We have developed a tendency to think of the church as a corporation. I have blogged about several aspects of this already (click here, here, here, or here to view these posts). In this post I want to consider church buildings.

If you want to find Best Buy, Costco, or Target, you need an address (even if that address is a url). If you want to find the church, what do you need? An address? Based on the language we use, the answer would be yes.

“Are you going to church this morning?”

“Where do you go to church?”

“I’ll meet you for lunch after church.”

These are all common phrases that reveal a significant assumption: the church is a building. (You could also argue that we think of church as a service, but even so, we typically identify that service with a building. Plus the fact that we can “stop by church” on a random weekday suggests that the building is our focus.)

The church is a place we attend, a storefront we visit.

Or is it? The biblical concept is that the church is the community of the redeemed. The church is people. We are the church.

Does it really matter that we refer to a building as the church? Absolutely. If we think of church as a building, we are limiting its function to those things that a building can do. A building can host a service, it can serve as a convenient gathering place, it can be an easily identifiable landmark.

But a building can’t heal. A building can’t actively demonstrate love, forgiveness, or selfless sacrifice. A building can’t leave its foundation to pursue those who need truth, companionship, and hope. But we can do those things. If we are the church—if the church consists of a vital community that is being shaped and transformed by the Spirit of God—then the church is virtually limitless. The church can go anywhere and do anything in the name and power of Jesus Christ.

The church is not a place of business. It’s not a place at all. The church is us; we are the church.

Are church buildings bad things? Well, they can sometimes give us the wrong impression about what the church is, but church buildings are not bad or wrong in themselves. Churches around the world throughout history have found buildings to be a helpful means of accomplishing their God-given mission. But we can never forget that a building can never be or do what the church is called to be and do. The gospel will never be accurately represented on Google Maps.

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Mark Beuving
Mark Beuving currently serves as Associate Pastor at Creekside Church in Rocklin, CA. Prior to going back into pastoral ministry, Mark spent ten years on staff at Eternity Bible College as a Campus Pastor, Dean of Students, and then Associate Professor. Mark now teaches online adjunct for Eternity. He is passionate about building up the body of Christ, training future leaders for the Church, and writing. Though he is interested in many areas of theology and philosophy, Mark is most fascinated with practical theology and exploring the many ways in which the Bible can speak to and transform our world. He is the author of "Resonate: Enjoying God's Gift of Music" and the co-author with Francis Chan of "Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples." Mark lives in Rocklin with his wife and two daughters.