sanctuaries, it’s only a matter of time before someone says “what about atheists or satan worshipers?”  It’s rather like how the topic of child molestation inevitably comes up in any discussion about homosexuality.
      Personally, I’d love to have a bunch of atheists use our space!  How cool would that be?  But it just would never happen, and you all know it.  C’mon - do you REALLY think all those uber-offended atheists will want to even BE in a room with a cross?
      As for Satanists…really, people?  Like there is any logic in that at all, as if a Satanic cult would (itself) think meeting in a church would be a good idea?
      Sorry - the atheist/satanic cult argument is just a lot of smoke.
      Not trying to be argumentative, here - just trying to be a small voice of reason so we can concentrate on the things that REALLY matter.

      Dave - great story about Muslims willing to put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect members of a different faith.  I honestly did not see that coming.

      You can’t share Christ without dialog.  And you can’t have dialog in separation.  Something’s got to give, and it’s pretty gutsy of a Christian church to choose to ignore the backlash hype and take a step toward bridging that communication gap by offering their worship space.

    10. Peter Hamm on Fri, January 07, 2011


      If I open up my church building to allow a group to worship there who do not believe Jesus is the unique Son of God, and in fact believe that those of us who believe that are heretics am I really opening up dialogue?

      No, I would argue that I am then closing it. I am saying that I approve of your understanding of God, I am basically espousing relativism, and I am saying that there is no need of further discussion.

    11. Kim Aliczi on Fri, January 07, 2011


      Fair enough.  But I would submit to you this.  We are not the be all and end all of any dialog, but merely a step on someone’s journey.  Step one may be to let Muslim’s know that Christians really are the loving, caring people they claim to be.  Once allowed to worship in a Christian sanctuary, a young Muslim might remember that experience later on and actually be open-minded enough to discuss Christ, maybe even years later, with a Christian friend from work.

      Church buildings don’t build relationships and start or close dialog - people do.  So why can’t we use our buildings as a stepping stone in that process, without thinking it all depends on us to start and finish the job?


    12. Pastor/Evangelist Mark A Jones on Fri, January 07, 2011

      I am so excited to locate your site!  What a blessing!
      Secondly, why in the world would a Christian church permit Muslims or Satanists to ‘rent’ their facilities?  I feel a true Christian church would pray about who would be permitted to use their facilities.  Money will be proposed to smaller congregations who need funds.  That will make it a matter of finances instead of ‘will we rent out our facilities’?  God is our provider not ‘people’.

    13. jerry krewson on Fri, January 07, 2011

      I know someone will correct me if I am wrong, but I can only remember one time when a man of God of the Bible offered to share any space with a non-believer. Mount Carmel was the place, and Elijah was the man. It didn’t turn out to well for the one religious group.

      I was wonder if there is any place in the New Testament where Jesus or the Apostles invited a compteting religious group to share in the use of the place they met?

      John’s words to the Church in Pergamum seems to indicate that at least when they met together, it was a bad idea to do so with the Nicolaitans. I would think that it would be assumedthen, that they really shouldn’t be lending their worship site to those miserable Nicolaitans. But I could be wrong.

      Seems to me that the Lord wanted action to take place against a so-called prophetess named Jezebel. Again, I could be wrong, but seems to me that the Lord really doesn’t want His people to be allowing a so-called prophetess to be associating with the Church in Thyatira. I would assume that He wouldn’t want them to loan out the worship place to her, this false religous prophet.

      But then again, maybe I am reading to much into all that. The Lord does seem to me to be somewhat intolerant of FALSE religions—but maybe He has changed His mind and the FALSE religion of Islam is now acceptable to Him?

      Oh, one other thing, is there any historic evidence where a Roman, or for that matter, any other false religious stucture burning down or was destroyed in an earthquack, in the 1st couple centuries of the Church, where the false bunch was invited to share the worship facilities with the followers of Christ?

    14. Brian L. on Fri, January 07, 2011


      Could you possibly imagine a Muslim Iman allowing Christian worship in a mosque?  They might allow Christians to attend a service, but not to actually hold a Christian worship service.

      While there may be exceptions (probably the Imam of the Muslim congregation in the news story), the VAST majority would never allow it, because Christianity is considered a blasphemous religion to them.  In fact, I would suggest that the number is so small as to be practically non-existent in terms of percentage who would allow it.

      Also, there are many other ways to open dialogs with Muslims without compromising the space dedicated to worship of the Christian God.

      Befriending Muslims and showing Christ’s love does not mean embracing Islamic worship for the sake of building a bridge.

      Your scenario of a Muslim possibly remembering the kindness and being open to Christianity as a result is also incredibly remote.  It is a much more likely possibility that the person would remember that the Christian leadership of that church does not have the same level of conviction regarding his Christianity as most Muslims do regarding Islam.  This would be seen not as kindness, but as weakness.

    15. Kim Aliczi on Fri, January 07, 2011


      This is what I’m understanding from your last comment - we shouldn’t allow Muslims to use our sanctuary while their building is under construction because:
      1) the majority of other churches wouldn’t, so we shouldn’t either.
      2) They wouldn’t let us use their mosque if the tables were turned.
      3) it would compromise our worship space (how? would they leave behind bad juju or something?)
      4) we’d be embracing Islamic worship (how is it embracing Islamic worship just by being neighborly?)
      5) we’re afraid of a)what others might think and b)appearing weak.

      I’ve also heard other reasons regarding stuff like money, but it appears to me, after I’ve read all the responses, that #5 is the REAL concern here.  How it might make us look.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but Jesus didn’t seem to care much what others thought.

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