Sermon:  The House of God

(1 of 8 in "Rubber Meets the Road: A Sequel Your Kingdom Come")

Summary:  Church ownership of a building can be an asset or detriment depending on 
the church's view of it's building in relation to its missional call.  The church needs to shape 
and utilize the building to conform to God's mission rather than the other way around.

Know:  Even though the Bible is neither for or against church buildings, it is clearly for God's 
mission.  Any resources we created needs to serve that mission, including a building.

Feel:  An openness to look at our facility use critically

Do:  Reflect on how the facilities fit into God's mission, and how we are doing with utilization, 
configuring and maintenance of facilities in light of mission.

Text:  1 Pet 2:4-9

Scripture Reading:  1 Pet 2:5

1.  How many live in a house?  How many have a room
	a.  How many have made any sort of change to it?
		- Addition of furniture, painting, remodeling, additions
		- Rearrange things to work better
	b.  You have conformed your house to your use
	c.  A house is there to serve you, you don't serve it
2.  Title:  House of God
	a.  Many people think of a building, a structure
	b.  It used to be taken for granted, but more and more asking questions
		-  What place to church buildings have in the kingdom?
		- Are they scriptural or unscriptural?  I believe the are non-scriptural
		   Bible is neither for nor against them
	c.  In the beginning, there were no such things as buildings
3.  Going to do the following
	a.  Look at where church buildings came from
	b.  Look at how church buildings have shaped us
	c.  Look at how a church building should fit into our mission
	d.  Purpose - To be faithful in God's mission

I.  A brief history of buildings in the kingdom
	A.  In the Old Testament Period
		1.  Tabernacle - Built according to God's instruction
			a.  Different than other foreign structures which were bricks
			b.  God was mobile, on the move with his people
			c.  Created sacred space for God to dwell among his people
			d.  Worship focused in this one central place
		2.  The Temple
			a.  A permanent structure, filled with splendor
			b.  Same floor plan as tabernacle, same function
				- Place for God to dwell among his people
				- Focal point for meeting God in worship
			c.  Began with David's desire
				- David did not feel right living in a palace while God's 
				  house was a tent
				- David wanted to build a permanent sanctuary
				- God did not desire it, but permitted it
			d.  Destroyed twice
				- Babylonian Invasion in early 6th century B.C.
				- Roman Invasion in late 1st century A.D.
				- God's presence left due to wickedness
		3.  Synagogue - Arose probably during the exile
			a.  "Synagogue" means "congregation" or "assembly"
			b.  Not a temple, but more of a Jewish Cultural Center
			c.   School, community center, worship center, hub of life
			d.  Utilized every day
	B.  New Testament Period
		1.  Early Church
			a.  Met in various places:
				- Temple Courts
				- Synagogues
				- Homes, around a dining table
				- Adaptable to any place
			b.  Intimacy, Hospitality, and Participation
			c.  Not building centered, but every day centered
				- Church's identity not yet wrapped up in a building
		2.  Not a strong theology of sacred space in a building like in the 
		     Old Testament
		3.  Sacred space passages
			a.  Image of the tabernacle
				-  John 1:14 - Jesus "tabernacled" among us
				-  2 Cor 5:1-9 - Our bodies are a tent, & temporary
			b.  Image of a temple
				- 1 Cor 3:16-17 - We are a temple of God, emphasis 
				   is on God, not on teachers
				- 1 Pet 2:4-5 - We are living stones in God's house, 
				   emphasis is on the building of people
				- 1 Cor 6:19-20 - We individually are temples of the 
				   Holy Spirit, emphasis is on holiness
			c.  House Image
				- 1 Tim 3:15 - We are called the "household of God."  
				-  Families usually live in houses, but brick and mortar 
				   does not make a family
		4.  Building metaphors from the Old Testament are reappropriated
			a. They refer to the people as God's house, not a structure
			b.  We the people are God's sacred space
	C.  After the New Testament Period:  Basilicas and Cathedrals
		1.  Began with Constantine's building projects in the 4th century
			a.  Like other emperors who demonstrated piety in their 
			     religion by engaging in building
			b.  Rejected the pagan temples as models
			c.  Modeled after the Roman Basilica (Note: Greek "basilikos 
			     and basilea - kingdom words) - Imperial building
		2.  Roman Basilicae a center for official public government activity 
			a.  Law courts, financial centers, army drill halls, reception 
			      rooms, etc.
			b.  Had a main hall with colonnaded aisles along the sides
			c.  A semi circular pop out on the end called the "apse"
				- Usually a raised platform with a throne where the 
				   magistrate dispensed laws and legal decisions 
		3.  Constantine fused the Church with the Basilica
			a.  Church and government eventually went hand in hand
			b.  Eventually had Cathedrals
				- "Cathedra" refers to the bishop's seat
				- Altar in the Apse, and bishops seat close to it
			c.  Church architecture followed this for centuries
			d.  Still see the imprint of it today
		4.  Reformation and Enlightement brought some changes
			a.  Pulpit rather than the altar and bishops seat prominent
			b.  Reflects emphasis on teaching and learning
			c.  Much more simple, less ornate
			d.  We still have that in our church buildings today
	D.  What is the purpose of this whirlwind tour of history?
		1.  To show our current set up shaped by historical and cultural 
		2.  ***But even more so, it has shaped us too…

