As much as I am saddened by the effects of this pandemic on the world I have to say I am excited to see people more vocal about the church not being a building. I guess this has been a pet peeve of mine for many many years. The rebel in me has been ranting to people for years about the church not being a building. I think I gave a 15 min speech to one of my doctors and fellow patients during a group therapy session while in a mental institution on this topic. It was rather animated speech although I was in a mental institution at the time so there was that but all the same. The church is the people. We are the church. Never has that been more evident then right now where the church is finding new ways to connect, gather electronically and teach through different media. It makes my heart leap inside. I guess we are being connected through electronic virtual means rather than a physical building. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit inside us that connects us despite our location.
I did not grow up going to a traditional church. I used to say the gymnastics gym I trained was my church because it was the only source of Christian fellowship, worship and teaching I had access. After graduating from high school I started attending church regularly. I attended regularly until several years ago. I went 3 years where I only went to the church building less than a handful of times. There were a number of reasons for this. But the short answer is going to church was causing me anxiety, panic attacks, was overall stressful and I was getting nothing positive out of the experience. I was exhausted and in prayer I felt like the lord reminded me that what was most important in this season was for me to rest in him. I had few days off from work so I took my sabbath at home. Although I did not attend the church building I would not say I was not a part of the body of Christ. For Jesus said…
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20
Through my 3 years of not attending church it made me do a lot of soul searching regarding the meaning of church, why we go to church and why we should attend. I had to do a lot of prayer and thinking about the topic. Why should I go to church when I have other means of fellowshipping, serving, worshiping, learning, etc? If I can listen to sermon online why go to a physical building? Of course right now we all have a mandate to stay home but what about when things are back to normal? Why should I go to the church building? Similarly going to a church building is not what saves us, Jesus is our means of salvation. As an introvert, contact with people is needed in small doses but it is overall draining. If I am only thinking about my own needs, quiet time at home is more beneficial and restful to me than attending church.
I have wrestled with these questions. I would say I am still wresting with these questions particularly right now when I am in a season of change and uncertainty. But for me I believe I need to go to church because it is a place I can serve the body of Christ. It is a place I can love the body of Christ. It is a place I can help others through there own journey with God. But mostly my gifting given by God will not be fully utilized to build God’s kingdom if I am not at church using the gift. I do not go to church for the music. I can do that at home. I do not go for the sermon. I can listen at home. I do not go for the prayer because I can text others to pray for me. I do not go to tithe because I can tithe online. But there is something that can only happen in person, the interaction and rubbing of each other to facilitate growth only occurs with in person contact. Similarly the gifts God has given us take us meeting together. Life is found with the body of Christ gathering together. So why do we need a building? The only reason I say we need a building is for shelter and physical needs. We need a place to meet and most people do not like going to the bathroom in the bushes.
We as God’s people are the church. The church is not a building. But God also designed us to gather together so that our different skills and gifts are used to build up the body of Christ. We do not need a building for this but it is nice to have shelter from the rain and a bathroom to use. We are the church and I pray God will gift my current church home it’s own building in God’s perfect timing. I went 3 years without attending church and I am glad to say that I WANT to attend again. I have not had a panic attacks or severe anxiety at church in awhile. So as much as I am excited to see people vocal about the church not being a building I look forward to the days we will all meet in person again.