the weblog of Alan Knox

When a church building is just one place among many

Posted by on May 12, 2011 in discipleship, gathering, service | 8 comments

When a church building is just one place among many

I’ve already suggested that it would be more healthy for churches if Sunday became just one day among other days and leaders became just one person among the church.

There’s another focus for many modern churches that can be dangerous: the focus on a particular place or building. Often, this is a church building that is used not only for meetings for almost all other service performed by the church. In fact, the church often finds its identity in the building itself. (Oh, no, they would not say that. But listen to what people say when church buildings are destroyed.)

In Scripture, churches met in many different locations. Then, they served others wherever they met them: in homes, in the market place, and yes, in the temple.

When the church focuses too much on meeting and serving in one particular building, we begin to lose the wonder and glory of the fact that God is with us always and everywhere.Often, you will see this combined with people asking God to “come to” this place or “meet with them” in this place. This is nonsense for the follower of Christ!

There is no place that we can go where we will not be in the presence of God. We are the temple of God, and God dwells and remains with each of his children. And, thus, any place becomes a place for serving others in order to give glory to God.

Get out of the building. Go to people. And serve God where the people are.


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  1. 5-12-2011

    Alan, another great post, as always. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. 5-12-2011


    Succinct and spot on!

  3. 5-12-2011

    I agree that there is a problem with a misplaced focus on the importance of a building (hence the many churches and ministries that go into massive debt over acquiring or constructing them…or being foreclosed on)…But I think it’s ALSO important to point out that the emphasis on a particular place *really* comes about simply as a result of the necessary emphasis on gathering. While every believer does in fact carry something of the spirit of God with them, the scripture you quote is referencing the *whole* body as the Temple of God. It’s when the people come together as a united whole that you see the Presence of God really tangible manifest….or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. “Know you, yourselves, not that you [plural] are the temple of God?” So, yes, it’s not about a building. The real issue I think is getting believers to 1) gather, 2) unify, 3) really care about God more than themselves enough to see God respond by doing some real God things in our lives and so also in those around us. I think it’s really easy to react to all of the wrong-headed things going on around us in the ministry (and there are plenty!). There’s nothing wrong with pointing it out (rather such errors need to be identified). But how much greater the need for leaders who can identify the solutions, and lead us there. — frankly, I think *real* leaders will always be people of note – and why shouldn’t they be? We need real examples to follow.

  4. 5-12-2011

    Keith and Aussie John,

    Thanks. I appreciate the kind words.


    In 1 Corinthians, Paul indicates that both the individual believer and the group is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The solution, in my view, is to stop meeting together in only one place so that we can show that God is with us wherever we meet together.


  5. 5-13-2011

    Alan, our community has stopped meeting in one place on Sundays for the time being, although not by choice. The bagel shop where we were meeting has closed, so we are now meeting in homes. We’re still getting together throughout the week, although it’s tough right now with all of the end of the school year stuff those who are parents have to deal with. I don’t know if we’ll continue to meet in homes or if we’ll try to find a single location. Either way, the location is not important.

  6. 5-13-2011


    I’m not opposed to churches meeting regularly in the same place. However, I think it’s dangerous when they always meet in the same place and when all other serving is carried out in the same place.


  7. 5-14-2011

    Ha!! That is why when they say ‘building a chuch’, they mean ‘building/constructing/making a bigger building’, not ministering to people. All they care is to build a bigger church building as if the big church means something special. I understand the danger of focusing the building:
    Preacher can pressure people to give more money for ‘God’s house'; people tend to think that it the only place you can worship God and go home after every Sunday forgetting about reading the Word of God, filled with Holy Spirit and walking in the Spirit the rest of the week.
    Focusing on the chuch ‘building’ may be one of the cause of producing warefare Christians, maybe that is too much to say.

  8. 5-14-2011


    I think that most who want to build bigger buildings and have bigger programs are doing so with good motives. However, I don’t think their actions actually help the kingdom of God the way they think. I’m glad that God uses all of his children, even when we do things that might not be best for the kingdom.