The Church is not a Building

By March 31, 2022 No Comments

A church is not a building. No matter what tradition says, no matter what society says, and certainly no matter what your feelings say, a church simply is not a building.  A church is not a place. It isn’t where you meet, it isn’t where you worship, and it isn’t where you serve. It is neither a physical structure, nor a geographic location. An unfortunate glitch in our language – likely due to a collective intellectual and theological laziness – has conflated what a church is with where a church meets. That glitch makes the church more material, and less spiritual. That glitch robs us from being a church, and instead makes church somewhere we go every Sunday morning.

The word church finds its first mention in the bible from the mouth of Jesus. In Matthew 16:18, he tells us that he will build his church and that the gates of hell will not overwhelm it. Church is a wholly New Testament term that is translated from the Greek word, ekklesia, which means an assembly of people called out from their homes into a public place.  So when Jesus was talking about building his ekklesia,  he wasn’t talking about building a brick and mortar structure, he was talking about forming an assembly of people by calling them out of the world and making them so collectively and spiritually strong, so holy, and so reflective of him that the evil behind the gates of hell would not be able to overpower them.  Later, in Acts 2:41-47, the Lord begins to shape that assembly.  But it isn’t an assembly of people standing around in the street deliberating on some matter of transient, superficial importance.  Instead, it is a community of believers living and sharing life together as they wait for his return. The assembly is an animated, breathing community that grows together 7 days per week.  Greater still is that this assembly itself is the house of God.  In a very real sense,  he resides in the assembly of his people as they live, work, and represent his values in the world (1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Peter 2:5). The truth is that God doesn’t live in houses or temples made by the hands or imaginations of men (Acts 7:48-50, Acts 17:24). Our concept of church as a building or a place marries us to dead bricks and timbers, or to plots of ground instead of to God and the people he has called out of the world. Our emotions then become overwhelmed by places and things instead of God, people, and true life. 

As we transition from Fellowship to LifeSpring, remember that we are not really moving from one building to another. We are remodeling the house so that it can better accommodate the source of living water that supplies it, and thereby make that water more accessible to anyone who visits.


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