church: people not a building (but...)

Most Christians would agree the church is not a building. It’s common understanding that the church - “the called out ones” (ekklesia) - is the people not a building.

Yet you look around the world, from medieval cathedrals to neighborhood steeples, and one could wonder how seriously Christians themselves hold to this key principle of people before buildings. I mean, really, a lot of money has been spent on church buildings!

Hyde Creek Community Church...building
It’s no surprise, then, that in various points of church history people have questioned the role of the building for the church. From monks to Anabaptists to hippies to emerging/missional folks, groups of faithful Christians have demonstrated boldly and creatively how faithfulness to Jesus hinges on a way of life, not a place to meet.

I find these examples both inspiring and, well, challenging.

You see, this fall our church purchased a building (you can read some of the story here as recorded by my friends at the MB Herald).

I’m aware of how easily a building can take over the identity and focus of a church. “I go to church”, while an innocent phrase uttered often, can begin to reflect a reliance on the structures of the church not the people nor the God we profess to follow.

And yet we bought a building. Why?

In many ways our lead pastor’s words, cited at the end of the article above, summarize well our perspective on our building: “We’re home now.”

We're making this transition in the life of our church by attempting to put the building in a proper perspective. For our family of faith, it’s our home - a place to meet and to host, to worship and to serve.

Are there still dangers? Absolutely. Will we be at times distracted (mortgage anybody!?!). No doubt. But being aware of these dangers, we’re asking some important questions to keep our building in perspective:
  • How does what we do with this building say to our neighbors?
  • How can we be good neighbors?
  • How can we be good landlords?
  • How can our space be a place of hospitality and hope?
And in all these discussions, we do need the reminder that the church is about the people united in Jesus wherever we may be. Right now we just happen to gather in our own building. And for this we are thankful. 

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).


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