Posted by: pastordarren | June 11, 2010

Further Reflections on the Church Building

“If we build it they will come.”  (Although not originally church related . . .)

“When we open our doors, people will come and feel welcome.”

“The church building is the center of the community and therefore people will come all the time.”

These and others statements and concepts are very prevalent within the church today.  Although people who keep track of trends within our society and the church today, are basically saying the opposite.  They are saying the church is still living in the 1950s.  This can be seen in our practices, worship, facilities, governance, traditions, etc.  I don’t believe that we are or still can do things as they were done in the 50s.  As we look at the issue of the church building and its complete facilities, Howard Snyder’s quote becomes very pointed.  You can read the whole quote at the previous post, but the part that I would like to reflect on is this, “The gospel says, “go” but our buildings say, “stay.”  The gospel says, “seek the lost,” but churches say, “let the lost seek the church.”

“The gospel says, “go” but our buildings say, “stay.”  Inorder to be good stewards of what we have, we need to take care of the buildings and facilities not just so they look good but to do up keep and repair.  Very often we spend a great deal of our finances and time taking care of our buildings, replacing things when they break and / or upgrading them if we choose.  What this does effectively is two things, it turns our focus inward and takes up our time and other resources.  We have to stay because the building needs attention instead of going to be with the people we are called to be with.  We are also comfortable within the walls we have built and would rather stay here instead of going to where we maybe uncomfortable.

The gospel says, “seek the lost,” but churches say, “let the lost seek the church.”  This part of Snyder’s quote directly addresses the statements at the beginning and is a result of the first part of this quote.  Because we are putting so much energy and focus on our building, we are expecting others to come instead of going to them.  Our perception is that the church is still a gathering place for the community where spiritual needs are met.  That is changing and doing so rapidly.  Because of a variety of reasons (too many for now) many people outside the church are not going to come into the church.  We have to go to them and meet them where they are currently at in their lives.

With that said, I do believe that the church building and facilities are important and serve a place with the life of the church and community.  The building gives us a central place to gather for worship, education, fellowship and other activities.  We need to though, have the proper perspective and vision for what the church facility can do in ministry.  I believe that in reality, when you get down to the core of the matter, the building and other facilities are no more than tools.  There are sacred and holy events that happen within the walls but when we start treating various rooms or objects as holy and sacred, then we start worshiping them instead of God.  We also need to take care of what we have which also means using it in ways that reach out instead of just serving our needs. 

For sure the church building is changing in many ways.  How do you see the future of the church building and its use in the life of the church and the world?

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