Sunday, September 21, 2014

SHOULD A CHURCH HAVE A BUILDING?: SCS No. 20

National Cathedral

Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 20

(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life. Stoney Creek Sermonettes are not meant to replace your participation in a faith community.) 



Scripture Lesson for Today: Acts 17:1-7 English Standard Version (ESV)

Paul and Silas in Thessalonica

17
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

Sermonette for Today:

I asked the question about whether a church should have a building because the question always comes to my mind when I think of the cost of these buildings.  Not just the cost of building them, but the cost of their weekly and yearly maintenance. The amount of money spent on them in this country alone is enormous considering there are suppose to be about 300,000 Protestant churches (excluding Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches simply because the study I have access to was done by a Protestant organization). 

The early church did not have buildings.  Church buildings began with the conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity.  When he built the Church of the Apostles in Constantinople, he surrounded a single tomb reserved for him with monuments to the twelve apostles clearly making himself the thirteenth and possibly chief apostle.  He built St. Peter’s over what was thought to be the tomb of the Apostle Peter in Rome and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem over what was thought to be the tomb of Jesus.  This practice of building structures over burial sites was a practice that Constantine carried over from his pagan days.

In our Scripture today Paul went into the synagogue and spoke with the people there.  He did not hold a church service in the synagogue as some people claim the early church did.  Our scripture does say, “These men who have turned the world upside down.”  The early church sat the world on fire starting on the Day of Pentecost and they did not have a building to worship in for over 300 years.  Let me make clear that the scriptures do not forbid churches from having buildings, but are they worth the expense.

In my opinion if you take the success pointed out in our scripture lesson and contrast that to the declining influence of the church today, I am not sure you can justify the expense of the expensive buildings, electronic equipment and paid staff that is the modern church.  I humbly suggest that we might consider returning to the model of the church presented in the 2nd chapter of Acts.

Acts 2: 42-47 (ESV)
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[e] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

All believers are to be ministers/servants of the kingdom to the glory of God and His Son.  I think we should try a church without buildings, but full of believers that are builders of their hurting and lost fellow sojourners.  That is my prayer for the modern church.
 

Prayer for Today:

Our Heavenly Father, May we learn to see each other as you see us and to find the purpose you have for us and live it to the fullest in honor of you and your Son. It is in His name we pray this prayer. Amen.



© Ed Cooper, September 21, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
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