We had a great discussion in Sunday School. As we discussed David's desire to build a temple in II Samuel, the conversation went in an unexpected direction. We started talking about the value of church buildings. Now, you must understand all of these people are active members and many are at the church multiple times a week.
But what is the value of pouring resources into a facility when there is so much need in the world and so little money? True, we need a place to gather and worship. And we need a central home base for planning and housing equipment. But is that all? This question is especially important to us, because we are in process of raising big bucks to build. We have the wonderful problem of being out of space because we are growing.
We all know the church is the people, but it is also a place where the people can practice being the family of God. And we gather because of God, not the church. We all realize that, but living in community is different when you have to physically live together in shared space. It's the difference between sharing a room with your sister and having your own. When you share a room with your sister and get mad, you still have to share despite your feelings. When you don't share a room and you get mad, you can slam the door in her face as you retreat into your privacy.
When you share space you have to deal with things like children running in the halls (it was usually mine), juggling scheduling conflicts, taking turns cleaning up the kitchen or the yard, or even deciding if you're going to use the American flag in the sanctuary. When you get mad at people who you believe are disrespectful, uncaring, lazy, or unpatriotic, you still have to sit and worship together. You still have to share the same altar when you receive Communion.
While having a great big facility can be a blessing, it can also be a hindrance to ministry, especially in terms of using precious resources. But whichever, sharing space is one way we as a family of God can learn to practice our faith by living together. It can help stop us from acting like spoiled children, thinking our way is the only way. And then throwing a tantrum (or withholding our pledge) when we don't get it.
Understanding church this way might even help us detoxify some of our congregations.