Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Church is Not the Building

This is a hard day! It is our last Sunday in the building we have been meeting in for five years. As a small church we have, out of necessity, been renters. Before this it was the municipal building down the street. Leaving there wasn't as hard for me because there was the excitement of the new building all fresh and new inside custom carpeted and painted to our requests. This time, we are "homeless". All of our things will be put into storage for the near future until God provides this Church a new home.
In the meantime we will be meeting at Willow Valley Resort, in a beautiful room. But we will have access on Sunday morning only and so our opportunities to minister from there during the week do not exist. In preparing for this change we have realized how much we do use our building in outreach and fellowship, not only on Sunday mornings. So, I am sad. Truly.
Please pray with me that God will open up just the right home for our congregation. One that would allow us to reach out, even more, and be conducive to growth. We feel that a church of about 75 to 100 would be about perfect for the family style worship and fellowship that we enjoy. I have nothing against bigger churches but do not want to lose the closeness and ability to truly know the people I worship with. To know when they are happy or hurting. To be accountable with each other. So many friends go to churches where they are not even missed if they are not there. To me, this is sad. To them...I don't know.
One of our couples has prepared their annual Christmas Dinner for the Church and we will enjoy it after the service today. Carol always goes way overboard with the preparations for this dinner. We used to have it at her house, an adorable cottage, but we have outgrown it. It was also usually in December...but in order to use our building, it is today.
Oh, I am sad...but...I believe that God has something better for us. I will really try to see this as an adventure.
I will be reminding myself all day that the Church is not the building and the people inside are coming with us on this ride to the unknown.
We had a faith building experience in getting the place we are leaving. The building had gone up for sale and we were just months from having to leave the municipal building since it was to be demolished to build a newer and better one. Pastor Mike and some of the men went to see this building and saw the possibilities. They tell us that they stood that day and prayed in the parking lot about the Lord's will. When Pastor Mike came to me to ask about the financial possibilites of purchasing the building I am afraid that I crushed his excitement and dream. As a Financial Professional I looked at the cold hard facts and knew it could not happen.
So, nothing happened for a while...but all this time Mike kept nudging and asking me just to go look at it. I wouldn't go and a few weeks later..he would say again, "You really should just stop by...look." Finally, to make him happy I called and set up a time to look at the building. I saw the potential. It was just potential because the place was a wreck! It had been a former dental lab. The floor was all chopped up with gas lines for equipment that was no longer there. It was now housing building supplies for the current owner, a contractor. But there was a room with a window in it...perfect for a nursery...There was plenty of room to have a sanctuary. I got hooked too. But still, we could not buy this building. It would have been irresponsible. So a few weeks later, I called the owner and suggested that he lease it to us. He was interested but quoted a price that was more than we could afford. I had to say no, again.
Then, one day, we got a call from the owner of this building. He had a buyer for the building who was willing to complete the purchase IF our church was willing to lease one side of it! Not only that, but they were willing to remodel that side to make it usable for us.
Now, in order for this to happen, they had to put in a handicap accessible bathroom and a closet. They had to build a ramp to the side door that we would be using. Paint, patch the floor and carpet. This was not a simple makeover...and it cost our church zero. The Lord's provision! We chose the paint color and the carpet and Mike made suggestions about lighting and floor plans, all of which were followed to a "T". you can see, we had "given up" this building three times before the Lord made a way. I know that if HE wants this church body to continue meeting together HE will make a way.
I would appreciate your prayers as we say good-bye to this provision from the Lord and look forward to what is to come.


Anonymous said...

In His time, he will provide!! Do you think you are limiting him to 75-100 and he may be looking at something bigger to bring in the community?? Just a thought...

Becky K. said...

That is a good question.
Can we limit God?
If He were to send in many, many people we would surely see it as His will and follow as He led.
It seems that churches each have personalities. Amazingly enough, in a church of about 30 people we have 1 full time pastor and 2 retired pastors who also preach from time to time. We are certainly staffed to do "bigger" things. Pastor Jack preached this morning and it was sooooo good.
Look, you have me blogging in the comments...Ha!

Kari & Kijsa said...

What a wonderful journey of faith! God seems to have something fabulous in mind!!

kari & kijsa

Mrs. Rabe said...

I am sorry for your sadness. It is a kind of loss, but the early church met in homes, and in the courtyard of the temple! They didn't have their own buildings. The church in Rome met in the catacombs below the city....God knows what He has in store for your church family. Watch Him work!

Anonymous said...

How about a barn!!! After Dee's comment that popped into my head!! That would be cool!! Buy property and build a barn. There are some around there that know just how to build one!!