What Does Your Church Building Say About God?

Our church just finished redesigning the building.  We made space for more creative worship, got movable sanctuary seating to maximize small group teaching and generally spruced the building up with new carpet and paint.  People are excited and momentum, even from what many might say is a small building project, has been awesome.

The building is important.  People go to buildings for everything – to the YMCA to work out, to the doctor when they’re sick, to the arena for a concert and to the church for discipleship and faith growth.  As Sam Rainer says in 10 Unexpected Trends for Churches by 2020, “The building is an expensive, yet key piece to the discipleship process. Not that discipleship can’t happen elsewhere, but more churches are becoming aware that their building needs to be an integral part of the process”.

I recently ran across this verse in Psalm 48:10 (NLT):  12 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem.Walk around and count the many towers. 13 Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations. 14 For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and He will guide us until we die.

Look around the structure of the city of God.  Observe what you see.  This is what God is like.  It made me wonder if we could say that about our church buildings.  I know this may not be exactly accurate of what this scripture was saying, but it spoke to something I’ve experienced recently.

As we have redesigned our church building here in beautiful Troy,IL– kids and adults have been saying great things.  Children and youth love the new look.  They love the new structure, the new entrance, the new stage, the new technology and the new carpet and colors. How we are experiencing that space really does help define the process and the energy in faith development.

I think this is why people always enjoy the beauty of a sanctuary – at any church – any size.  It’s a tour around the facility of God.  We take note of the walls, the details, the windows, or the decorations and we say – this is what God is like.  He is our God forever and ever and He will guide us until we die.

A building doesn’t have to be big and new for this to happen; it just needs to be functional for the purpose of declaring God’s power and might. The building needs to support the invitation to experience the transforming power of Jesus.  I’ve been in plenty of old churches and maybe in those cases the history helps declare God’s power and what God is like.  The church has been there for 155 years and it’s still there – holding a candle of light to the community – serving and loving the neighborhood around them.  In other churches, the spacious new area is breathtaking.  In another example it may be how creative the congregation is in welcoming the community. (I was at a church plant in Michigan that used small chalk boards for all their directional signs – really a cheap, creative and nice alternative to expensive signs).

Maybe you don’t own a building – but you use some sort of facility.  Do what you can, in the confines of your ability, to allow it to support the process of making disciples.

Each church is equipped with what it needs to be extraordinary in the kingdom of God! Use your largest and biggest expense – the building – to your advantage.  It’s a witness to the faithfulness of God.

Here are some practical thoughts for churches:

–          Imagine someone who has never been to church before walking through the doors and saying, “So, this is what God is like…”  What change does that prompt you to make?

–          Get a team to spruce up the outside – plant flowers, care for it, make it appealing.  Schedule a cleaning day.

–          Paint where it is needed to make it nice (builds a team, builds momentum, and it’s cheap).

–          If you have been talking about taking out a wall here or there for the purpose of a larger space for children or youth ministry, then get the key people involved to make it happen.

–          Websites and social media sites are a modern day first impression of your church.  What does yours say?  Any dollar invested in media will provide great returns.

–          Make your facility and space available for people – even a small church can offer to have community groups use the facility for other functions.  Let your building be a witness to the community and don’t be stingy.

–          Do you have welcome and directional signs?  Can people find the entrance or the main rooms?

–          Be flexible with your facilities.  Be good stewards, but don’t become afraid of the building getting messed up.   Remember, it’s a tool.  A place for the church to meet.  And that means wear and tear.

–          Pray for an increase in ownership from the people in your congregation – pray for a sense of the building being a tool for discipleship and growth.

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