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Since we’re talking about church buildings

Posted by on Oct 3, 2010 in blog links, discipleship, edification | 1 comment

Since we’re talking about church buildings

Since my previous post was about a church deciding to sell their building so they could help more people (see “Church Sells Building to Help More People“), I thought I would also copy this gem from Dave Black (Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 7:41 a.m.):

This morning I’ll be gathering with the Body of Christ in a building dedicated to such gatherings.

Some people call it a sanctuary — a very misleading term, as the room in which we meet is no more sacred in God’s eyes than the restroom across the hall. Many followers of Jesus will prefer to meet in a home this morning instead. They seem to understand, perhaps in a deeper way than many “church-goers,” that in the kingdom, buildings aren’t sacred. When Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman, He declared that even places we deem most sacred don’t deserve our worship. Jesus is Lord, and He can be worshipped anywhere, anytime. His “church” is nothing more than an assembly of people who have welcomed God’s kingdom into their lives and relationships. Followers of Jesus are therefore always suspicious of man-made structures that seek to replace kingdom values. The church is not a building. The church is not an institution. The church is not a program. These are only and always human creations. They never supersede kingdom authority. Or biblical authority for that matter. None of them is sacred though they often become “sacred cows.”

But there is more. Each of these things I’ve just mentioned — buildings and institutions and programs — each of them can be, indeed ought to be, dedicated as a tool for celebrating the Good News of the kingdom. When this occurs — and I’m afraid it occurs all too infrequently — the focus is no longer on physical or institutional or programmatic objectives. We now view our meeting places as nothing more than that — mere skins of the kingdom’s ferment. They are no longer the focus. We even stop idolizing them.

So, this morning I will meet with the brethren in a structure that some sacralize and that others view merely as a wineskin. The issue is one of attitude and perspective. A “religious” building can witness to our pride or to the wine. The same is true of a home fellowship. Either structure can begin to calcify. Indeed, given enough time, they probably will calcify. Then we will have to come back to the place where we started: recognizing that no place is sacred to God except in the sense that all places are sacred to God.

What a great post! What is a building (any building, even a home)? Simply a place where the church can meet. There are no holy buildings. As long as the place is not idolized (or sacralized, to use Dave’s term) and as long as the building and maintenance is not controlling how the church uses the money that God gives them, and as long as we are able to function as the church when we meet together, then who cares where the church meets?

The question is… when we meet together… whenever… and wherever… are we helping one another to live a mature life in Jesus Christ?

One Comment

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  1. 10-3-2010

    I don’t know. I think our bagel shop is pretty sacred. 🙂

    I agree. It doesn’t matter where we meet, although my son, who has a graduate degree in architecture, would argue that buildings can evoke a sense of the sacred. While traveling in Europe a few years ago, his experiences visiting some of the cathedrals led him to a more liturgical expression of faith. He meets with us in the bagel shop from time to time, but the experience of being in a building that is more traditional and liturgical resonates with him.