Growing up, I thought the church was the building. The church was a place that people went to. It was only as I grew in my faith that I understood that the people are the church and the building is a place for the church to meet.
While there is still some confusion in this area, in general there has been progress among Christians as to the nature of the church.
But just because the building is not the church doesn’t mean that the building is not important. I have heard a number of horror stories of churches falling into the trap of deferred maintenance. Since they didn’t take care of things before they got big, money that could have been used for ministry needs to be allocated to major repairs.
Having an attractive and useable building does make ministry easier. Yes, a church building can become an idol, but it doesn’t have to.
However, it is more than just having a space in good repair. There is a psychological effect on the congregation when the building is kept up.
We are in the midst of renovations at our church. We have had our roof repaired (it was leaking), our stonework fixed and our renovating our Family Room with a new floor and a new colours for the walls. We were even able to get a grant for this renovation, since that space is used to help people in our community.
I noticed that even the fresh coat of paint made a difference about how people felt. It feels like things are happening and people are excited about church.
The nice looking building is not the end goal, it is a part of our mission to build God’s kingdom in our community.
So in your efforts to distinguish the church from the building, don’t let that lead to letting your building fall into disrepair.