Journey Vision

Can You Be A Church Without A Building?

I started feeling like God was calling me to start a church about a year and a half ago. It's hard to believe that so much time has passed. At times I have felt like I had already failed because, after all those months, we still don't have a building and a big crowd of people.  As I look back on it now, I realize that God was using that time to take me on an important journey. I had to get beyond what I thought church was supposed to be so that could connect with what the Bible said it is supposed to be. So for the past 18 months or so, I have studied what the Bible had to say about what church is and what it is supposed to do. I also spent much time in prayer, read many other books, and talked with a great many people about church.

Through that God made some things very clear.

What church IS. There are many things that church IS. When we study the New Testament we find the word “church” used to describe people. Specifically, it refers to all people who have accepted Christ. In other places it refers to church as a gathering of these people. In some instances it refers to a local body or Christians. Jesus called said that the church was a light to the world. Clearly there are many things that the church IS.

What church is NOT. While there are many things that the church IS, there is at least one thing that the church is NOW… a building.

Can you be a church TODAY without a building?  Throughout the New and Old Testaments we see where a gathering place for worship was important. The nation of Israel carried their worship space with them as they travelled through the wilderness. God gave specific instructions as to how it was to be built and then had those instructions recorded in the Bible. In the New Testament we see where Jesus, Paul, and Peter all spoke in the synagogue or the temple. However, nowhere do I see where the church WAS the building. Neither do I read any requirement for having a building in order to be a local church. 

In fact, in the New Testament we see multiple references to the church gathering in people's homes. One of Jesus' most famous miracles occurred while He was preaching in a home. Some even believe this having been his own home. (1) in another instance we see where Paul references the church to meets in the home of a couple named Priscilla and Aquila.(2) Paul once preached so long in a home that a yong man fell asleep in  a second story window and died. Paul raised him from the dead and continued to preach.(3) It seems clear to me that you can be a church without a building.

 But, what does it look like to be a church without a building?

If I’m honest I don’t, yet, know exactly what it looks like to be a church without a building. However, as we continue to move forward I will be sharing what I think it looks like for Journey Church.

Footnotes

1.) Mark 2:1-12

2.) 1 Corinthias 16:19

3.) Acts 20:7-12

 

What Is Church?

What is church? 

As I felt God calling me to start a church, I was faced with this question. In my mind, I couldn’t really hope to start church without understanding what church is. I grew up in church. I have served within the church since I was a kid. I have served as a children’s pastor and in other roles within the church for 10 years or more. 

As a result, I have a lifetime of experiences, training, and other people’s opinions of what church is. If I was to truly understand what the church is I had to overcome all this history and seek what the Bible says about what church is. This is not to say that I doubted what I was taught, or my teachers. I am not discounting my past experiences. But, I felt the need to answer this question for myself, by seeking what the Bible said about it. 

Is church people?

My whole life I was told that church is not a building, but the people. This goes well with Scripture as Paul often refers to the Church as a body. He then refers to the people within the church as parts of that body, with Jesus as it’s head. So, is church people?

Is church a building?

When most of us think of church we think of a building. If I said, “the church on the corner,” most people would think of a building, not a bunch of people standing on a street corner. So, is church a building? As I study scripture I don’t read anything that seems to suggest that church is a building. Certainly we read of people gathering in a building. There is a great deal of importance placed on the temple throughout the Old Testament. So, is church a building?

Is church an organization?

In the eyes of government a church is an organization, even a business. We often think that way too. When we think of First Baptist Church of wherever, we often think of an organization. There is some truth to this. There is leadership structure. There are bills to pay. There are financial reports. A church has many aspects of a organization. So, is church an organization? When we look at the church throughout the New Testament we see

Is church a gathering? 

The word that is often translated as church in modern language is the greek word “ecclesia”. This word refers to a gathering of people. We see this example throughout both the Old and New Testament. We see this in modern church as well. When we talk of “going to church” it is the gathering, as much as the building, that we are talking about. This, along with the Biblical precedence and the original word used makes it clear that gathering is at least part of church.

So, what is church?

This is a question I had to work out as I worked towards starting  church and as I sought God’s vision for this new church. I’d love to say that I have the full answer to that. But I don’t. Even if I did, I’m not sure that  I would share them with you. You see, as we move forward as a church I think that each of us needs to do our own exploration about the question, “What is church?” 

In the coming weeks I will be sharing the vision I believe God has given me for this church. This is why I’m asking this question. As I share the vision for Journey Church, it is important that we each explore the question of what church really is. 

Please take time to consider for yourself exactly what church is.

Why Does the Church Exist?

Why Does the Church Exist?

In 1995 a pastor named Rick Warren wrote a book called “The Purpose Driven Church.” In it he set out to answer this very question. He outlined five purposes that, according to scripture, the church was designed to fulfill. These five purposes are:

  1. Worship
  2. Fellowship
  3. Evangelism
  4. Ministry
  5. Discipleship

I could take time and break down each one of these, but that book has already been written. But there is a bottom line that all five of these have in common. Most churches these days have a purpose statement. In that statement they try to outline, in a sentence or two, why they exist. Most of them will come down to this simple truth:

    The church exists to help people come to Jesus and to grow in their relationship with Him.

That’s what the five purposes that Pastor Rick outlined are all about. Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” (1) References such as this, to the “Son of Man” refer to Jesus. So, Jesus is saying that the reason HE came was to seek and to save the lost. The lost would be those that don’t yet have a relationship with Jesus. If this is why Jesus came, shouldn’t the church He created share in that purpose?

Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament, the second section of the Bible, reinforces the importance of this when he wrote, “…I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.” Clearly Paul, who God chose to write most of the New Testament, was passionate about helping people have a relationship with Jesus. 

So, why does the church exist?

The church exists to help people come to Jesus and to grow in their relationship with Him.     

So, if this is why the church exists, shouldn’t everything we do be focused on this purpose? 

As we seek to start new church, I think it is important that we understand that THIS is why we exist.

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 19:10
  2. 1 Corinthians 9:22