Trick question: is this a church?
No. It's not. This is a church:
Lots of times, people get confused about this. What is church? It's not the building, it's the people. When God talks about "the church", he is not talking about four walls, but the Christians who meet in them.
Why is this an important distinction? You know, I'm not a Bible scholar. Not even close. But I'm going to take a stab at this. I think it has something to do with focusing on the spiritual rather than the worldly. People get distracted when they care more about the building than what God's doing in peoples' lives.
Having a place to meet is great, but often people mistake the building itself to be holy. That's not true. It's just a building. Four walls with tons of chairs, a couple of bathrooms and sound equipment. It doesn't matter how fancy or expensive or state-of-the-art your building is. The important thing is the church--the people! The love and friendship and spiritual growth and wonderful things God is doing.
This distinction between the Church and the Building has always been very clear to me and most of the kids at my church. Why? Because we've moved a lot. Until very recently, my church has never owned real estate, and our pastor didn't want us to. We've met in ten different locations over the last ten years, but our church has always been the same, no matter where we were meeting.
Places We've Met
- My house
- The school cafeteria
- A nursing home
- The school gym
- Another church building (the church met on Saturdays, so they let us use it on Sundays)
- The new building of that church ^
- Matt and Katie's house
- A humongous garage
- The Long House
- The new building, "Connection Point"
Today, my church packed up all its chairs, tables, shelves, music stands, paper towels, trashcans and couches and moved out of the Long House and into Connection Point. Who moved all the stuff? The Church. Not the building, but the amazing people in it. Today seemed like a good day to remind everyone what's what. Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples, not build million dollar buildings with elevators and fancy carpet.
Just keep that in mind. As always, Jesus doesn't care about putting on a show or having a building, he cares about our hearts, he cares about the people, he cares about the Church.