Monday, February 15, 2010

On Fixed and Wandering Churches

When a church has a building, it has security. It has the ability to run multiple morning services, Christmas Eve services, Sunday School, mid-week services, VBS, youth group, staff meetings, and anything else necessary in the same building without giving it a second thought. Churches who don't have buildings of their own, those who meet in homes or colleges or places that they rent, have no such security. They don't know if they can count on having the same place for Sunday service a year from now, and they often have to scrounge for places to meet for anything extra. Holding a VBS of their own is essentially out of the question. For some of these churches without buildings, their size is simply much too small to warrant one; for others, they are growing and could use one, but the financial situation makes it impossible.

However, a church without the security of a building has to rely somewhat more on God, not knowing where they will be in a year, or what they will do for a location if they are blessed with more growth, and that can create a better spiritual foundation for the church. On the other hand, churches with buildings may have paid more than they could reasonably expect to afford, getting space for more people than they could reasonably expect to have, and if it was pride rather than God telling them to go ahead with the building project, they should not be surprised if the security that they expected never shows up.

If, while the weather is dry, God says to Noah, "Build an ark," and Noah complies, he can trust that the floods will eventually come. Conversely, if Noah decides on his own to build an ark while the weather is dry, expecting that the floods will come, but has no word from God that he should do such a thing, why should he expect the floods to come? If God tells Noah to build an ark of a certain size, and he chooses to build it bigger or smaller, should he expect to survive the flood? Should he expect to be blessed?

If a church does everything that God asks of it, if the leaders pray and listen before taking the steps to gain a building, and the reply is "Yes, build," and they are good stewards of what money they have, the church ought to be able to trust God that the finances will be worked out, regardless of their apparent state. Yet, if, out of pride, they build when they should not, or if, from lack of faith, they do not build when they should, they surely can expect the growth of their church to stagnate. Are we not instructed to be faithful even with little?

The church is the people, and moreover, the relationship of the people with God. The temple would not have been built if the building meant nothing, and yet, the building would be nothing without the people in it to learn and to worship, and the building is nothing without the presence and the blessing of God.


botsfri said...

Agree wholeheartedly to the post. Church leaders need to ensure that they are following God's will, and not prior "growth success" if they're to "get it right". It's sad when certain church leaders have been as caught up with the "Buy now, later" exuberance of the 2002 till 2009 predictable debt-fallout, "bubble" it turns out blind ambition was prioritized over God’s quiet voice when concluding that a decision based on --> “If you build it, He will come…” ala, “Field of Dreams”, results in a church that does very little earthly good,… as mortgage, insurance, and utility bills are now the new priorities in many church member’s minds.

' And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” '
(Jesus) (Luke 14: 27-30)

botsfri said...

If I recall correctly,...Noah's ark, and the Temple, were built debt-free.

Rae Botsford said...

True that. I like the accompanying verse--very apropos!