I am a church-planter turned pastor. Between our first meeting in April of 2009 and this day, ReCAST has grown from a church plant to a church. I am not sure how long you can call a church plant a church plant, because the reality is that every church was planted at some point, right?
But as we have grown, there have been a variety of challenges that we have faced and overcome on the pathway to becoming a church. And since gathering together is such a vital part of being a . . . Gathering (the definition of the Greek word for church: ecclesia), space has been a regular concern.
Back in March we moved from a small store front with two pretty packed services to a school cafeteria where we have been able to move back to one service, pay less, in exchange for a rigorous set-up and tear-down routine. We have been blessed by the school’s permission to leave our stuff set up over the summer, but that is coming to a close this week and we get back into the routine this Sunday.
As the pressure for space was relieved this Spring, the goal of building a building seemed to fade into the background and it has even seemed pleasant to me that it is likely far off. It probably is not as far from the minds of the set-up and tear-down crews.
But when it comes to meeting space for a church, there is the practical side of things, but there is also a significant theological issue. I have been recently challenged to think about how a church can possibly be planning to build a building while there are hungry and even starving people in the world!? A way I have formulated this question is whether or not this Kingdom needs more castles?
It would be easier to have our own building and that seems to be a pretty weak argument for spending a couple million dollars. It would be a building to glorify God and that seems even weaker, in that architecture is not leading people into the kingdom. A building would be an opportunity to serve our community which I think is getting closer to the mark on our calling, but still doesn’t quite put the hammer square on the nail.
But there is something about the word for church that I keep coming back to in this internal discussion on buildings. If we don’t gather we are not a church. The early church gathered in the temple courts near Solomon’s Portico, an expansive building set aside for the worship of God. The early church didn’t build it, but they did repurpose it for their need to gather.
I would not argue that a church needs to own or build a building in order to be a church, but I would argue that a church needs a place to gather in order to be a church.
I can make all kinds of arguments for modest and frugal construction and for practical construction over frivolous architectural glory.
I am still convinced that ReCAST is in a good place with plans to build while sacrificing and working to make a temporary gathering solution work for us. It has not been an easy road in regard to facility, but God has blessed us with amazing resources, awesome volunteers, and a gathering place in which we can be the gathering He has called us to be in Mattawan.
I am not convinced that castle building is a primary calling for churches in this kingdom of God. I believe calling out to more to come under the authority of the King is our primary duty. But consider . . . If we are effectively doing the work of the kingdom, we will be constantly looking for more room to bring in those who heed the call of the King. It need not be an ornate castle, but more coming in requires more gathering space. I am not building castle . . . I am helping to build a kingdom . . . But a part of that kingdom is a space to gather for servants of the King.