What if the building we hold our church services in is sending a message to the world about the God we serve?

Guess what? It is.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

And it goes two ways. The buildings we call church are sending good messages and bad messages about the God we serve and represent.

You may not think it is a big deal, but when you are the ambassador to the LORD Most High, how He is represented is a very big deal. Especially when we are called His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and the best way that people will know that He exists is by how we act (John 13:35).

That would include what our buildings look like. Whether we build them from the ground up or we bought them used or are renting a space, it says something about our God.

So let us start with those church buildings that we have built.

Photo: Munish Chandel
Photo: Munish Chandel

Exhibit A

There are breath taking and beautiful buildings of worship. Maybe not all from the same denomination of Christianity, but all wonderful looking churches.

What do churches like this say about God?

On the bad side, churches such as these make God out to be a selfish, money grubbing man in the sky.

Now that may sound drastic and I don’t mean to offend you, but some people honestly believe that about God. And sadly,they solely believe that based on the way that their church looks.

Is that right or fair? No, but it is a reality for some.

Buildings such as these cost millions of dollars, thousands of man hours to construct and just as much money and man hours to furnish and upkeep.

To the outsider, it says this;

“God is all about the money. If you don’t have any, you have no place here. God is for the rich, not the poor. If you can’t meet the acceptable social norms, then you do not belong in this building. And you most certainly do not belong to God.”

When I think about building a church, when you look at your place of worship, do people see that? Do they think that way about your God because of how the building looks?

Maybe, even though that probably isn’t your intention.

When I look at buildings such as these, knowing that God is not selfish or a money grubbing old man, I see something much different. Not the bad thing that the world may see, but a good thing.

Churches that are build with such grandeur, with vaulted ceilings, with steeples that stretch to the heavens, they are not making statements about God and his opinion of money, but about how great and beautiful our God is.

When King Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem the amount of gold used in it could probably bring the USA out of national debt. It was built with gold and silver, not to show up all the poor people. Rather it was built to display the majesty of the God they worshiped.

Gold was in the thread on the curtains. Gold was on the walls. Everything crafted, from the pillars to the small instruments they used to hold bread and light candles, was done with the utmost care and artistic consideration that you would know and see the excellence of the God who dwelt in this Temple.

Every detail was there, first because God commanded it, but secondly it was there to instill a sense of awe and wonder.

This building or that church were designed and built to create a sense of wonder in those worshipers, not in the building but in the God of the building.

The question is, do people understand that? Do people think that way?

Do we build and structure our churches in such a way to magnify our God or to show how prosperous and financially endowed we are?

Because how we build our houses of worship, even how we talk about them displays for people the kind of God we serve. Either a selfish money grubbing God, or an awe inspiring, breathtaking God.

(For more examples of synagogues or churches, strange and beautiful, click the link.)

Photo: Julie K3
Photo: Julie K3

Exhibit B

On the other side of the monstrous and majestic churches that are built are the little churches.

These are not great skyscrapers, not lofty mansions made for worship, rather they are shacks in the hills.

Some churches look like they just stepped out of the Wild West, they belong to the era of the cowboys and panhandlers, women with big flowing dresses and men with a few days growth and a hand rolled cigarette.

They are churches that are rundown, that are showing their age. The paint is starting to peel. The roof is starting to cave in.

Others are not the traditional church building at all. Some people gather in old theaters, coffee shops or in hotels. The outside still looks the same as it did before it was re-purposed but now a cross or a nicely printed sign hangs outside.

What does a church like this say about who God is?

For some people, an older church building or a nontraditional location could say this about God.

God is a slob. Someone that really doesn’t care about the presentation, doesn’t care about the outside. Because if He really did, He would do something about the peeling paint or the caving in roof.

For others, it isn’t that God is a slob, but He is really homely. By homely, they would mean that God is a person that is comfortable coming out to buy eggs and milk in his pajamas. He is totally okay to just go with whatever happens. A “Let It Be” vibe would radiate from Him, or “Whatever happens, happens.”

Is that really who our God is? Is that the message that we want to be sharing about who He is? That God is super laid back and really doesn’t care about what is happening on the physical side of life?

Sadly, there are those people out there that will believe that. Even though that isn’t what these more homely churches are actually presenting.

Co-pastoring in a church that is renting a room that is in a hotel nothing about what we do or say portrays God as homely or uninterested. Quite the opposite actually. God is very interested in what is happening in people’s lives.

Our church were it is conveys the message that God is coming to where you are. If you happen to find yourself in a bar on a Sunday morning, guess what? God is there and He is calling out to you. God is always seeking you out.

Those churches in the small towns, that look a little worse for wear maybe could use a face lift, but speak a very important truth about who God is.

God is here for the poor and the broken down. Those that do not have the financial deep pockets of those that go to the skyscraper churches can still come and worship the same God, because God is not a selfish money grubber. But rather He is loving and accepts us where ever we are. Wherever we are financially and physically. Whatever we look like, wherever we may be in our lives.

Question: What does your church building say to you, or to those outside the church?

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