Most churches I have been a part of over the years have undergone a building project or extension at some time. Of course, a church is not a building nor is a building ever meant to be the vision or the focus. After all, buildings don't change people's lives but what happens in them can and does. When the building project is finished, it is easy to think that the work is done. But in reality, the work is only just beginning. Buildings are a tool to continue to carry out the mission of the church.
Not only do churches have building projects, GOD has his own building project. Listen to what the apostle Peter has to say about this in one of his letters …
1 Peter 2:4-5. As you come to him (Jesus), the living Stone — rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. NIV
We as the people of God are his temple, his house, his home – the place where he lives. This is a common theme throughout the writings of the New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and 2 Corinthians 6:16). As God's temple, the church is not finished yet. God is still building us together as his people. In fact, in many ways, building projects can be prophetic pictures of what God is doing in the spiritual realm. There are foundations that remain, but there are areas that are being pulled down and taken away so that new areas may be constructed. It’s called renovation! The English word literally means “to make new”. We can think of remodelling, redecoration, refurbishment, updating or improving a building or place.
My wife and I have done a lot of renovating over the years. One of our favourite TV shows is Grand Designs. Renovating can be exciting BUT it is also messy, inconvenient and uncomfortable. There are often obstacles or unexpected twists in the renovating process. It often costs more money than initially budgeted for and it usually takes longer than anticipated. However, it is worth it in the end.
As God renovates his church, there needs to be some letting go of some of the old. The prophet Jeremiah was called by God to uproot, to tear down, to overthrow, to destroy (that sounds like demolition!) then to build and to plant (see Jeremiah 1:10). In every local church, people come and go, leaders come and go, there are staff changes from time to time, and ministries and programs need updating or replacing because they are past their usefulness date. This is normal – letting go of the past.
Mindsets need to change and new ways of thinking need adopting. If you are growing, then you are continually open to change and seeing things in new ways. The church has to change or it will die. Our message (Jesus!) doesn’t change but our methods need to constantly be updated to remain relevant and fruitful in a rapidly changing culture.
We also need to reach out to embrace new things – new spaces and places, new leaders, new people, as well as new ministries and approaches (doing things differently). This is not easy – it involves grief and loss, as well as some discomfort and a period of adjustment as we navigating seasons of change such as this.
As you think about your local church or the community you are a part of, ask yourself this important question: “What can I do to further embrace this time of renovation and work with it?” Continue to let go of the past and reach out for a new tomorrow.
Next: Your Story Building Project