“…Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” – John 2:19
Are church buildings an asset or a liability? Are they attracting our offspring or driving them away or a little bit of both?
What are dilapidated religious buildings telling us about God or who we think God is? Do we need places to pray now that we have the internet and podcasts? What might it mean about God if we adapted our buildings for multiple uses and prepared ourselves for new revelation by inhabiting our so-called holy habitations differently? What new revelations and micro-theologies will emerge once the buildings are altered? In what terms are our buildings assets or liabilities or both?
What if we gave free childcare and a candlelit meal every Friday night to beleaguered working parents of young children? What would that signal about who owns our buildings – us or the community we hope to serve?
What if weekdays our internet and copying machines were used by people doing startup businesses? People could work out of a chair in our Sunday School Rooms. They could also take coffee breaks with the church staff.
What if we had worship services for opioid users on occasions when the congregation wasn’t using the sanctuary? Or early morning sober dancing for people who can’t risk a bar anymore?
We do want our children to have a fluid temple in their lives. Hopefully the ways we use our buildings raise up our communities and children instead of destroying them.
Help us to imagine a new way that so loves the old ways that they survive and thrive. Amen.
Stillspeaking Small Group Discussion
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.