If you were to ask someone to show you a church in modern times, they would take you online or drive you to see a building. If you were to ask the same question of the early Christians, they would have pointed at each other. They were the Church.
This is not a call to desecrate, insult, or condemn those who have glorious church buildings where a congregation meets on Sundays, where weddings are often held throughout the week, and where people gather to discuss the needs of the community. It’s no secret that we intend to build our ministry without a physical building for the sake of expanded outreach and breaking down the bounds of distance by using the internet, but this isn’t about us, either. This is in response to a story on Religion News titled, “Why Christians should ditch monuments in favor of messages“.
According to Tom Ehrich:
A congregation that nurtures strong personal relationships, a compelling sense of mission and a deep desire to sing, pray and learn can meet anywhere.
A congregation that exists to keep a building open, on the other hand, is doomed. Budget talk will dominate community life. The slow decay of beloved space will strain loyalty. Prospective members will flee from capital campaigns.
The buildings were always intended to be symbolic. They were intended to provide a safe haven for worship and to act as a common ground where blood would not be shed, even between enemies. Throughout the world, they act as beacons of hope and a sign of Yeshua’s presence within a community. Unfortunately, they’ve also become a drain through which finances that could go to charitable works and outreach fall to the needs of the physical world.
The majority of Christians need a place to worship. The true Church has always wanted to congregate together, to pray together, and to hear the Word of God as a group rather than separated. However, modern society has put so much emphasis towards the aesthetics that the message often suffers as a result.
This is not intended to insult anyone nor is it intended to draw criticism or debate about the concept of virtual churches. We know that ours will not be a popular ministry and we understand that there are distinct disadvantages to being virtual. That’s a different discussion. Instead, let’s focus on the idea that if the physical building that holds the congregation becomes the central need for money and work, at what point can the good works be delivered to the rest of the community or the world?
Every dollar spent on repairing a parking lot at the church could feed hungry people. Every minute of work spent painting a room within a church could be spent sharing the Gospel with someone who desperately needs to hear it. Every meeting held to discuss the needs of the building could be used to plan outreach to the community.
We are not here to condemn those who put effort into making their church beautiful. We just wish that more effort was used to glorify God, not a physical building of this world.
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