The church is not closing

 What do you think of when you hear about a church building closing? Do you feel sorry for the people of the church? Do you encourage them? Pray for them? Are you mad?

There are many different reactions I have heard from people when a church building closes. Our current church building is closing and going through a transition. There is a cycle of emotions but I believe there is one thing most people miss. The most important thing. The church is not closing, only the building is. The church, as a whole, is not based on the building or location. It is made up of the people who gather and worship together.

Our particular church building is a very beautiful, well maintained building. I have heard multiple people say "such a beautiful building," or "there is so much potential here." I agree with both of those statements and have battled them myself, but that is not what makes a church. We cannot thrive and make disciples by just having a beautiful building. We have to have the heart to go out and make disciples, in order to share our beautiful building. If that is not being met, then it does not matter what our location is or how our building looks like, because we are not building the kingdom of God.

Now, don't get me wrong, both my husband and I are saddened by the closing of our church building. It is a hard transition and not the first one we have endured. We have gone through many trials in our seven years of ministry, and this is just another. I believe that we have a positive attitude toward it all because we have seen many positive outcomes from a trial. It is still hard and no one wants to close a church building. A church family is an amazing thing, and it is hard to see a family be dispersed. It is never about the building though, that church family could meet in a home or a cafe during the week and still stay connected.

My husband and I were trying to plant an organic church a few years ago. There were many trials then too, but we felt we had more of a ministry there, without a building. Connecting with people, where they are at, is an amazing way to build relationships and get to know people. We can still go back to the coffee shop or restaurant we frequented and pick up where we left off, with whoever is there.

If you have read any of my other posts, you know I can put a song to anything, and this is no exception. I have been trying to find the perfect post for this song and I believe this is it. Some church buildings close because there is no growth and the people become content. Read through these lyrics and truly think about what they mean. Also, I challenge you to listen to the whole song, "What If I Gave Everything" by Casting Crowns.

                        "All my life I longed to be a hero
                         My sword raised high, running to the battle
                         I was gonna take giants down
                         Be a man You would write about
                         Deep in my chest, is the heart of a warrior

                         So why am I still standing here
                         Why am I still holding back, from You
                         I hear You call me out into deeper waters
                         But I settled on a shallow end
                         So why am I still standing here"

When a trial comes in your life, do you see it as a road block or just a speed bump? There are many examples in life where we need to stretch ourselves, in order to grow. Using a church building closure as an example, "why are we still standing here?" I was thinking of this song because, as a church, we do not want to just stand there and hope people come into our building. We need to go out, take that step out of the boat and allow God to lead us. I know many people have bitterness when their church building closes. There are many reasons for a closure, but truly reflect upon the health of your church. Has there been growth? Has there been outreach? Are you all still standing there, waiting for someone else to make the move? I cannot count how many times I have heard great ideas from members of a church, but they are not willing to execute it. If you don't, who will? From experience, a pastor cannot do it on their own, they need everyone to help and have willing hearts and minds. Maybe God has something amazing for you and your ministry, but you have to be willing to take the step. Give everything to God and allow Him to shine through you.

My challenge to you all is this, whether or not you are a Christian, be willing to take the step. Do you long to be a hero, as the song states? Having a trial, such as a church building closure, should motivate you to find a new ministry, a new church to attend, and new people to connect with. Please do not let bitterness or sympathy over take the situation. A trial can open up many doors, that you may have never noticed before. These doors could be part of your daily routine right now, but this trial will allow you to see a different light. Invite people over to your house to connect, have a Bible study, or just invest in someone else's life. Maybe there is a church that already has an established ministry in an area you want to serve. Go! That is a great new door for you.

Jesus commands us, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19a). The best way to do this is genuinely love others. That sounds so simple, yet vulnerable. Life is messy, and we have to learn how to bear our burdens with others and have one person we can trust without judgement. This is hard and you have to be real with someone, but in the end, it will be rewarding. You do not need a church building to do this, you do not have to have a Biblical degree or be a pastor. You just have to be you and tell your story.

I am attaching my husband's latest sermon, where he preaches about being "stretched for good."  He talks about a Biblical example of believers being dispersed and growing the kingdom.