King David of the Old Testament had it in his heart “to build a house for the Name of the LORD my God” but God wanted his son, Solomon, to build it instead, telling him, “You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood” (2 Chron. 22:7-9). Elsewhere we read how the temple that was eventually built was called by His name. It was a means of proclaiming who God was, bearing His glory.
Because this references a particular time, place, and people, we, as the Church, are not expected to use it as an exact model for our facilities but there may be some principles we can glean. Certainly in church building projects, we should want to be able to say we are building it “for His name” so we need to think through the ramifications of that.
How Church Buildings Reflect the Glory of His Name
To call something by God’s name is to identify it with Him, His personhood. Consequently, the glory isn’t in the building itself but in God. Any church building or use of a church building must reflect God’s character in order to bring glory to His name. Even the way we steward our facilities needs to line up with God and His ways.
A building bearing His name must therefore have more than His name above the doorway or in front of the sanctuary. It must be a place honoring to God, a place in which He is pleased to make His presence known. We must ask, Is the Presence of the Lord is in This Place?
To help us know if our building projects, facilities management, and stewardship reflect the glory of His name, ask:
1) Are we turning to God for help in building projects and facilities management or are we treating it like any other kind of business venture?
While we might need legal and professional consultation in building or maintaining a church building, the first place we should turn is to the Lord. If He was able to create the heavens and earth, certainly He can help us in our building projects. We must call on His name for help (Ps. 124:8), protection (Jn. 17:11), and the confidence (Prov. 18:10) we need. So much can go wrong when it comes to church facilities from safety issues to unity breaks, that we need to constantly trust in that name for which the facility was built.
2) Are we seeing the power of God at work or are we merely “doing church” in our buildings?
Where God’s glory resides, there is power because He is a great and awesome, omnipotent God. When that happens, Psalm 75:1 should be our experience. — “We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.”
3) Are people sensing God’s presence when they attend or is their focus more on the facilities?
If our buildings and how we use them are more about making ourselves feel good or important, perhaps we need a change of attitude and perspective if our facilities are going to reflect the glory of His name. — “Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” (Ps. 115:1)
How Church Buildings Fail to Reflect the Glory of His Name
Certainly it isn’t enough to merely “say” our facilities are built for His name. In time, the Old Testament temple failed to reflect the glory of the name it bore as it became a place where “detestable things” were done and “detestable idols” were set up, and it became a “den of robbers” (Jer. 7:10-14, 30). They had “defiled” the house that bore His name (Jer. 7:30). As a result, failure to reflect His glory meant no power and God went silent on them.
If we want our buildings to reflect the glory of His name and exhibit the power that comes with it, we need to ask ourselves:
1) Is there anything we are doing in the use and stewardship of our buildings that dishonors God and therefore defiles it?
2) Have we put such an value on our buildings or anything in them, that it takes God’s place, becoming like idols?
3) Have we forgotten the real purpose for a church building, stealing from God’s glory?
If you have to answer yes to any of these questions, prayerfully and carefully take measures to change course.
Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” (Ps. 79:9-10)