The Lord’s house deserves the best!

The Lord’s house deserves the best!

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Seeing an opportunity, one particularly brave congregation member put forward the idea of a digital piano, a much cheaper option that would free up more money for ministry and mission work. This was quickly shot down by a series of comments by members who felt strongly that the organ was the only right traditional instrument that should be used in the church.

Leaving aside the worship wars issue of which instruments, if any, should be used in corporate worship to one side for now, it was the next speaker that I remember so clearly many years later. One well-respected man stood up and spoke in favour of the new organ, despite the price, for the reason that “the Lord’s house deserves the best”. This was met with broad agreement and not long afterwards the vote to purchase a new organ passed overwhelmingly with over 90% of those present voting for it.

It sounds holy and well-meaning, but it is terrible theology. Even as a young adult, I left that meeting feeling down and never attended another congregational meeting at that church, resigning my membership sometime later over this and many other issues.

What is wrong with getting the best for the Lord’s house? The problem is that the church building is not the Lord’s house. It is not the place God chooses his name to dwell like the Old Testament temple was. Our church buildings are useful, but they are just buildings. If we spend all our resources on making our building some magnificent cathedral, we are not focussing on the right things. Our resources should be targeted on what helps us to make disciples, which will always be pastoral staff and ministries for evangelism and Christian growth. It makes perfect sense Biblically to put a lot of emphasis and resources on training programs and outreach and mission; it makes little sense to spend everything on a building except as it furthers our goals as a local church. The church I grew up in always struggled to be active evangelistically, often struggled to support pastoral staff, yet could always find the money for organs and car park refurbishments.

Church buildings can be a wonderful blessing. They can be places that enable God’s people to meet for worship, prayer, Bible study, administration and training. They can be locations where visitors come into contact with the teachings about Jesus for the first time. They can be places that thoughtfully planned ministries can reach out to the local community in various ways. For all of this benefit, they are not God’s house. They are resources to be used in the service of God, not the focus of God’s work in the world.

Jesus is the temple, not church buildings. Jesus is the focus of God’s work in the world. In Jesus, we can have access to God, our sins paid for, and our prayers heard. And Jesus dwells in us by the Holy Spirit if we trust in Jesus. The wonder of a corporate worship service is not the building or the instruments but the people; it is the people that Christ died for, and the people whom we aim to build up and point to Jesus.

The Lord’s house does deserve the best. We should make every effort to provide for God’s people and to give Jesus our best in worship and our lives. That means far more than just a well-equipped church building.