There have been fewer available seats lately in our church building in Greece. (This has nothing to do with the Euro or Athens’s economic crisis: our building is in Greece, New York.)
What’s happening to cause the bursts at the seams? Well, lemmetellya….
We have this great, new addition going up. Not an addition of people, as in Acts 2 or Acts 4, but rather, a structural addition made of concrete and wood and siding and paint. It’s going to make the whole meeting house look different, and there are definitely improvements all ’round — to redeploy the Rom. 16:16 “hearty handshake” colloquialism of J.B. Phillips.
- We’ll have the entrance on a different side, with a covered drop-off point. This is particularly welcome, in view of the frequent precipitation — of all sorts — in this part of the country.
- We’ll have an actual gathering area instead of a cramped, lobby-ette compromised by stairs and two doorways.
- There will be new restrooms that don’t gross you (or visitors) out when you enter them.
- … and much more (I’ve lost track of the developments and redevelopments of the building plan).
All this building stuff creates excitement and draws people. New members have been quietly moving our direction from churches across town. A new family moved in and never visited anywhere else, just staying put with us. People are coming together and volunteering and getting excited and staying excited. Leaders (pastor-elders, preacher, and deacons, all) are asking for extra money and extra time and extra understanding of certain inconveniences during the building process, all the while affirming the good communal efforts well underway.
Basically, there’s a lot of energy, and this energy surrounds the immense project that is our building addition is necessary in order to see the project through.
I remember a guy I met years ago in Beaumont, upon visiting a church for a special event. This church had just completed a building addition and was all gussied up and excited about itself. The man confessed that he enjoyed moving around to different churches when there were building projects going on. He got excited by construction projects, but I wondered what he himself was built of.
And I still wonder … despite the nice conveniences and esprit de corps that a building addition can bring to a church … whether the good energy can be sustained after the project is complete.
Will the new folks, and some of the old, “let down” after it’s all done?
Will they become distracted and disenchanted by the core of the church — which of course is not made of building materials?
Will the church grow spiritually, as the building proponents seem to think is a given, long after the visible, constructed growth is complete?
What role can the new and renewed spaces be expected to play in the drawing of outsiders to Jesus? Given that they do play some role, can we put that role in perspective, making adequate, sustaining plans to bolster those new folks spiritually?
When all is said and done, will the spaces currently brimming with apparent energy and life still gush and bustle, or will the excitement and newness of the project ultimately leave the church high and dry?