The modern world has been distracted by buildings. When people think of the church, they picture a building with a high-pitched roof and a steeple. However, a building is not a distinguishing feature of a church. A building is not essential for a church to function. Church auditoriums have two main purposes, neither of which seem to be very important.

Firstly, they allow a large number of people to gather together for worship. However, celebrations really need several thousand people to be really effective. Most church buildings are not big enough for a decent celebration.

More important, although worship in a large group has considerable value, it should not be the primary focus of church meetings. The New Testament church met primarily for fellowship. A large meeting in a large building tends to be an obstacle to fellowship. The persecuted church has demonstrated that it can always survive without large meetings, however, if believers cannot have fellowship together. Christians primarily meet for fellowship, and special buildings and architecture are not necessary for fellowship. It depends much more on the quality of the relationships that Christians have with each other.

The second benefit of a large meeting is that one person can speak to a large number of people at once. Again, there can be value in this, if the people in the church cannot read, but if people have the Scriptures and are listening to the Holy Spirit, he will teach them. Modern communications also provide Christians with many avenues for receiving teaching without gathering together. Christian radio and television, the internet, audio tapes and videos are more efficient tools for delivering teaching to large numbers of Christians.

It is true that the first Christians gathered in the temple to hear the Apostle's teaching. However, they never owned the temple, it was actually the headquarters of their enemies. Also, it seems from Peter's sermons, that the meetings in the temple were more evangelistic than for teaching. When they were persecuted, the church was able to carry on without the meetings in the temple. (We need to be careful that we don't buy buildings in which to worship our pastor).

A church can meet anywhere: in the home of one of its members, in a public hall, a school, a tavern, a cafe bar, a sports stadium, by the river or in a cave. Therefore, owning a building should not be a high priority for a church.

Church buildings are often a hindrance to the spiritual growth of a church. They tend to make the church immobile and inflexible. Their design often makes it hard for Christians to have fellowship. They can easily become a symbol of pride.

A serious problem with church buildings is that, absorb a large amount of capital. However, capital invested in a building is dead. It does not produce anything. Christians should invest their capital in things that will bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. Furthermore, church building programmes tend to sap the energy of a church, reducing its effectiveness in evangelism.

Another problem with church buildings is that people can easily fall into the trap of thinking that Jesus is present in the church building. This can lead to a lifestyle, which is split between spiritual and secular. The spiritual is what is done when in the church building. God is left out of the rest of life. This is an enormous problem for the modern church. However, although we find it hard to imagine a Church without a special building for worship, it is not necessary to have one. Jesus' presence can be just as real in someone's living room or under a tree (if it is not snowing). We should be aware of his presence with us always.

The church model based on buildings is not appropriate in the third world. They do not have the resource to build specialist church buildings.

The most spectacular growth in history took place in the early church, which did not own any buildings. It often met in the homes of believers (Acts 2:46). In fact, many Churches were known by the name of the person in whose house they met. We have a record of the Church in the house of Nympha (Col. 3:14), and the Church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (1 Cor 16:19). Because the early church was not tied to buildings, it had a flexibility and a resilience that is lacking today.

Nowhere in the New Testament are Churches commanded to build their own buildings. A Church that is true to the Word of God will not need to own any buildings. A building is not essential for a church to function.

Gathering in a church building allows people to feel like we are doing something for Jesus, even though they are not.

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