Reflecting on Church #25: They Ended Up With a Building After All
With our journey of visiting fifty-two churches over, I can reflect more on the complete experience. Today, I’ll add to my thoughts about Church #25.
I praised this congregation for not having a church building. Instead they rented space on Sunday for their services. That meant the money they’d normally spend on a mortgage and building maintenance could instead be used for community outreach and service.
Shortly after our visit, this church announced a merger of sorts with another nearby congregation from the same denomination. The other church, small and struggling, did have a church building, but their dwindling membership made it impossible for them to continue.
As the melding of their two congregations progressed, both churches shut down for several months, before re-emerging as a new entity in the second church’s building. During this in between time, some members grew weary of the delay and scattered to find other churches, while others gave up and stopped going to church altogether.
I wish they hadn’t delayed. I lament the loss of people, and I lament they now have a large building to maintain. I wonder if their focus on the surrounding community will suffer as a result.
The early church met in people’s homes and public places. Why can’t we do the same today? Think of all the money we’d save and hassles we could avoid if we removed the shackles of owning and maintaining a church facility.
Not only are our church structures exorbitantly expensive, they’re also underutilized most of the time. At best, one of today’s churches enjoys full usage for only two hours of each week. That’s 1.2 percent of the time. This means that for 98.8 percent of each week the building is underutilized.
Maintaining a church building is costly and does little to advance the kingdom of God. We don’t need to go to a building to go to church so we can connect with God. We take church with us wherever we go—or at least we should.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.