II.  The church building has shaped the church
	A.  Winston Churchill:  First we shape our buildings, then they shape us
	B.  Look at a few of the changes that came about
		1.  Domestic nature of the church diminished
			a. No longer sat at the table, but look at it in elevated place
			b.  Table transformed into an altar
			c.  While mystery was emphasized, intimacy, hospitality,
			     sharing, and participation took a back seat
			d.  Christian identity became wrapped up in an institution
		2.  Concept of Evangelism changed
			a.  Sense of completion came about when building was built
			b.  Church came to see area as a mission area if there was 
			     no building with hierarchy 
			c.  Kingdom became equated with an institution
		3.  After Reformation and Enlightenment
			a.  The addition of the pulpit, teaching became prominent
			b.  Churches became lecture halls
		4.  This has had a profound effect up till the present
			a.  Robert Webber believes that the construction and shape 
			     of worship space shapes our theology in a profound way
			b.  History has demonstrated this
	C.  Look at congregational histories
		1.  Can find them in books, web sites, etc.
		2.  Most of them spend a lot of focus on the history of the building
			a.  Says when the cornerstone was laid
			b.  When additions were made, or a new building
		3.  Shows that large part of their identity wrapped up in a building
		4.  Even today, we still think of church as a "place"
	D.  Compare this to the church in scripture
		1.  No buildings or structures
		2.  Identity came from who they served and what they did
		3.  Imagine if church histories looked more at challenges, 
		     ministries, and people who were changed as we see in scripture
		4.  What are we to do?….
			a.  Some advocate jettisoning buildings and property
			b.  I don't think that is necessary or desirable
			c.  These are not good or bad, they are resources….

