by Jeff Reed: It occurred to me the other day that churches, for the most part, don’t have steeples anymore. Well, some do. Ironically, the church where my family and I currently attend and serve does have a steeple. It’s an older historical church building in the heart of Coral Gables, FL. Actually, it’s this particular steeple that has me thinking.
Like many, the steeple is a symbol of strength, of security, and of safety. While many suspect these steeples and similar spires are historically grounded in paganism, the Christian movement adopting this idea is loosely tied to Proverbs 18:10 (KJV) “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”
Historically, these towers literally towered above the towns and cities, beckoning to the people that the church is in fact a strong tower that the righteous should run to in order to be saved. It’s a shame to lose this presence in our communities, right? Churches should go back to the steeple, be the physical symbol of a city in order to point people to God. The steeple should be the light our town and our city sees. If only someone would bring back the steeple!
I jest, of course. Concrete attached to a physical building has no spiritual prowess. But understand, Church, that most of us live our ministry life this way. In 2020, the steeple has just about lost its cultural relevance. Our buildings are close behind. Tens of millions of people gather each week in hundreds of thousands brick and mortar locations to worship God, gathering in man-made physical strong towers weekly (well, kinda weekly), where us, righteous, can find refuge and safety.
Just as the steeple has no spiritual prowess, neither does our buildings. There’s no power in our bricks and mortar. The power is in God and not in anything that we can make (see Tower of Babel). Proverbs 18 says the same of the Lord; He is a strong tower and we are to run to Him.
In some ways I think our steeples and buildings, our concrete and bricks, are a substitute for what God can do through us, His disciples. While our construction supplies have no power, the Holy Spirit gives us the power that we need to accomplish far more than we realize. For centuries church steeples have been a beacon for the righteous to come. This is a poor substitute for the power of God moving in and thru us. Our towns and cities should not be looking to the sky for our Church steeple. They should be looking to us Christians, us Disciples, us Disciple-makers.
2020 does not need more steeples to point God to a building. It does need more disciple-makers to point people directly to God. Disciple, there’s more power in you than in your building.