Our last Sunday in the Danbury building will be January 18, 2015. Interestingly, many people ask questions showing a misunderstanding about “church” and about what is happening. Often I hear questions asked which imply that once the building is sold we will no longer exist as a church. This could not be farther from the truth of biblical teaching.
The word “Church” in English is actually a very different word from the one used in the New Testament—they are not even related. However, there is some cross-over. Our word “Church” comes from the German word kirche. This word finds its origin in the Greek word kyriakon. Literally it expresses the idea of “The Lord’s house” kyri-a-doma (Dictionary.com). The New Testament word for church is ekklesia. This Greek word defined an assembly of citizens called together to make decisions and take action. It was the meeting where civic body acted in concert. The New Testament church is the gathering of God’s people acting in concert in service to God.
By looking at the different words you can see the problem. The New Testament idea of church doesn’t assume a special building or place of meeting. It assumes a collection of people called out from the world coming together as the local expression of Christ. The modern English word “church” is very hard to separate from the concept of a building where special services are held and functions are performed. The modern idea would have reminded the apostles of the Jerusalem Temple. However, the temple was a picture of the assembly of the people. We are the temple of God and no building can usurp that role.
Yes, we are selling our building. We will, for a time, not have a regular facility dedicated only to meetings and services. The board has decided to spend some time meeting in a home. This means we will likely go “from house to house” for a time. This is actually biblical and more in keeping with the New Testament. Will this be our permanent condition? That is up to God. He has to guide us into his plan for the church.
During this time, keep in mind that we are still a Church in the New Testament meaning—we are an assembly of believers called out to be the local expression of Christ. Also, keep in mind that Christ promised to be in our midst wherever two or more are gathered in his name. He didn’t say, “When you gather in a suitably dedicated building, I’ll be there.” We could gather in a house, in a barn, in a tent, in a field and Jesus would still be there among us. The important thing is continuing to love one another in the name of Christ and to live out the gospel where he has us.
After January 18, we will no longer have a building. However, we still have a temple. You and I are each stones in that edifice built by God. It is a living temple, built of the people of God. When we gather together Jesus is with us. The Holy Spirit still empowers us to minister.
How long will we be without a facility? That is up to God. I am not giving up looking. This is where we are now—and we go this way in obedience of God. However, as one who has experience in house church I know we can be blessed while in this condition. Blessing comes to a congregation through being the Church, not through bricks, sticks, stones and mortar.
If being without a building undermines our dedication to each other, we would have to admit we were never an actual New Testament church. I don’t believe this is going to happen. I see this as an opportunity to get weaned off of love for place, and restore a fresh love for one another. Turn your gaze from the building and look for the presence of Christ among your fellow believers. God stopped occupying buildings when he came to live as a man (Christ) and then poured out his Holy Spirit on all flesh. People build and occupy buildings; God builds and occupies people.