They say I’m building a church.
I know what those words mean, even if I don’t agree. What they mean to say is that we are building abuilding, a facility.
A “church” is something far more than a place and something radically more beautiful than a building. Church is us, flesh and blood, a group of Christians committed to living life together in the presence of God. It’s easy to build a building. What is infinitely more essential is building up the body of Christ.
Building the church, as Anabaptism has always insisted, is about spiritual growth, daily discipleship lived publicly, & authentic community. Building the church is NOT about making good church members. It’s about having Jesus as the center of our faith, community as the center of our lives, and reconciliation as the center of our work.
We don’t need a building or a budget to do any of those things. Religion says we do, but not Christianity.
I can lead you in singing but I can’t make you worship or move you from your head to your heart.
I can inform you about faith but I can’t form you, that’s your choice not mine.
I can build you a labyrinth but I can’t make you use it, let alone walk prayerfully into God’s presence.
I can appoint you to a leadership position but I can’t make you lead.
I can pass the microphone each Sunday but I can’t make you get out of passive mode and give us an encouraging word.
I can preach at you (I figure I’ve preached about 100 hours in my time here) about daily living but I can’t make you love your neighbor.
You get the idea. I think we’d benefit from seeing our building project as an apt metaphor for the true work of building the church. Building a new facility is not our agenda and it’s not our top priority. At its best it is a means to an end. Important work all the same.
Let’s not lose sight of that end, or the reasons we’re on that journey.