It is taught from the earliest days of Sunday school that the church is people not a dwelling. How often though do we hear Christians using the word church in terms of bricks and mortar – the church is in need of repair, we are meeting at the church, that church is Art Deco in style. For this reason I always insert the word “building” …….. the church building is need of repair, etc. Others make a distinction by calling the building a chapel rather than a church.
This is not being pedantic; words have meanings and meanings are important. Should every place of Christian worship be destroyed before the next Lord’s Day, God’s church will still exist and local congregations will continue to meet to worship Him. Having said this, buildings can play a vital role in the purposes of God.
A. Church buildings provide a witness. They testify to those in the area – Christians meet here; the Bible is in this place; different people worship God together; the sound of praises rings out. A church building is the public face of the Christian faith in a local community; it establishes an identifiable presence. And so it is beneficial for a church to put down roots by way of a concrete foundation as well as a biblical foundation
B. Church buildings provide opportunity. From its building a church can undertake all kinds of activities and endeavours – Sunday services, youth group, men’s and women’s ministry, special events, etc. A permanent location better enables a congregation to engage in the work of the Lord and serve Him as He opens doors.
C. Church buildings provide flexibility. The church is not encumbered by the restrictions which so often come with school halls and community centres involving other tenants. Meetings can be held as frequently as the people want, for how long they want, and when they want. This in turn also helps to bring a greater sense of stability and self-determination.
Sadly due to dwindling numbers many places built for Christian worship are being sold and end up in secular usage. The argument is made that the money serves other purposes. That may very well be the case, but it paints a bleak picture and once these buildings are gone, they are gone. We need to earnestly pray that God would revive His work where it has fallen on hard times. Furthermore, we need to earnestly pray that God would make it possible for us to gain a building of our own and give us wisdom and perseverance as we look for one.