by Loren Lung
I was talking with someone the other day who said there were three empty churches in their community. I ask them how the church can be empty since the church is actually the believers. The church in the New Testament was called the ekklesia (ek-klay-see’-ah) which means “the gathering” or “assembly”. The ekklesia is bound by the cords of fellowship or koinonia. The early church had no buildings because they met in homes, upper rooms, in the temple courts and synagogues. An empty church building is just a building. He laughed and said, “You know what I mean!”
The church building is a tool that facilitates the mission of the church. The building provides a physical space not only for the worship of God (1 Pet. 2:9) and the nurture of the saints (Eph. 4:15–16) but also for the witness of the church, which is called to be a “light” to the world (Matt. 5:14–16). The church also serves the common good of the community in which it exist by providing services and ministry to the public. The church building is also used for weddings, funerals, and other events in the community.
For this reason we should always maintain the facilities to the best of our abilities and make sure it is properly equipped for the needs of the congregation. Care and respect should be a part of the goal of all believers so that this tool will be able to be used for generations to come.
Having said that, the building should not become a mausoleum to the Lord. We serve a risen Savior. Jesus is alive and sitting at the right hand of the Father. His Word and His Spirit are at work in our lives. As his followers we are to carry on his mission in the world. Jesus doesn’t need another tomb!
The truth of the matter is the church building should be in use continually. There should be things going on all week long as well as on Sunday morning. What a blessing for the congregation, community, and individuals to be able to go to find resources, activities, and programs to better their lives in various ways.
Some well-intending people believe that the building is like a club house for the church and shouldn't be used for anything outside of worship services on Sunday morning. Other folks have elevated the church building to a point that it is more important than the congregation that it serves. If the congregation stops doing the Lord’s business then attendance begins to decline and the church tailspins in a downward spiral leading to the demise of the church. Eventually the building stands empty.
The saddest part for me personally is to see a for sale sign in front of a church building. Where some church buildings are put on the market because the congregation outgrew the building, most buildings are put up for sale because the church died out. Some church buildings have been bought and converted to health and fitness clubs, micro-breweries, offices, and community buildings. Others church buildings are torn down to make way for shopping centers, housing developments, or office buildings. What was once sanctified grounds (set apart for the worship and service of our Lord Jesus Christ) is now lost. Some of these buildings have even been used for occult practices. Empty church buildings are often lost opportunities in the kingdom of God.
The presence of the church building in our community is a visible emblem of the grace and hope that comes through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It should be a public outpost of God’s Kingdom in the community. Church buildings, when filled with the loving and merciful people of God, are “aid stations” for downtrodden neighbors seeking refuge from the storms of life.
My prayer is that Beaver Creek Christian Church will always use all its facilities to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that our people will use this tool for worship and service to the Lord for many years to come.