Truth be told, that second paragraph and photo library by itself is a pretty solid blog post by themselves.
I however think that this impact to our building will allow us to do something amazing. From my point of view there are a number of things that not having a church building to go to will fore us to do.
As I put this post together, it gives me a chance to tie together somethings I have been seeing for the last 15 months or so.
Point 1. We can be deliberate about going to and experiencing different churches.
Now my proofreaders have suggested I be clear, that this section is NOT about leaving the church or abandoning it. If someone calls up and says “we need help bailing water, boarding up windows etc” by all means go and do that, now is the time to pull together as a church and show strength.
But this section is not about that, it is about taking advantage of a unique opportunity at some point over the next three months to do something we don’t normally give ourselves permission to do, learn from other churches.
In this blog post from right after our Jamaica misson trip http://blog.trainforpurpose.com/jamaica-diaries-the-secret-benefit-of-mission In this section: The hidden benefit for us: Church Hopping (not Shopping)
I proposed that we should as a church go out on purpose on a regular basis to different churches to make sure that we do not become stale. There is almost no way to do this in an acceptable fashion when your church is still standing and open at the same point that every one else is.
We have already have numerous ones contact us and offer up space and hospitality. We could go and share a service with them at least once in the next few months.
There are a number of really great churches in DFW that we can and should learn from. The building being damaged gives us as a church a convenient excuse to do that. Here is a list of the ones I thought did certain things particularly well from the 3 or four months of church hopping that I did.( The best Church in all of DFW ) You can use that list, or better yet, ask people at your office, on Facebook “If I wanted to go someplace really amazing for worship this week, do you have any suggestions?”
Point 2. We need to go out and reach people. Not having a building means we can focus on doing the church
I have had an undertone of anti-building ness in some of my posts over the past 15 months. The first post where I hinted at this thought was right after we got back from our Jamaica Mission trip. in this post: http://blog.trainforpurpose.com/jamaica-diaries-the-camera I point out the following as a lesson learned from the mission trip:
Lesson two, Mission work is more than construction. One of the side effects of our delay, was that we missed out on doing our scheduled construction work. At the time I was frustrated with that. I was ready to get to some “real work”. As it turns out, we were able to get plenty done. But the truth is no matter how well we build a foundation or room, it can never have the impact that we would have if we really reached and transformed one person’s life. So while a construction project is measurable, and definite, it felt by the end that was more about our vanity in someways.
I saw it first in our little mission trip and project, but the issue got larger as we returned to the states.
I have seen a number of things that make me question exactly what we are trying to do with our buildings. Here is an excellent thought provoking post The church is not the church building except when it is, where the author delves into our personal reasons for the church buildings we create.
In this video Rob bell talks about resurrection (if you can ignore the overuse of the special effects) Rob Bell points out that when Jesus was talking about the rebuilding of the temple he was not talking about a building, but was rather talking about a living and breathing temple, himself.
In this very excellent video http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/18/tending-the-garden-one-person-at-a-time/ former prominent evangelical leader Ed Dobson talks about the importance of one-on-one ministry to individuals.
The exciting thing about this, is that we can all be in ministry, and it only takes a space the size of our car to pull it off.
Prior to that I had became aware of the very loosely governed organization Christian Endeavor which allows young people to create their own leadership and ministries, (and has been following the same model for over 130 years) Which has been focusing on small self lead teams, meeting in small groups outside of normal church buildings.
My wife for years volunteered as a mentor in Waco, and she will tell you that one on one ministry to one person has been some of the most impactful work she has ever done.
All of this and a few more things lead me to write this post a few weeks ago, with the– now much more awkward– title RIP the Church Building where I suggest that moving out of the building and out into the world is the second path we can take forward.
To engage in real personal ministry, in small groups where all the people of the church are the church. Where we allow the temple to be destroyed, but raise it again inside of ourselves.
Point 3. We can pause and think about how we want to use our space.
I like to ask the question when trying to determine exactly how important or valuable something is: “If that ceased to exist, how would people be able to tell? What woud change?”
In general I think that most people believe that Church buildings are vacant except for one hour a week. While this is not true, most buildings are built to handle the Christmas and Easter service size, and then spend a lot of time figuring out how to use the building other times, or make sure that everything is turned off to keep electricity use down. Which means they are probably some of the most inefficiently used spaces that we tend to build.
In most cases, I think that if one specific church were to go away, the general impact would be the same as if one of the many CVS/Walgreens in your town shut down.
Not all buildings however are bad, And some would really be missed by the community. I specifically think of the best uses I have seen of church property.
First to come to mind is when the church is used as a relief staging location. I have friends in Ringgold GA, who had their entire Family Life Center turned into a Red cross triage staging location where doctors and emergency workers could care for tornado victims there.
Second is when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and the FLC you see with the missing roof in the pictures was converted to a refugee shelter for displace New Orleans residents and their families. For multiple weeks we were able to provide food, shelter, and place to shower to numerous families in conjunction with the Red Cross.
More long term than that I think of places like Mission Arlington or Union Gospel mission that use the facilities each and everyday to serve the needs of people. If you are familiar with either of those organizations, try to imagine how the communities they serve would answer the questions at the top of this section.
Beyond that I think of all of the travelling missionaries and mission teams that have been able to find a place to stay and a hot shower as they are going into and returning from the field.
All of the above experience convinces me of the following:
The future of the church either does not *require* a church building, or requires a very different one.
As we look to rebuild, perhaps we can
I think this is an amazing gift we have been given and I really look forward to seeing how our congregation responds.