In my travels I have seen a lot of churches. I realized that I’m ambivalent to church buildings. Now I’m not ambivalent to what churches DO, but I’m ambivalent to the building.
I’ve heard people say that they LOVE their church building. Now I get loving what the church does – care for us in times of grief and sorrow, lift us up in times of joy, provide a safe place for youth and groups to meet, being a place of worship and thankfulness for God, and of course having a place for meetings. But the building didn’t care for us, lift us up – it’s simply a vehicle for things to happen.
For those that love their building, I need you to know your building is not that unique. With a few exceptions your building is the same style as many, many others. Of course there’s a few accouterments that differ, but your building looks a lot like other buildings. I hope you love the building because of what the people in the building have done or because it’s a place where you find contentment.
I also wonder why there’s so many church buildings. Surely theology and tradition will separate us, but how many church buildings represent pettiness, control, and in-fighting? How many buildings represent inflated egos of pastors or church members? How many buildings represent visions of simply serving those on the inside?
A couple years ago I was in the St. Paul Cathedral and they were doing a multi-million dollar renovation to this amazing structure. The whole time I couldn’t break away from wondering what their budget was for feeding the poor, caring for God’s own outside the walls of this building.
I wonder what God thinks of our church buildings? I’m nowhere close to a biblical scholar, but know references to temples (and the rules therein) aren’t generally flattering in the Bible. I know Jesus spent a lot of time with people out and about. I’m guessing God is more about what the church does than what the building is.
So I’m ambivalent to church buildings. But I’m not ambivalent to bell choirs. Not a fan.
P.S. Maybe I’m ambivalent because I’ve seen passionate Christians in the simplest of buildings/places in Haiti