Sunday, May 24, 2020

Is meeting in a church building essential?

Is meeting in a church building essential? No. But, my “why” comes from following Jesus, not a political or economic view point. “Church” is not a building, organization or denomination. For the first 400 years it was almost always groups of 10 or less. It only needs 2 or 3.

Church-as-we-know-it in America is a building-based, “come to the building” mentality. But, this is not the original understanding: no church building existed for the first 400 years of Christianity, for one simple reason: it would have been destroyed or confiscated in the many persecutions that happened. The “gatherings” (what ekklesia, “church,” means in the Greek of the time) were mostly in houses, sometimes in prison and often on the street, walking along the road.

Cupcake Christianity in America requires cushy seats, an expensive HVAC, paid professional speaker/comedian and band/singers and infotainment for the children/teens for what is essentially a religious performance wrongly called “worship,” to make the listeners feel better, be better, be “fed,” under the ruse that this is sharing the good news about Jesus. Ha! Almost everyone there has already heard the message, and they are “preaching to the choir.” It is not new news for almost anyone who hears it, just a numbing drone drowning out the heartbreak and cries of the world outside that really does need the good news of Jesus.

“Worship,” again in the Greek of the day (and made explicit in the New Testament) is not a feel-good-make-God-feel-good-by-singing-nice-things-over-and-over-about-God thing. “Worship” is being “poured” (leitourgein), as in poured out, offered up, expended. It is not something you do in a couple hours, nor could you. It is an expending of your life in service to the Lord Jesus. “Present your WHOLE self as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which IS your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). The next verse could apply to how we wrongly view “God in a building box worship” in America and the West: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). We do not have to be pressed into the church-in-a-box, church-in-a-building mode, but can have a transformed view with an mind changed by the Good Book.

“Worship” looks like Jesus dying on a cross, a life expended and given up in obedience to a loving Father’s will in a world full of horrendous evils. There is no room, really, for such suffering in Cupcake Christianity, nor for such sacrifice, dedication or fanaticism. Nope. CC is all about dumbing down the medicine, serving with a lot of sugar so it is palatable (and about counting nickels and noses). An inoculation effect has taken over so that most CCs in our country cannot even see the text of the Bible that talks about what real worship is. They only see through their building-fogged CC lenses.

I’m guessing I lost most of you much earlier in this post, so it won’t hurt to finish honestly with this: fanaticism is the only acceptable standard for Jesus-followers. Can Jesus’ execution on the cross as a central symbol of the kingdom message mean anything less? A building kinda hampers radical followers of the Cruciform and Crucified One. No buildings needed (many types of businesses are learning this also during this pandemic). COVID19 does not affect church-as-God-wants-it at all, except perhaps to make it more clear why biblical small gatherings around caring meals and simple Bible study are much more built for the world ahead, and the only way to survive persecution, since a single match or power outage or flu shuts down CC. Not to mention: a LOT of money flows away from building mortgages and maintenance and toward mission and compassion.