I worship in a church building, it’s 90 years old, and has its faults, but it’s an officially recognized church building just like many that were built in that time frame.
Other buildings are much more modern (and have nicer amenities) and they are also church buildings. During the summer, there are churches which meet outside – cooler and marks their presence in the community. Or maybe they do ‘church in the park’ once during the season. In places like Guam or some places in Mexico or Hawaii, a bonus for the church is to be able to meet on the beach.
Nobody says a thing, it’s just a church being the church. People applaud their creativity, and admire their attempts to draw people in or to provide a beautiful setting for worship. And besides these churches have a church building. Maybe it’s a store front, but it has seats and an altar, and everything else needed for a church to be a church.
When my church holds an event outside, it’s considered evangelism and outreach, and nobody thinks twice. But there are churches all over Asia that don’t have a building. They meet under trees to provide shade from the sun, and some sort of shelter during the rainy season. And the Church of the First World slams these Third World churches for not really being a church. –They don’t have an organ or piano or keyboard. Where are the hymnals, or the big monitors so people can sing along? Where are the racks for the Bibles? Where is the church? And by church we mean building. We forget that the church is the people. See how some people plan to worship 4 minute video clip but might have their plans changed during the rainy season.
But a building, a place to meet does make a difference. In South Asia a church provides a safe and comfortable place to meet, to worship, to pray together. Churches in the US have multi-year capital campaigns to get the money for fancy new buildings. In Asia a church building can be built for anywhere from 10-40 thousand dollars depending on size and location. But let’s say a building costs $11,000.00. That’s still a multi-year campaign for some of the poorest of the poor, but something that’s very doable with the help from others. These buildings are more than just a convenient place to meet. A church building is a center for loving fellowship and a Launchpad for reaching the community.
In many parts of the world, a church building seems like an investment that is totally out of reach, but that building serves several purposes: It helps the community see Christs’ worth. People make a sacrifice to honor Him. People in the community (non-believers) know that there is a place they can go to seek answers or to find someone to pray with and for them. The building can be a hub for ministry activities throughout the week and so discipleship of believers is supported.And the building might not look anything like we expect.
Would you travel, in stormy weather to meet under a tree, and perhaps have the worship service, flooded out? Probably not. Americans like to be comfortable. So do people in the poorest parts of Asia, and we have opportunities to help. donate here