Did you grow up going to church regularly? Me too. If you didn’t, don’t worry. This story is still for you.
I loved church. Something about each aspect drew me in. Senior Adult lunch on Wednesdays with my grandmother? Count me in. Sunday school, where I turned an old-fashioned clothespin into a Nutcracker Christmas ornament? I was there. Week-long summer programs, where I had no friends but could make a friendship bracelet? Yes, please! In fact, when I see older church buildings, I sometimes daydream about going through their closets and classrooms to see what nostalgic treasures have been forgotten. It’s weird, I know. But I have always held a special place in my heart for a church building.
I work in children’s ministry now, and we call it KidsMin. It seems fitting and hilarious that I get paid to wake up on Sundays and go to my favorite place. Well played, God! As fun as KidsMin is, it is challenging to make sure that all the exciting things we plan actually supplement teaching your children how to take their faith outside of the church and use it in their real lives. So we have this saying at the Sunnyvale campus, it goes like this: I say, “What is the church?” and the kids say, “Sometimes the building, always the people.” We make this distinction because sometimes we want the kids to know that the church can be a church building where we gather, worship, and dress like our favorite superheroes. What’s more important than that, though, is for them to know that Jesus has a plan to impact the world through people, and those people are called the church.
We see it in Matthew, when Jesus says:
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
— Matthew 16:18
Just to be clear, Peter is not buried under any of our campuses. Jesus is not talking about church buildings. He is preparing Peter for the work he would do of telling people the story of Jesus, and of the growing number of believers being sent out into the world to do the same. This is the church.
Have you heard the story of Jesus? Have you chosen to believe that Jesus is God? You are the church Jesus was referring to. He planned it this way, for you to be a part of this life-changing, world-shaping movement. Loving the church building is great. It’s been a really fun hobby for me, but it means nothing if I stay inside its walls, if we only sit in its seats, eat our donuts and leave. Now is the time when the people around you need you to be moving (with your mask and appropriate distance of course), showing them what you know to be true about Jesus. When we go out, when we share, when we shine light and love, Jesus says not even the gates of hell can stop us.
Check out these words Paul wrote to the church in Rome:
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
— Romans 8:31–34
God is for us. He has chosen for this. Jesus died and has given us his life for this, and is right now praying for us as we are being the church. What are we waiting for? Let’s go, get up, and be the church. Then let’s all meet up on Sunday at the building and celebrate the work that God is doing through us.