I got an email today from someone nicely checking in on me. In that email she brought up a point that rubbed me the wrong way because it touches so pointedly on the sore spot I’ve been trying to avoid.
I have always been suspicious of the folks who are anti-church. Not the atheists and the agnostics, but the people who are against big church buildings as houses for worship. It seems to me that just as God made folks with skills for doctoring (so we shouldn’t avoid doctors), God made folks with skills in architecture, stained glass, flower arranging and all the other things that are associated with Church In A Box. Why should we as worshippers deny those people an avenue in which to honour God with their talents? You can’t read Pillars of the Earth and not appreciate church buildings as a sort of offering to God.
More and more lately, though, I’ve come to question how I feel about Church In A Box. Last Friday everything sort of came crashing in together and I’ve been stuck mulling for several days now. I read on another blog about the high infant mortality rate in Tennessee. Now this is something I’ve known about for awhile, and done research on. I know there are many causes for it, but I don’t see what Christ’s church is doing to effect a solution. That same afternoon I read through some emails and saw a blurb about a bit of spending that part of Christ’s church is doing which doesn’t really seem to benefit anyone except the person receiving the money. Pardon if I don’t go into details–the specifics are somewhat confidential. But it’s yet another way in which we as Christians spend money without helping sick women and their dying babies.
I don’t believe the churches you see on the streets in your towns are there for those who are not believers. I strongly believe that the first purpose of those churches is to minister to the members of the family of believers. These believers, strengthened and grown in Grace, are to go ye into all the world preaching the gospel. By “preaching the gospel” i take that to mean the act of showing the world the face of Christ. Feeding the hungry. Clothing the naked. Doing unto the least of these. Church buildings and congregations are a necessary part of the food chain. Just as you have a home where you rest in between your work days, Christians have a church home for solace in between the times of their mission on earth.
It seems to me more and more, though, that we’re too busy turning these church homes into palaces and doing nothing more with our tithe dollars than recycling them through the wealth of the church. I somehow don’t think that’s the point of it all. Just look at the dying babies of Tennessee.
So yes, I think I’m becoming one of those people. One of those who questions the way God’s money–because that’s what tithes and offerings are–is spent. Is Christ more glorified by a new sound system or by the rescuing of one lost sheep?