Human wisdom says we need a nice building to attract people. Human wisdom says making a good impression on people will keep them coming back. Human wisdom says “you build it and they will come.”
Here’s the thing: Human wisdom isn’t what makes an eternal difference in people’s lives …. but rather, what happened at the cross.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor. 1:17-18)
Just as words of human wisdom are insufficient to change lives, so are church buildings born out of human wisdom. When we focus on anything but the power of God, exhibited in the Gospel, as the means of making an eternal difference, it is as though we are emptying the cross of Christ of its power. That includes reliance on the building and all its trappings (technology, lighting, furnishings, etc.) to do ministry. It is like we are saying the Gospel isn’t enough.
How We Inadvertently Rely on the Church Building to Make an Eternal Difference
Nice buildings in themselves are not wrong. They can actually be useful tools in making an eternal difference. The problem comes in …
- putting so much focus on them that they draw attention away from the cross
- thinking that we can’t make a difference if we don’t have them
- believing we are making a difference because we do have them
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal. 6:14)
How the Gospel is What Makes an Eternal Difference
1) The Gospel, what Jesus did in dying on the cross and coming back to life, “is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).
1 Thessalonians 1:5 says, “our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” When we put too much emphasis on the place we meet, it’s like we are rewriting Scripture to say, “our gospel came to you not simply with words but with a building that should impress you and persuade you.” Let’s not rob the cross of its power.
2) The cross of Jesus is what brings unity and fellowship among believers.
Ephesians 2:15-16 says, “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” Notice that a nice fellowship hall or coffee bar in your church is not what makes the Church into a community of believers. Let’s not rob the cross of its power.
3) The cross is what brings healing and victorious living into people’s lives.
1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” Col. 2:14-15 says, “having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” While inviting offices with comfortable chairs for pastoral counseling or even a church counseling center might be nice, these luxuries are not what will change lives. Let’s not rob the cross of its power.
4) The cross is what equips people to be holy.
Colossians 1:22 says, “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Having a wing of your church building devoted to Christian Education and fully equipped classrooms is wonderful but insufficient to make a difference in who people are before God. Let’s not rob the cross of its power.
The church building is not that which changes lives. Rather, the cross of Christ, the Gospel, is the power of God that equals an eternal difference. Remember that when evaluating your facilities. Remember that in plans for renovating or building. Remember that when considering how much time, effort, and money to invest into the place you meet. In any kind of facilities management, keep coming back to the cross.