“Building The Church and a Church Building” – Pastor Dalon Chin – 2011-01-23

“Building The Church and a Church Building” – Pastor Dalon Chin – 2011-01-23

When I was a young kid, there was a little rhyme I would do for the amusement of my relatives, friends, and frankly, for my own amusement.  It was a rhyme that was performed with my hands clasped together, working through a series of motions as I recited each verse.  I’m sure many of you are familiar with it.

Here’s the church…here’s the steeple…open the door…and here’s all the people!

It’s still a fun thing to do…a real ‘hit’ with toddlers!…but it’s not the most theologically accurate depiction.  For that, this version might be better:

Here’s the building…here’s the steeple…open the door…and here’s the church that is the people! A few more syllables, but it still rhymes!

The word, “church,” comes from the New Testament’s “ekklesia,” literally translated, “called-out ones.”  So “church” is really about the people.  Ever since we embarked on this journey of getting a new church facility, it’s been said more than a few times that more important than God preparing the building is God preparing us as His people.  I don’t think this point can be over-emphasized.  If I may, I would like to take a little space here to explain why I think that is important.

At any given time, no matter what we’re doing, we should be in the process of honoring God in our lives (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17).  What kind of people are we, as we undertake the building project?

At one of our recent fellowship studies, the question was posed, “What kind of legacy do you want to leave?”  We’ve been asked this question in various forms before.  The first thing that came to my mind was that I wanted to be known for loving and serving God.  It sounded like a fairly spiritual answer, but it felt incomplete.  I think God took me a step beyond that.  If I was simply known as someone who followed God, then my own unbelieving parents could simply remember me as a person who was serious about his religion.  What I concluded was that I could not outthink God’s plan for me, so it is difficult to say that I want to do this or that.  The legacy I really do want to leave is the legacy He wants for me.  He is to decide how He should manifest Himself in me.  What I really want is for them to see God.

1 Thessalonians 1:4–10 (ESV):  “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.  And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.

For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.  For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

The church at Thessalonica did not simply see the faith of Paul and his associates. They saw God’s power and presence.   They didn’t just imitate spiritual people.  They turned from idols to serve a living and true God.  It was Paul’s very desire for “Christ to be exalted in his body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20).

Preparing for a new stage or a major change in life will have us naturally think about the necessary things we feel we need to do to be ready.  The building project will have us think through the logistics of merging two campuses, new policies, new ministries, beefing up our ushering teams, and so forth.  The point that I’d like to make is that a big part of what we will be doing because of this new facility is what we should already be doing in the present.

I have a friend who was a pastor at a church that went through a building project.  He confirmed what I thought.  A building project could sap so much of our time, energy and resources.  However that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  If, for this season, God has given the building project for us to work on, and naturally there would be much to do for it, we shouldn’t feel badly about it.   Who is to say that the things we do to get the facility ready, which is a tool that God is giving us for ministry, is less sanctified than other types of ministry?  All comes from God.  All can be done for God’s glory.  I think the key is that we must continue to be the people of God everywhere and at all times.  If we are all in unity following Him and submitting to Him with a pure heart, He will continue to keep our eyes on what He wants us to.  He’ll lead us into authentic worship, reaching the lost with the Gospel, loving each other, and caring for the poor and downtrodden.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus will prevent us from doing things out of pride, our own preferences, and selfish desires and to focus on the essentials of what God wants us to be and do.  Believe me, having a “youth room” at the new site would be great.  I’ve wanted to see us dedicate more resources to youth ministry, including a physical space where they could congregate and encourage each other.  But having a big youth room alone isn’t going translate to effectively reaching kids for Christ and nurturing them.  I would take a culture of parents and the greater church family that meaningfully talks to our youth and their unsaved friends OVER a youth room, ANYDAY!

I am imagining what it would be like when the new facility will be ready for use.  I’m trying to imagine this not as a pastor of this church, but as a visitor.  Whether I was visiting as a believer who was looking for a church home, a believer who attended another church in the city, or an unbeliever, there is one thing of which I’m pretty sure —- I would be very curious to see the beautiful new building that I’ve heard about.  I’m guessing that there will be many new people who come with this same curiosity.  There’s going to be a buzz about “CBC’s new place.”  But I ask, what happens after the excitement and energy of a grand opening?  What will really make the church grow?  A beautiful building, or a great sound system?  This may shock you, but I’d say it’s not even great preaching.  At least not preaching alone.  It’s going to be the people.  More precisely, it’s going to be God showing Himself in His people.

In his recent book, “The Church Awakening,” Pastor Charles Swindoll wrote, “I have lived to realize that, while a strong pulpit is essential, a contagious church also requires a context of other distinctives.  There must be more than preaching.  More than one gift at work.  More than the conviction of one person.  A contagious church has a number of individuals living out clear, biblical principles with the result that people…realize this is a place worth their coming and participating.”

How are we going to be blessing to the 4S community?  Would we be doing as much if we did not need to get our new neighbors to like us?  How are we a blessing now to the people around us and to those in places yet unreached?  How much do we truly work together as different language groups?  How much are we investing in the next generation and the leaders of tomorrow?  How are we walking with God today?

The building project did not start three years ago.  It started when God created us.