"The Church isn't the Building"

As a child of a missionary and pastor, I've been in many different churches-- some tiny one-room ones, with the belfry rope hanging between the back two pews; some huge ones, with the platform big enough to fit the one-room church on it.

I've been in meetings where the preacher's face turned red as pounded the pulpit in the passion of his sermon, and others where you had to lean forward to catch every word. I've been in some where all the Scripture is projected on a screen, and others where the pastor had you turning in your Bible every five minutes comparing passages. I've been in some where everyone is clapping along with a band, and others where there wasn't even a piano, only voices blending in harmony. I've been in some where there are so many attenders they need 2 or 3 morning services and extra buildings just for Sunday School classes and nursery facilities. Then there are others that are so small they have Sunday School altogether, from the infants to the grannys. Some have special built-in baptism tanks; others meet on the shore of a lake.

I prefer the quieter, smaller churches. My favorite years of worship was when our family attended Ford Chapel. This little one-room structure was built in the 1800's for the family and employees of a big estate. The owner left the property to the town with the stipulation that it was not to be sold, but to be used by any group of people that need a place to worship. It sat nestled in some large white pines and soft-needled larch trees, with an outhouse beside it. It seated around 50 people, with a "modern" furnace and old piano on either side of the pulpit.

It wasn't the building that I loved. (although it had its rustic charm) It was the simplicity of our services. We were there because we wanted to worship the Lord together. There were no sign-up lists, no bulletins, no board meetings, no committees, no choir practices... We were a family. We all helped clean; the men took turns teaching the Sunday School; the women brought in snacks for fellowship times; the children learned to listen or occupy themselves quietly. As we grew, things became more developed; but I wished they could have stayed small and simple.

It's not the size of the building or the way they conduct their services that make the church. It's the people. Are the people friendly? Are they surrendered to the Lord? Do they show it by their love for each other? Are they faithful and committed? Are they studying God's Word and teaching it to their children? Are the young people involved in the church? Do they have prayer meetings where they share their needs and praises? Does the pastor teach the "meat" of the Scriptures?

So, tell me...

What do you think the strengths of a local church are? What do you like most about your church?


ServinGsus said...

We have recently found a new church home after four years of not feeling like we really "fit", but feeling guilty because we felt like we should fit anywhere with God's people, if that makes sense? Anyhow, one thing I am so thankful for in our new church is a pastor who has a heart not just for his "church", but for his CHURCH (as individual people). Each person in it is special to him and he takes the time to respond with sincerity and depth when you have a question. The people in the church are not your typical 'church people' and are in fact a very eclectic group, but they love God so much that it's tangible even in the parking lot. I am so thankful God has brought us somewhere we call "home" and mean it!

The strengths of the local church, when it operates properly, are the same as those of the Early Church. They meet needs, love on people, and ultimately provide the link between the unsaved and the Savior.

Yvonne said...

Dear ServingGsus,

Amen! I am glad that you found a church where God's love is felt among its members. Your church should feel like "home."

Thank you for commenting.


Love Abounds At Home said...

I think the strengths of the local church start within the four walls at home. To be honest, it's been years since I heard a sermon on marriage and/or the family. I'm not sure if Pastors don't want to tackle the subject because they are afraid of stepping on toes or what.

If we can strengthen the families in the local church then we can reach out to our next door neighbor. Along with our next door neighbor, we can reach our neighborhood and so on.

Thanks for the post. It was great hearing about all the different churches you've attended :)

Laury said...

I've found that our college age and young adults get lost in the church so many times. My daughter has been going through a process of finding her own church now that she's moved. It's been interesting to watch and I've been so proud.

She's now found a church that she loves and its pastor is 21 and has such a big and mature heart. He is her age but is married with one child and one on the way. It's amazing to me how you just know when you've found the right one.


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