According to the Christian Post there are 300,000 church buildings in the United States. You know how many Starbucks there are? 15,000. That's right!! Read that again, let it sink in. If my math is right that's a 20:1 ratio of church buildings to Starbucks. Hey, church, your butt is getting kicked when it comes to creating community, being seen as necessary integral part of daily life and it's by a business who's sole goal is to make money.
If you read part one of this series you know this series is about the statement, "The church is not the building." You likely know from the last blog that your church building IS IMPORTANT!! It matters.
In 1 Kings 10 the Queen of Sheba visits King Solomon. Here's the interesting part, she came to test Solomons wisdom, she wanted to see for herself if his reputation was on point. In verses four and five it says, "When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed."
Do you find it as interesting as I do, that she came for his wisdom but these two verses speak primarily to all the physical attributes of his palace? That's right she was just as impressed with the excellence of his palace as she was with his wisdom. I wonder if our church buildings speak to our guests the same way?
Recently I made the comment about the church getting it's butt kicked to someone that does not attend regularly. Their comment was along the lines of "If churches had friendly barista's and good coffee." Besides not understanding the spiritual importance (as most don't), here's what's being said without saying it, "If you provide a friendly loving reason that I can connect with, I'd be there." I know of churches with Barber shops, excercise gyms, coffee shops, creative rooms, etc. in them. The building as a part of the community leverages the church building in new unique ways. Unchurched non-Jesus-followers are in and out of these buildings seven days a week. That's leveraging the tool of the church building in a way that also honors God as much as a towering cathedral. Now imagine the impact that would make if 300,000 buildings suddenly began being community hubs and locally unique community hubs at that.
Just like Solomons palace told a story, your local church building tells a story. It communicates to your community. What is your current building saying to your community? Does it say we haven't changed in 50 years? Do you offer coffee at a service? If so what story does that coffee tell? Is is quality coffee or large brand name from the large brand name store? What do you allow the building to be used for? Is the carpet dated? Is the lighting dated? Is your building just for "the churched"? How does your local congregation uniquely assist the community with its building?
These all speak to our communities. The unchurched will not come to your service because of the building BUT it will help them feel more comfortable and help them "stick."
What would it look like if 300,000 buildings suddenly moved from "houses of worship" to "houses of community" where the building is a blessing to the community?