“Jesus Christ himself is the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord” Ephesians 2:20b,21
As I visit churches and share Central, the most common question I receive is either, Do you have land?” or “Do you have a building yet?” The hope that the mission has already progressed to that point is the sincere intent of the question.
I certainly think about the day that Central will have the benefit of a location and a building. Right now I pray daily for God to raise up a body much more than walls to a building. With every yard I mow, I visit with the Lord over all the matters we face. Most importantly I ask Him to call out and raise up the initial core membership.
In that first church that Jesus started, the one He began to call out to Himself on the shores of Galilee (Mark 1:16-20), Jesus started “building”. It wasn’t a worship center with two sections, an aisle, altar, pulpit, and a fellowship hall to the side. He was the cornerstone of that building! He built it through the structure of teaching the truth to open hearts (Mark1:21,22)! Its walls were made of men and women who were hungry to have the clear instruction of the Lord. Their united cause framed the first church that would impact the Kingdom for eternity!
The biblical concept of the church today is just as that first church. It is a body of people who have been summons by the Lord to come together for the teaching of the truth and for sharing the gospel of Christ. They are identified by their calling and creeds much more than they are by their location and land.
It is our purpose at Central to invest early on in a people, a body, a local church, much more than land or a location. I can’t wait to be involved in building the foundation, framing the walls, and utilizing the amenities of that people! More dollars will be invested in evangelism, discipleship and outreach at first than in the temporal.
I’ve seen the results of beginning poorly. Many times thousands of dollars are invested in land, buildings and all the needed furniture that goes into a building, only to be placed on the market for sale a little ways down the line. I can’t help but think, instead of sinking a quarter million into the initial place, why did they not sink the investment into a people! It started with a flawed mentality; “build it and they will come”.
The early church meet in so many places, there was no corner lot or erected building. They were a people that gathered wherever necessary. The “upper room”, house to house, in the temple, you name it, they met wherever it worked. Their passion was not seeing an architects’ drawings come to reality but rather fulfilling the churches actual purpose. We definitely can learn from that! Central can meet wherever it works best for now.
We want to focus on the right things first. If from the beginning we become more determined as a church to focus on the temporal things that are only symbolic of the church, my fear is that in the generation to come we will have set the precedent that our purpose is buildings and infrastructure more than reaching and discipling a people!
What I am saying is, you will hear about small groups, reaching people, SOAPing, discipleship tools and outreach more than you will about loans, land and location in the early goings. I don’t want Central laden with debt at the beginning, I want them lead by design! We want our people to know that they are the church, and that it’s the design of the Lord that the body of Christ is first built to be a “holy temple in the Lord” operating in the fabric of society!
Eventually the moment will come when the “chief cornerstone” says; “it’s time to build” on a physical location. Until then, it’s time to “toil” for a people, for the kingdom!
Time to Toil
Colossians 1: 28, 29