as I prepare a sermon on John 2:13-25 for this weekend, the text is helping me to think about buildings, their role and importance for Churches today
From what Jesus does and teaches in John 2 (and in ch. 4) , it is abundantly clear that buildings don't hold any theological or spiritual significance. With the death and resurrection of Jesus we no longer require a physical building to meet with God. The Temple is no longer a place, but a person.
Having said that, while buildings don't hold any theological or spiritual significance, venues nonetheless matter. Our meeting place has implications for ministry and who will come and how many and from where.
God can grow a church from inside a dumpster if he wanted, by why make it a dumpster if we don’t need too? Why make it more difficult for people to come into church than we need. We want it to be as easy and welcoming as possible. Making the wrong choice from a human point of view may mean that it’s harder to do ministry, it decides the size of ministry, and it may even be the case that visitors are so repelled by the outdated 1960s pseudo-retro- never-to- be -in-fashion-again style of our venue, that they don’t want to come in at all.
Here are 4 tips for choosing a venue (and for redeveloping an existing venue):
1. What is the Church’s vision? What space do you need in order to fit the vision? Do you need a main meeting room with 50 seats or 300 seats? Do you require breakout rooms for kids programs and offices?
2. Location. You need to meet in the neighbourhood you are trying to reach. Some people are happy to travel, but you have to focus your ministry somewhere. Make it close to the people you are reaching.
3. Aesthetics. Despite all our claims about how appearances don't matter, the reality is they do. Perhaps because we're shallow but also because God has made us creative beings and visual beings. It is important to think not only about what kind of space suits your ministry needs, but what is the vibe we want to set. Every space has a vibe, make it one that reflects the ethos of your church
4. Cost. What is a realistic cost? Ministry is not about buildings, but buildings can facilitate ministry. So what is a respectable sum for you and your church?