Years ago, our church family split apart, partly over disagreements and difficulties related to a new building in which we planned to meet. I became convinced that having a permanent physical space wasn’t really important for a church. The church was made of people, not bricks and mortar, after all. We can worship God anywhere, so who needs an actual building anyway?
I remained convinced of this perspective when my family joined a church that met in a high school. Worship happened in the auditorium, children’s ministry took place in the classrooms, and a team of volunteers moved bins of equipment and supplies in and out of the school every week. It became our normal, and what I believed continued to make the most sense.
You might think I’m getting ready to tell you that way of doing church is actually wrong, but I’m not. It still works; it still makes sense for our community. The Church is still, certainly, made up of people. And when we had to stop meeting in person last spring for safety concerns, my determination not to become dependent on a physical space served me well. Church online, broadcast to my television screen each Sunday morning? Awesome. Small groups and youth groups meeting via Zoom call? Fantastic. What a blessing technology has been to allow us to continue to gather even though we’ve been physically separated!
I say that sincerely. But as some parts of the world begin to open up for more in-person interactions, I’ve also realized that physical spaces do, in fact, matter a whole lot.
Whether it’s a church building, a coffee shop, or a loved one’s kitchen table, our places matter. Join me at (in)courage for the rest of this article about missing our places.