Is the Church Building Still Relevant?
We live in a mobile age. Amazon has changed the way we shop. Texting has changed the way we talk. Social media has changed the way we keep up with our friends. Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify (or Apple Music 😇) have changed the way we consume media. So why are we still doing church the same way we’ve been doing it for thousands of years? Isn’t it a little outdated?
I’ve wondered this myself. And perhaps it is. At least partly. But I’m going to give you three reasons why I believe we should still have church buildings and actually show up to church in person for the worship service.
Human connection is vital
I realize that we often socialize online now and it’s almost weird to have a conversation in person, but maybe sitting next to someone in a pew or sitting across the table as you eat that taco salad and Special-K loaf isn’t the worst idea invented.
Maybe sitting next to someone in a pew or sitting across the table as you eat that taco salad and Special-K loaf isn’t the worst idea invented.
You see, people need emotional connectivity with other people. They need not only person-to-person interaction, but also a sense of trust and support from others. The best place to find and nurture those relationships is the church.
David once wrote a beautiful piece of poetry talking about harmony and unity. Here’s how it started out:
How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! Psalm 133:1
The heading to this Psalm says that it is a song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. I guess that means it’s for us. And it describes the way the church should be — living together in harmony as brothers!
The church is supposed to be a family. As members, we should be able to trust each other. Knowing that others are going through similar struggles to ours helps us find the kind of connection we need to thrive.
Christianity is contageous.
I once heard a story about an old man who decided to stop coming to church. He didn’t see a need for it. So the pastor of the church went way up in the mountains and found the little cabin that this man lived in.
As the two men talked, the pastor took the fireplace poker and separated one of the glowing coals from the fire, moving it to the edge of the hearth. Several minutes later he pointed out this coal to the old man.
“What do you notice?”
The old man simply replied, “It’s getting cold.”
“It’s the same way with Christians. If we separate ourselves from other believers, we will get cold as well.”
The old man came to church the next weekend.
Christianity is like anything else. The more you spend time with others who have the same desires and interests that you have, the more your excitement will grow. This is what the author of Hebrews was referring to in this passage:
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:24, 25
This verse comes with a warning attached. Yes, it says that we need to keep meeting together so we can motivate love and good works, but it also says that this is becoming more important as the day of Christ’s coming gets closer. That means today!
Meeting together is becoming more important as the day of Christ’s coming gets closer.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that we are finding excuses to not worship together as we get closer to the second coming? I don’t think so! This is why the warning is attached to the verse.
You’re part of something greater
Nothing says you’re part of something greater like getting together with others who are part of your organization. Yeah, when watching a sermon video online you can see how many views it’s gotten or who all has commented on it. If the video is live you can see how many others are watching with you. But it’s not the same as walking into church, shaking peoples’ hands, and feeling the energy of the congregation worshipping God together.
One time Jesus made this powerful proclamation to the disciples:
I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. Matthew 16:18
The church is a movement. It’s an army, defending and advancing. Each member is a soldier, standing side by side with their brothers and sisters. The more time we spend together, the closer we’ll get and the more influence we can have on the world around us.
The church is a movement. It’s an army, defending and advancing. Each member is a soldier, standing side by side with their brothers and sisters.
When you try to fight a war by yourself, it’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to think that you’re the only one fighting and that you may as well give up. But when you’re on the battlefield with millions of others, you realize that you’re part of something so much greater and you’re infused with hope regarding the outcome.
I understand that church buildings seem irrelevant. I firmly believe that the internet opens up increasingly exciting ways to reach people we couldn’t have reached before. But I don’t believe that it can replace what the church building can offer.
With the internet around, though, the church is no longer the authority figure. If someone wants an answer to something, they google it. They don’t call the nearest pastor. This means we have to shift the focus of our worship services.
If someone wants an answer to something, they google it. They don’t call the nearest pastor.
Today, the worship service revolves around the sermon. However, that is not what people go to church for. If they wanted a sermon, they could watch one online by a speaker who is much more eloquent than a local church pastor.
Our churches offer a real community. That is what sets us apart from the internet. My vision for the future is a church that embraces what makes us unique, harnesses the power of the internet for the things that it can do, and cares for the needs of humanity as Jesus did.
But until then, don’t give up on church. It still offers human connection, infects you with motivation for love and good works, and allows you to be a part of something greater. I firmly believe the church’s best days are yet to come.