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?