The House of The Lord

I have been in a couple of churches where they have had large building programs and have taken on massive debt in order to build a new building or remodel an older building.  I found the constant emphasis on money to pay off the debt distracting and offensive.  We’ve also been in churches that were in store fronts and beyond a few pews didn’t look anything like a church.  Seems like there should be some middle ground between huge buildings like Crystal Cathedral and just any old building will do.

Now granted I understand that some small churches don’t have money to buy buildings and must make do as best as they can.  I also believe we as believers should spend most of our money for furthering the gospel than for building monuments to ourselves.  But what should our criteria be?  There is no mention of church buildings in the NT.  So does that mean, like some interpret, that we should only meet in homes?

Last night I was reading R.C. Sproul’s book A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity. When I read this:

For instance, generally speaking, churches have now moved in architectural design to create buildings that are built for the comfort and the convenience of the congregation.

Should that be our criteria for building a church building?

Or should our church building be reflective of the majesty of the Lord?

Later in the book Sproul says:

I sometimes wonder if we are more concerned about our own appearance, decorating our own bodies and our own homes, to a greater degree than we are of honoring God in worship.

Reminds me of the passage where the Lord rebukes the Israelites for building and decorating their houses while the Lord’s house was in ruins.

Haggai 1:2-15 (ESV)

2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.”
3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet,
4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?
5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.
6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to
put them into a bag with holes.
7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.
8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord.
9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.
10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce.
11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.
13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.”
14 And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God,
15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.


Does the Lord still care about our place of worship today?



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6 thoughts on “The House of The Lord

  1. I am in complete agreement with you. Thanks for sharing.

    Berean Wife Reply:

    Jennifer,

    Hello. 🙂

    This is an interesting thing to contemplate. Exhibiting respect, honor and Glory to the Lord in the corporate worship place while not being extravagant and spending money that we don’t have for buildings we rarely use. I’m glad I’m not part of building a church building right now. I’d never be able to make decisions. 🙂

    Berean Wife

  2. Wow….I just returned from a quick trip to NYC and read and finished the book you mention on the flight. It was WONDERFUL! I do believe there needs to be a middle ground. After all…we should do all for the Glory of God. On my visit I decided to take a break and pray. I went inside one of the beautiful old churches. The candles were lit, it was during the day (loved that it was opened) and the architecture was gorgeous. I have to admit…I was in complete and total bliss as I prayed with the beautifiul surroundings….it was heavenly! I think it does exhibit respect and honor…I had a friend from Europe who came to this country for the first time and commented that we have so many churches (I live in the Bible Belt) on every cornor but she said they all look like office buildings! How sad….Personally I believe we need to get back to some reverance!

    Berean Wife Reply:

    Sydney,

    Your experience is interesting. I had visited several large cathedrals in England when I was a teen. They were beautiful and majestic, even though they were mostly Catholic. I was at the time saddened by the fact that the cathedrals were toured through even while prayer services were going on. They had become sources of income by being a tourist attraction. 🙁 I agree with your friend that most of our churches here are like office buildings. Many times I’ve seen buildings which I had to wonder is that a church? Are we afraid to look like a church?

    I know there is a risk of becoming entangled in the trappings of furnishings and appearance like the Catholic Church has done. But surely the Lord still desires some beauty even if just a simple beauty. Our hearts and our actions should be the biggest portion of the beauty in our churches, yet I think that beauty will also be displayed in our attire and surroundings. Reverence is a good choice of words. I think Sproul also used “awe”. Those are missing in our typical “Jesus is my buddy churches.”

    I have enjoyed reading Sproul’s book. It has given me things to think about that often I’ve just never even contemplated. There are a few other points I’ve highlighted in his book about worship that I’ll share when I get a chance.

    Berean Wife

  3. In the OT, the house of the Lord was the Temple, that is where He would dwell among the people. The temple is now in the body of every believer, so I am in the camp that it doesn’t matter where one worships, just that we worship in Spirit and in Truth. I think corporate worship is important, though.

    I prefer the little country church house to the Romanesque architecture.

    Berean Wife Reply:

    Ma,

    I agree with you that in the NT the Lord dwells in us instead of just among us. That is why I’m conflicted about what we as a corporate church should do. That is why in a previous comment I said:

    “Our hearts and our actions should be the biggest portion of the beauty in our churches, yet I think that beauty will also be displayed in our attire and surroundings.”

    But then how do show the appropriate honor, respect and holiness? To me that means when I am joining together to worship corporately with other believers just any old clothes won’t do. No torn jeans, flip-flops, etc. Why? Because that is not adorning our bodily temple with reverence.

    The church building our church meets in is the classic little country church. (The actual picture is on the sidebar.) I’m glad that the Lord provided us with a church instead of a storefront or office building. I think it helps to focus us why we are gathered together. Yet, even so the word “Majesty” would never be what you think of when you see it. Do we lose some element of our worship when that is lacking? I don’t know?

    Sproul points out that our worship shouldn’t be based on feelings; however, we can’t ignore that feelings are involved. This is an interesting statement he makes:

    “Even though we are far removed from the old covenant ceremonies and rites, it appears to be consistent with the biblical pattern that we who live under the new covenant also should be concerned that our worship bear witness to the glory of God and to the beauty of holiness. It seems appropriate for our worship to be conducted in beautiful spaces with beautiful accouterments.” A Taste of Heaven

    So while I agree with you that it doesn’t really matter where we worship (picture the poor worshiping under umbrellas in Africa), I think that when we have a choice we should strive to worship in a manner reflective of the majesty, glory and reverence due the Lord. But then again, I could be wrong. 🙁

    Berean Wife

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