III.  Facilities can be an asset or detriment to a church
	A.  Facilities, because I am now talking about more than the building
		1.  We own not just a building, but several acres of land
		2.  We own equipment inside the building as well
	B.  How can we ensure they are an asset and not a detriment?
		1.  Start with the mission
			a.  A Christ Centered Family, Learning, Sharing and Caring
			b.  Not to build a building
				- No Biblical instructions say to build church buildings
				- Passages we saw spoke of building people
				- It is about God's mission, which is about people
		2.  Order our resources according to mission
			a.  Some new churches go years without owning a building
				- There are churches that grew to over 300 people 
				   that still do not build a building
				- Reason - Would take too many resources away from 
				    their mission - Ordered according to mission
			b.  Rick Warren - To many churches building too soon and 
			     too small
				- Too soon - Majority of financial resources swallowed 
				  up by building, can't carry out mission effectively
				- Too small - No room to grow, limited.  Take too 
				   much resource to remodel, reshape, etc.
			c.  A couple of examples:
				- Church in Greenfield - Too small too soon
					- No room to grow
					- If grow, not have resources to expand, too 
					- Can't move to another location easily
					- Majority of resources go to upkeep building
				- New Church of Christ in Lincoln - Met in school
					- When grow, can move to new location
					- Little overhead cost of building
					- Identity more in ministry than building
					- Eventually will build a building to serve them
		3.  Be proactionary, not merely reactionary
			a.  Don't fall into maintenance mode with resources
				- Don’t' get me wrong, maintenance needs to be done 
				  and it needs to be done well
				- Just keeping things serviceable it inadequate
					- Evaluate usefulness in terms of mission
					- Shape resources in terms of mission
			b.  There is something wrong when missions, evangelism, 
			     outreach get cut for a building expense
				- Aren't these what the church exists for?
				- Does the building serve us, or do we serve it?
			c.  Does the building serve us, or does it need our service?
			d.  Like our houses, we need to shape our facilities and 
			     resources to serve us - or to serve God's purposes
				-  The building is not the house of God, we are
				-  The building, grounds, equipment are all in the 
				    same category - resources for mission
		4.  2 Cor 12:15 - Paul said I will most gladly spend and be 
		     expended for your souls 
			a.  Spared no expense for mission
			b.  The same should be true of our facilities
			c.  Needs not just to be "protected" but utilized to the 
			     maximum effectiveness
	C.  Examples of how to utilize for missions
		1.  Community seminars - parents, marriages, money management
		2.  Support Groups, After School Programs, Day Cares, 
		3.  As a "third place?"
			a.  Sociologists - We have three places, home, work, play
			b.  3rd place is informal, relax, have fun, hang out, friends
			c.  eg:  Coffee shop, health clubs, bars, sport team, fraternal 
			     organizations, etc.
			d.  Americans long for a third place
		4.  Church can capitalize on this
			a.  Can go to third places or provide one
				- Where you connect with people
			b.  That is what Family Life Centers were about
			c.  Architects now say growing number of churches are 
			     building coffee shops
			d.  Facility can be a community hub, a third place - This is 
	D.  We need to evaluate how we are utilizing our facilities for mission
		1.  Good to ask ourselves some questions:
			How does our building relate to our mission?
			In what ways is the building a detriment to our mission?
			In what ways is the building an asset to our mission?
			How can we better utilize our building?  
			What might we need to change structurally?  
			What might we need to add?
			What needs to be maintained or improved upon in our building 
				to meet our mission?
			What are some things in the regular maintenance and needs of 
				our building that need to be improved upon?
		2.  Don't be afraid of where the answers will lead
			a.  We are devoted to God's mission
			b.  We are willing to shape and utilize our resources for 

1.  Jesus is in the business of building people, not buildings (invitation)
2.  The building and the rest of our facilities are resources in which to build people
3.  Occurred to me that perhaps this would have been good at the end
	a.  Configuration, utilization, and maintenance of facilities connected to 
	     many of our other activities we will be covering in weeks ahead
	b.  So we will be touching on facilities all throughout this series
4.  Overall, we need to see this "place" as a missionary outpost, not as a fortress


Process Guidelines

During the summer season, beginning Sunday evening June 10th, the congregation 
will assemble at the building.  During this gathering we will outline our plan for the Summer.  
This first meeting is an introductory overview.

For the remaining eight weeks we will follow a pattern that works as follows:

Sunday Morning Sermon:  Introduce the topic for the week.

Sunday Evening:  Life Groups meet at the building but in separate rooms: 			
Discuss the topic for the evening
Develop ideas, recommendations and proposals
Tie them to scripture and align them with our goals and objectives.
Guidelines for Life Group discussion as it relates to the Topic 
	1.  What’s the purpose of…(Topic of the week)?
	2.  How should we accomplish this purpose?
	3.  What should we…
		a.  Keep doing?
		b.  Start doing that’s different?
		c.  Stop doing? 

Wednesday Evening:  Congregation meets to:
Hear each Life Group present the ideas, recommendations and proposals they developed 
the previous Sunday evening.
Thoughts will be organized and presented in the form of these questions:
	1.  What did we learn?
	2.  What surprised us?
	3.  What is Important?
	4.  What should we do?

Sunday Morning Bible Study Hour:  Congregation Meets to…
	Process the Topic for the previous week 
	Discussion Centered on three questions:
	1.  What happened?
	2.  What does it mean?
	3.  What will we do with it?