By Delvin R. Sweeney
A New Church
After many years of meeting in the basement of a home, we were finally able to build our own “church.” As the walls of concrete block were erected, I was reminded of the tabernacle with its sidewalls and open roof.
The construction was done by workers who were not a part of the church. They were typical construction workers, some with worldly habits. But a funny thing happened as they worked, cigarettes in hand. Some of the workers themselves decided once the roof was on, it was a church building, and that no smoking would take place “inside the church.” All the workers honored that request. They respected the building for its intended use.
The Thomases, Whitsets, and Rusks were not just building a church building, but a church that was to outlive most of them.
The Real Church
As the church grew there was a second building program and later a third. The church does not grow by building programs, and the church is of course more than buildings. The people of God are the church. As the children of Israel needed the tabernacle to represent God’s presence, so we seem to need buildings to identify us as a congregation. We also need reminders that the church is more than buildings and programs.
If the church is to grow, it must actively be the body of Christ. It has been interesting to see some of our newly planted churches meeting, ministering, and growing without their own church buildings. First John 4:17 says, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world” (New King James Version). The only Jesus seen by the people you work with, attend school with, or even live with, may be the one they see living in you.
Delvin R. (Dee) Sweeney is the senior minister at Milltown Christian Church in Milltown, Indiana. He and his wife, Cynthia, have three adult sons in the ministry and a daughter studying missions at Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee.