“God is not calling us to go to church. He is calling us to be His Church…the hope of the world.” Craig Groeschel
Building a building for a church is unlike building any other building. For example, if you’re building a house for your own family, your focus will be on what meets your needs, preferences and tastes. On the other hand, if the church is merely a religious business, the focus is on attracting new customers. The bottom line is attendance and budget increases.
At Grace, we believe our mission is given to us by the Lord Jesus – it’s the Great Commission. It’s not about numbers or even converts, it’s making more disciples. A building is a tool to help us fulfil that mission.
To be Great Commission focused the building must primarily be about those we’re seeking to reach. It must feel friendly and transparent. As our society increasingly becomes unchurched, it’s vital that any building we build is seen as a place of hope, grace, caring, acceptance and love. Personally, I like the analogy of a clinic. While a hospital is for the sick, a clinic is for the sick yet is also committed to keeping the healthy healthy.
A new church building is not about increasing “customers.” At Grace, this commitment is a vital part of our DNA. We’re not looking for nor do we desire that folk already in good churches leave that church family because our building is new with better amenities (and coffee J). We believe the Bible teaches that a local church is a Body (1 Corinthians 12:27). One does not amputate and transplant haphazardly. Leaving a Bible-believing church should be very painful. There should first be valiant attempts at problem-solving, as there would be with a body, prior to an amputation.
Because there’s a lack of biblical understanding of the local church in American Christianity as a body or even family, many believers bounce from church to church. They don’t commit and if their agenda or “felt” needs are unmet, they’re off to date another church. And because a church is to love and care, they hurt the church family they abandon on a whim. They approach the church as a consumer: What’s in it for me? Rather than as a regenerate servant of Jesus Christ: How can God use me to be a blessing in this local church family?
The ideal in the Great Commission is a go (Matt. 28:19-20), not a come. Each believer is to go into their “mission field” (where they live and work) and build Gospel bridges. There should be a constant flow of those befriended by believers coming to new life in Christ and being discipled. Simply put, we gather for edification; we scatter for evangelization.
Because of our commitment to what we believe is a New Testament model, we seek to have what are truly worship services. We seek to be God focused with the teaching and preaching on heart issues not “felt” needs. We’re committed to systematically share what God’s Word teaches.
That, though, brings us to a Big Question: If we’re gathering for edification…Are we scattering for evangelization? The sad answer is NO! How do we know that? Look around. Look in your own heart. Look at your friendships. Do we regularly see believers bringing individuals they’ve led to Christ to church and that they’re in the process of discipling? When was the last time YOU shared the Gospel or led someone to Christ? What lost person are YOU currently building a Gospel-bridge with? Discipling?
For the most part, it’s not happening. While Jesus was the friend of sinners, most Christians aren’t friends of sinners. If they are, their purpose is only on being a friend, rather than sharing the Gospel. Unfortunately, too many Christians have difficulty relating to someone who’s unregenerate.
What should we do? Do we keep waiting, praying and hoping Christians will finally get serious about the Great Commission? Yes and no. Because in spite of our failure to go, God loves people so much He brings them to us. Most churches who are reaching people are reaching those who walk through their doors. The church at Philippi was founded with individuals who were part of a worship service, yet didn’t know Jesus. 1 Corinthians 14:23 talks about sensitivity to lost people attending worship services. God in His grace brings lost people through our front door. It makes sense then to make it easier for them to come through those doors.
Believers are a minority in this culture, so then each of us is a missionary in a foreign culture. Missionaries adapt their methodology to their culture. That’s very New Testament (1 Cor. 9:19-23). What missionary in a foreign country would expect natives to learn the missionary’s language so the missionary could share the Gospel? Instead you learn the language and culture, and adapt in order to win the lost in that culture. It’s very simple. It’s why we’re committed to building the type of building we’re building.
Most lost people are not interested in coming through the doors of a church that looks overly churchy. They’re not looking for some stained glass feeling. They’re looking for relationships, love, hope and purpose. Our particular culture is not educationally driven. While education is important, it’s not a driving factor. It’s why we’re not building a “school” ministry. Our particular culture is not artistically driven. The Arts are important but they’re not a driving factor. While there are segments in our culture that have other focuses, Wisconsin speaks “sports.” It’s our DNA.
During the next few weeks many will be nearly depressed. Football is over and there are little or no sports until baseball’s opening day. In most restaurants, if there is a TV, which channel is playing? ESPN. What brings people regularly together in homes or bars? The game. This is why we’re committed to building a multipurpose room that can be used for various sports and teen ministries, yet where we can also worship. We’re committed to speaking the language of the culture God has placed us in.
We must make our building inviting in the language of our culture. We’d be poor stewards to miss opportunities because of idealism. As we befriend the lost and see them come to Christ – the excitement of new spiritual life motivates us to be more committed to the “go” of the Great Commission.
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.