Back in 2013 I wrote an article called “The Church has left the Building.” It was a year and half after I had started blogging and I hadn’t yet acquired an audience. Looking back at it, theologically there was nothing wrong with the article, but as I have aged, I have come to realize that the phrase, “The Church has left the Building” is more than I wrote about in 2013.
Back in 2013 I was concerned with the state of tithing in the church and that if the church doesn’t follow the God-given request to test Him in our tithes, then as the greater church we cannot do many of the ministries we need to do in order to be a thriving church.
FYI…for the 2019 year my buzzword is going to be “thrive.” That is going to be a post for a different day, but suffice to say you will read that word a lot over the next 12 months.
Now I realize it has taken me 5 and half years to write a follow up to the original post, but I want to share the wisdom that God has been teaching me over the past 5 years as to what the phrase “The Church has left the Building” means to me.
Too many people think the church is the building and the people that are in the building. I recently changed churches from Chesapeake Christian Fellowship to Friendship Community Baptist. One is non-denominational, single-elder led while the other is mainline Baptist and congregationally led. Very different polity.
But the same church.
Both churches are amazing in various different aspects of ministry. There are things that CCF is strong at that FCBC is not. There are areas that FCBC is strong that CCF is not.
How we “play church” on Sundays is different.
But the goal is the same.
Plunder hell and populate heaven.
The writer of Hebrews knows this well (I also wrote an article about who this writer could be back in 2012, but, again, that is for another day as I realize that many people will disagree with my view on that as well).
The writer of Hebrews says,
“For we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of the lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – 13:14-16
We have no lasting city.
When I started attending CCF back in 2002 I had no clue what Christianity was truly about. It was by the grace of God and His mercy alone that I came to find that faith. As time went on, I became comfortable at CCF, thinking that was my lasting city. I even wanted to eventually pastor there.
God had other plans.
He realized that I needed to become uncomfortable in order to continue growing.
I needed to leave the camp, so to speak.
Again, the writer of Hebrews explains this,
“For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.” – 13:11-12
The sacrificial offerings were burned up outside the camp. Jesus suffered and died outside the gate of the city.
In order for us to be used to our fullest for God, we need to go outside the gate of the city.
My city, for so long was CCF. And while I would occasionally go outside and talk to people (usually about how great my church was more than the power of the Holy Spirit), I maintained my comfort inside the building.
I couldn’t be burned up for the sacrifice when I grew comfortable.
God knew this. Honestly, I knew this. I just pushed against it for many years before truly acting upon it.
In order for me to grow, I needed to leave the walls of the city.
And my new church, Friendship Community Baptist, has been challenging yet good for my growth. I am learning how to work inside a different set of church polity. I am learning what it truly means to shepherd.
I am so thankful for my time at CCF. Without that time, I could not have grown from immaturity to maturity. But there comes a time in every believer’s life that he or she needs to step outside the walls of the city in order to be uncomfortable. The entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews is an example of that,
“…Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain…Enoch was taken up…Noah constructed an ark…Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out…Moses was hidden for three month…Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter…(Moses) left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king…The people crossed the Red Sea…” – 11:4-30 (abridged)
He continues, saying,
“…through faith (others) conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight” – 11:33-34
Every single one of those “by faith” comments in Hebrews 11 required going out.
The Church has Left the Building!!!
By no means am I telling people to leave their churches and go to a different church like I did. That was God’s vision for me and my family at this time in my life. That may not be the vision He has given you.
But you need to leave the comfort of the building and get out in your community. If you are not, by faith, stepping out and proclaiming the gospel to others and discipling others, you need to figure out what kind of faith you really have.
Did you simply accept Jesus to try and become a better person and get a “Get Out of Hell Free” card?
Or did you fall in love with the person of Jesus Christ and desire to serve Him. Are you worried less about looking like a Christian and more about looking like Christ? Are you following Christ by faith because you have desperation to know the person of Jesus Christ?
I want you to move beyond thinking you have a saving faith and move into knowing you have a saving faith.
That will lead the church to leave the building.
It will become a message that simply too big to contain inside the church building that you need to take it to communities, the streets, the cities, the shanty towns, the neighborhoods, and the workplaces.
Know your faith, Christian.
It is time to leave the building.