Last night a dinner companion raised an interesting point about churches focusing on the church building itself rather than the church... meaning the people. He raised an excellent point that the church service usually focuses on growth and renewal for believers, but often does not speak to unbelievers- if you can even get them in the church building. Many nonbelievers are intimidated and don't go to church in the first place. The solution? Take the gospel into communities, focus more resources on getting the gospel out of the building and into the people. Go to their worlds as we can not expect them to feel comfortable entering ours.
This led me to think of Tim Keller's ministry in NY. They do not even have a church building. They use an auditorium at a local college. It is really amazing that they reach so many people from all walks of life without a physical church building. The church is the people. They have small groups in people's homes and their money goes into different ministries to reach people outside the building. At first I thought it rather odd, then I realized how scripturally sound it is.
I really am not doing it justice here. The Sunday I went was so powerful. I was impressed by how many young people were there and by how many different races were there. It was one of the most beautiful rainbows I've ever seen. A young girl got up and spoke about her fear of starting a small group, but how God had blessed her efforts. I was awestruck that there in the big city there were so many small groups of believers holding Bible studies in their communities. It made me think of the ancient church, that is church held in people's home not in a physical building.
I'm not saying we shouldn't build churches. It just makes me wonder how much money we should use on the physical building vs the spiritual building. How can the church budget be heavier on the outward focus vs the inward focus? Can churches obtain as little debt as possible so that the money can reach those not in the physical structure?
This in turn made me think about our own financial situation. How much money do we have bound by debt? How is this limiting our ability to help others in need? It really isn't our money-it is Gods, and we are only stewards over it. What kind of stewards are we being? Is our focus more on what we can do for ourselves-how we can satisfy the greedy beasts that live in our hearts....do we waste more money on worldly gain, worldly pleasures for ourselves than what we invest in God's kingdom? Do we have an eternal view? Is it God or is it money we serve?
Open my eyes that I may see, open my mind that I may learn, open my heart that I may love you and your creations more than I love myself. Give me an eternal focus. Help me to not be a prisoner to money full of greed and my own pleasure. Show me the true meaning of success.
In Jesus name---Amen.