Buildings Don’t Reach People

I’d like to burn this phrase into every Christian’s hand:
“Buildings don’t reach people, people do.” So said Ed Stetzer.

I can give you a list of people who think otherwise. And missionary recruiters who say location is everything and the pattern is McDonald’s.

It’s amazing the church in the first century managed to do anything without buildings.

We might just want to try it the way they did then sometime.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

5 thoughts on “Buildings Don’t Reach People

  1. AGREE – Buildings don’t reach people, but they CAN turn them off.

    What reaches people is the Word in the hands of a genuine Christian.

    I am pretty much one to believe Christians have several tools… one they use to HELP PEOPLE , one they use to TEACH THE GOSPEL, one they use to EXEMPLIFY CHRIST, one they use just to BE GOOD. And I sort of think the tools usually should be used in that above order.

    Sylvia and I will be in Hamilton Alabama learning better how to ‘be good’ May 1 – 3.

    Don Petty

  2. I don’t know how it happened but when I added my comment this came up…I guess it was my original aborted attempt to submit a comment came back to taunt me.

    At any rate, never one to pass up a mike or a pulpit, I will write again.

    The church leaders have got to get across to our people the message: we must define and exercise MORAL JUDGEMENT.

    We have lost our sense in many cases of what is indeed right and what is indeed wrong.

    Definitions are in order….Don Petty

  3. This is my first time for this kind of thing so be gentle. I’d like to expand on Don’s comment. I am in complete agreement that buildings do not reach people, but we do have to deal with those first impressions. I do think building can repel or draw people in.
    If our building is repelling people due to the roof leaking, paint peeling, and potholes in the parking lot that a tank could fall in, then perhaps the message we are conveying to them is we don’t care.
    If we have built our version of the Crystal Cathedral and we are attracting hundreds even thousands of people we must pose the question why are they here? Have we wasted our money on an expensive gaudy building that promotes the secular and worldly ideas that prompted us to build such a structure in the first place?
    Back to first impressions. Like it or not the nature of the meeting place is one of those first impressions to the non-Christian who is not basing his life or decisions on Christian ideals. I personally don’t care if we even have our own building. But wherever we meet be it in our homes or a separate building we need to show people we care enough to make them reasonably comfortable. It is one of the ways we extend Christian hospitality. Hospitality is one of the big ideas in scripture that has gone the way of the Edsel in our culture. Few people in the U.S. practice it.
    A proper environment is helpful. At least one that is not distracting in a way that interferes with our goal. Having said all that, here’s the bottom line. No building ever saved anyone. It is the message of Jesus communicated by loving Christians.

  4. Brother Matheny,

    You are right about buildings. Brother Petty is also right about how they can turn people off as well. But given the American culture, at least, the building is important. I doubt the building carries with it the same kind of significance where you are in your mission work, as here in the states.

    It is unfortunate, but true, that the building gives the world who is searching, a semblance of stability and legitimacy to a local congregation. This is especially the case where I live here in Texas, where we are an affluent Dallas suburb. It is equally as unfortunate that a dilapidated, uncared for building, is just as much a distraction, if not more, than even having a building to call home.

    It is a horrible situation to be in, because the temptation is to build it, in hopes the people will come. We hardly do this very well either, so I wish we would simply just get back to our roots through effectually working in the lives of people and advancing the gospel through discipleship.

    Just my humble and feeble thoughts.

  5. Well, the Missionary Workshop and Retreat at Maywood Christian Camp in Hamilton, Alabama, May 1 – 3, 2008, is complete…and it was a good one! Lord willilng, this second such event has ensured a third one next Spring, 2009. Already the directors and planners are asking for ideas for the third one.
    One of the main reasons for this workshop is to increase evangelism around the world. The lectures are designed to inspire thought to encourage and expand the primary directive of the church, to reach the lost.
    I proposed at this workshop that we consider the point of view of the elders in a local congregation, and what they have to do as overseers. They do not only oversee mission efforts; but they oversee the total function of the locaL congregation.
    Therefore, we must see how we can ‘fit in’ to the the work of that specific congregation, and work WITH the elders to help them keep a ‘balance’ in the church of every good work. When we can do that we can get the word spread better and become an acceptable part of that work with the elders where we are seeking to attain oversight or support or sponsorship.
    Elders are not enemies of mission work and missionaries; rather, they would enjoy working with missionaries to carry out the preaching all over the world. Sometime we as missionaries are not quite fair about our requests and appeals. We think we must assume priority one in every budget, when in reality most elders have to adjust budgeting to include missions because they just about have their hands full taking care of their local and community outreach needs.
    Let’s be more understanding of the task of the elders, and work to listen more to what they have to say. I would enjoy hearing the view of the elders and their need from missionaries at the next Missionary Retreat and Workshop at Maywood. May we all work together to reach the lost. Don Petty

What do you think?