Can a church buy and sell property?


I've been thinking a lot on authority and what ways the church is authorized to receive money into treasury. Freewill offerings are the only means, correct? The church does not have the authority to open a business to support its funds, correct?

If those are true, a question struck me: Does the church have the authority to own or purchase property? If so, does the church have the right to sell it and put that money back in the treasury? If so, how's that any different than a business?

I've not any preconceived notions on this, I'm honestly wondering and asking several preachers I know so I can have as much information as possible to reach a conclusion. Thank you for your time and your work!


It is the way you worded your question that causes difficulty. A church gets the funds it needs to carry out its work through freewill offerings. "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (II Corinthians 9:6-7). "On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come" (I Corinthians 16:2). A church is not involved in businesses, so it would not raise money by being a real estate broker.

But this does not mean that in carrying out its duties, a church might not find itself owning something. For instance, a church is to assemble and one option for assembling is to purchase land and a building in which to assemble. It is not the only option available, often it becomes the cheapest way of providing a place to assemble in many communities. The authority is in the command to assemble. The purchase of the location because an expedient way to carry out that command. See: What is an expedient?

If a church decides to move locations, of course the old facility will be sold. It is no longer need to fulfill a command. Since the Lord's money was used to purchase the location in the first place, any proceeds from the sale will placed back into the treasury to be used in carrying out the church's duties. In reality, any increase just represents the change in the value of money over the time the location was being used. It is not a business. The church didn't invest the money for the purpose of making a profit -- the investment came as need to carry out a command. The sale is done, not because of the money but because circumstances had changed and the funds need to be invested in a different way.