I have fears about our church. I’m scared of my leadership incapabilities, but I suppose that is part of the plan on this crazy, church planting journey. I am scared of not being able to lead our team through another Phoenix summer of setting up and tearing down every Sunday morning, and I fear I don’t have the inspiration-giving capacities to keep morale up.
In my fear, I can turn to one of two saviors for peace and assurance. One is true and faithful and will ask me to trust despite not knowing what will happen, and the other is false and functional.
To my shame, I have prayed, “God, if you would just give us a building, our church will be alright.” What I mean and am too ashamed to admit most of the time is, “If you will give us this, our church will be alright without you. We can make it on our own.”
When I read the New Testament, church history, and even look at a plethora of contemporary church plants, I know this functional savior of a building with permanent signage, community credibility, and comfort is calling me to trust her rather than Christ. It is a powerful myth that I am all too often and all too ready to believe. Here is what I try to remind myself of when that soul-sucking siren starts calling my name.
Success Doesn’t Depend on Signage
Signs don’t bring people. People bring people. Now, to be sure, we do put out signs, and people have come to our church because they saw our signs. And that’s with the limited, three-day timeframe we can have them out. But no one has or will ever say, I came back to your church because of the signage. People stick because of people, not signs. That’s because people stick to people, not signs.
A Building Doesn’t Guarantee Credibility
There are plenty of church buildings sitting empty because the “church” that meets there either stopped acting like a church or ceased to be a church. When God’s people regularly repent of sin, are reminded to believe and trust the gospel, and bring their friends, it really doesn’t matter where you meet. Jesus and the gospel are more powerful than any venue.
Comfort Has Never Been the Plan
We live in a comfort driven society, and as such, we do less and less of the really important things. Many Christians, myself included, have bought into the lie that easier is better. We want everything fast, simple, clean, no-assembly-required, little-effort-as-possible, and most importantly, pain-free. And Jesus looks at us, shaking his head with the slight grin of a knowledgeable older brother, saying, “Nope. That isn’t the plan.” Pain is the plan: the pain of not knowing, the pain of failure, the pain of patience. It’s all rigged to produce faith.
So, I can choose to be jealous of the churches that have facilities and subsequently believe God likes that church more than mine. Or, I can believe that God is for us, our comfort is not the goal, and just keep telling my friends outside the church and reminding my friends inside the church of this awesome man named Jesus.