When Jesus said to the disciples "I will build my Church" (Matthew 16:18), he was not referring to bricks and mortar but to flesh and blood. Our human nature wants to build something tangible as an act of worship.
Peter's response on the Mt. of Transfiguration when Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus is the typical human reaction, "Let's put up three sheltersone for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah" (Luke 9:33).
Jesus was talking about a spiritual kingdom comprised of his followers who will expand his kingdom by proclaiming good news and performing good works in his name. The church is not a building. The church is people. Jesus did not say, "I will build a building." He said, "I will build my Church." There is a big difference.
Though the church is a universal and spiritual reality, it also has a visible and physical expression. Whenever followers of Jesus gather together in His name, they meet in a place. They are the ecclesia "assembly," a tangible expression of the body of Christ. These assemblies meet in a place. This place becomes sacred space not because of location or architecture but because Jesus is present with them in a spiritual and corporate sense.
Buildings are not the primary goal of the Church, but they do serve a purpose and location matters! That's why I have co-authored "Church Locality: New Rules for Church Buildings in a Multisite, Church-Planting and Giga-Church World" with church facility specialist Tim Cool to help church leaders leverage location and facility for maximum Kingdom impact. This book is all about the locations and facilities that reproducing churches are utilizing today to extend their reach and impact. When talking about the convergence of church locations and church facilities we coined a phrase to focus this conversation: Church Locality (location + facility = locality).
The early followers of Jesus began the habit of meeting regularly together on the first day of the week (Sunday) to commemorate the fact that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. They met to worship, to be instructed, to pray, to break bread together, and collect offerings to help the poor and spread the good news (1 Corinthians 16:2). They met in buildingstemple courts, homes, market-places, synagogues, schools, and even underground cemeteries called catacombs. Eventually they constructed buildings and built large cathedrals.
Today there are new factors that are dramatically shifting the way we build and utilize church facilities.
The emergence of multisite strategies, resurgence of church planting and the exponential growth of giga-churches are changing the church building conversation.
Growing churches today are utilizing existing commercial facilities, re-purposing existing church buildings and constructing community-friendly facilities to reproduce themselves for greater outreach and impact.
In our book "Church Locality" we have compiled practical articles to help church leaders when thinking about buildings and site selection for new campuses, church plants and church construction. It's about being good stewards and making the best use of these places where visible communities of faith gather together in Jesus name.
Where we do church and how we utilize facilities for church makes a big difference in how we are the Church in the community.
Are you leveraging your church location and facility for maximum community impact and Kingdom gain?