The Problem of Church Buildings and Evangelism (The RADIUS Initiative Applied, Part 6)
(This is part 6 of a series of posts that draw applications from my novella, The RADIUS Initiative. It’s a Jack Bauer-style, action-packed book! You can purchase the book here for only $7.99.)
No. I’m not against church buildings! But I’d like to express an observation you might find intriguing. An observation of the effects church facilities may have had on the effort to evangelize.
The Roman Emperor, Constantine, reigned from AD 306-337. Before his reign, Christians were persecuted for their faith, but in 313, Constantine and Licinius (who ruled the Eastern parts of the Roman Empire) signed an edict to legalize Christianity. In order to advertise his reign by showing his support of Christianity, Constantine ordered the construction of basilicas throughout the region. This ushered in the era of specially built facilities for local churches to meet and worship.
Before this time, if anyone were to refer to a building as a church, he would have been greatly misunderstood. The Church was and is a people. Church-related activities were much more public than they are today. It seems now most church-related activities are conducted inside the building. Ministry revolves around the facility. From children’s ministries to adult Bible teaching, everything seems to be accomplished inside the specially built facilities. Of course, these buildings are great resources for ministry. I’m not negating that fact.
Yet when the ministry of evangelism is centered on the building, there arises a problem. Plenty of dollars and man hours are spent trying to invite the public to events at the facility in order to share the gospel. Outreach, in many cases, is really a list of strategies to bring more people into the building. To God be the glory, many have trusted in Christ alone due to these events! But could there be another way to evangelize the world? One that is much more productive?
The measure of success in the book of Acts was the number of people the Lord added to the Church through salvation. Sadly, many times the measure of success today is the number of people the strategy adds inside the building at an event. In other words, the Church (and virtually every aspect of it) is centered on the local building. Remember the last words Jesus left His disciples? To “Go and make disciples.”
Evangelism done outside the camp–out in the public world–by 100 church members has greater potential for the spreading of the gospel than the idea of leaving it up to 1 man done at the church building on a single occasion.
Imagine 1,000 church members properly trained!
I am not against a church having buildings. I worship in one. The necessity is definitely there. But can you imagine what could happen in your community if just 1/3 of your church members were trained to share the gospel clearly and effectively?
Do you believe the Lord still wants to add to His Church?
A local church is not what is should be unless there is a continual influx of new believers.
Yes! This can happen. And it must.