What Should The Church Look Like?

What is your image of church? Would you claim that you know what God wants the church to look like? However, it can be hard to separate what we want church to be, from what God wants the church to be.

Our preferences on worship, preaching, architecture, decor, including the colour of the carpet, curtains or even the softness of the sTemple of herodeating; can all cause heated debates, divisions in the church and even cause people to leave fellowships for other places more in keeping with “what (they feel) God wants.”

Discovering What God Wants

How does the bible help us answer what God wants for his church building? In simplistic terms the Old Testament, presents an answer in terms of the building of the Ark of the Covenant, and subsequently Solomon’s and then Herod’s designs of the Temple of the Lord.

What were their answers to the question of what God wants? All very beautiful and ornate, these are buildings that communicate to a people who were generally illiterate, something of the majesty and greatness of God.

“Come, all of you who are gifted craftsmen. Construct everything that the Lord has commanded: the Tabernacle and its sacred tent, its covering, clasps, frames, crossbars, posts, and bases;the Ark and its carrying poles; the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement; the inner curtain to shield the Ark;the table, its carrying poles, and all its utensils; the Bread of the Presence; for light, the lampstand, its accessories, the lamp cups, and the olive oil for lighting;…” Exodus 35:10-14

Today we find that cathedrals and basilicas in similar ways communicate that same greatness and majesty of God and are vast landmarks on our landscape both physically and spiritually in what they communicate about the Lord.

What Should We Build?

However is a building the whole picture?  Of course it isn’t, and we see that refocusing in the New Testament story, the need of a different kind of building, indeed Jesus speaks of tearing down the physical temple. Jesus instead focuses on us building of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that is both seen in the world and also not yet, in terms of the eternity to come.

If we sit within the stories of the kingdom of God, such as the wedding feast, the lost son, lost sheep, hidden treasure, good samaritan, we might answer what God wants differently.

I believe that ultimately the church in its structures, whether architecturally, devotionally or evangelistically, should be a gateway to God’s kingdom, a kingdom that is welcoming, challenging, spiritually nurturing and in practical ways lives out its faith in Jesus wherever it finds itself.

We live in a world of complexity and church is complex with its traditions and expectations. The colour and decor matter yes, but not nearly as much as being the reflection of Christ to all, the worship style matters in the way it draws people into God, but not more than walking alongside people and inviting them to begin a journey with you in faith. Pretty posters matter but not more than loving people where they are, and however they are.

What does your church look like to you, are you caught up with what matters, or do you need to lay some things at the feet of Jesus. Recognising that sometimes what God wants is sometimes different to our perceptions.

Let us each this week consider what God might want, recognising our own desires and wants and putting them to one side, and being gracious with one another because, myself included, we all fall short on this one.

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