In the early years of the church Christians were oftentimes considered atheists by their neighbors. That’s because Christians didn’t travel to a dedicated temple to worship their deity. Instead, they referred to themselves as the temple (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). They knew without a doubt that the church wasn’t a building, but a group of people on mission together.
Today churches are finding creative ways to utilize their buildings for the sake of their mission. For instance, Passion for Planting’s home church New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA, never owned a building of their own until they bought a former Budweiser distribution center and turned it into a community sports complex called the nZone. Seven days a week community members flock to the building to exercise, socialize, and rub shoulders with church members dedicated to helping them discover God.
The idea for the nZone resulted from church’s leaders asking how the church could best steward its resources with a building. It didn’t make much sense to them for the church to build a facility that would be utilized primarily by church members. It didn’t make sense to them to invest in a space that would only be used a few days a week. To them It made much more sense to build something that would be used seven days a week primarily by the people they were trying to reach.
Running a sports complex and leading a church isn’t for the faint in heart. It’s a lot of work, but the opportunity the nZone provides the church to serve its community and share the gospel makes it with it.
Another church that’s leading the way in utilizing its facilities to serve its community and proclaim the gospel is National Community Church. NCC has been focused on positioning itself in the middle of the marketplace since it began meeting in Washington, D.C.’s Union Station. Today they continue to think of innovative ways to redeem their community’s real estate for Kingdom purposes.
A core conviction of NCC is their belief that the church belongs in the middle of the marketplace. That’s why they bought an abandoned crack house on Capitol Hill and turned it into Ebenezer’s Coffee Shop. It’s why they opened the Miracle Theater in a historic movie theater. It’s why they bought an entire city block and are transforming it into a place where the church and community can cross paths.
Churches like New Life and National Community remind us that everything we have belongs to God. He expects us to be good stewards of all he entrusts to us. He expects us to let our light shine in the darkness. That means we can’t hide in our buildings or homes but must go into public places and shine for him.
Perhaps your church doesn’t have your own space. If that’s true, don’t be content to allow your people to meet for small groups in homes. See your lack of a building as an opportunity to be the church in your community. Encourage your people to utilize public spaces for small group gatherings. Meet with leaders in local coffee shops or even your local McDonald’s. Yes, McDonald’s is a great meeting spot. Don’t believe us, read Trevin Wax’s On Mission at McDonald’s. It may just help you solve the problem of where that small group with all the kids can meet.
If your church does own a building, consider how you can use it to serve the community. Some churches allow outside groups use their building for free, while other churches rent out space to small businesses creating a symbiotic relationship that helps the church pay its bills. If you’re looking for inspiration on how you can use its facility for ministry seven days a week read Ways to Facilitate Weeklong Ministry in Your Church Building. While you’re at it check out Sacred Spaces: How Your Church Building Can Bless Your Community 7 Days a Week. It’s another short, but inspiration read.