Matthew 5:1–12, Matthew 13:1–9, Luke 4:16–21, Acts 16:11–15, Acts 16:23–34, Acts 17:22–29
Mountain, boat, synagogue, riverside, prison, Areopagus (formal public forum)
What do all of these have in common? Nothing.
What happened at each of these, according to the Scriptures? Messages were delivered regarding the Kingdom of God.
Only one of those places was a formal cultural place of worship. And the list above doesn’t cover them all. City gates, roads, public plazas had it happen there, too.
What we call the church (building) is only supposed to be a place to hear messages about the Kingdom of God, not the only one. Today, church is happening at bars (even Nazarene churches), the racetrack, the truck stoop, private homes, barns, coffee shops, and these are the organized churches. This doesn’t include other places of gatherings where the message is heard. However, despite the Scriptures themselves bearing witness to the diversity of places to deliver the message, the church today is pretty stuck on the church building.
So that we are all on the same page, this is not to say that the church building is bad. Quite the contrary. The issue at hand is that there is an unconscious (and conscious) thought process in the Western World that the big moving and shaking happens at the church.
However, when missionaries talk about changing lives it is so much more than the church. So much of the work of missionaries must be outside of the church, and not even on the grounds. As we progress more and more quickly away from the so-called Christian America, it is wise to look beyond the church walls. It is wise to look beyond the church. It is wise to look at our missionaries. They already work where we are headed.
We talk (rightfully) about bringing the Kingdom of God. Humanity, however, needs more than a concept, it needs a place. We each need to find places where we can meet with people where they feel comfortable so that their hearts are more open to hearing about God.
1) What places have you heard a church being held that bothered you? Why did it bother you? What about that place created an atmosphere of hearts being more open to God?
2) Why do you think we focus on church buildings as the place where church occurs?
3) Why is the church building often as dangerous to our spiritual growth as it is a barrier to those who don’t know God?