Questions concerning abandoning the sanctuary

Wow. After Mr. Anonymous created some activity yesterday, I hope today will be a little more calm. I said, "Tear down the church buildings," and we got more debate over showing the youth group Twelve Monkeys. Life never ceases to amaze me.

I will deal with the thoughts that people brought up in their responses to the post yesterday.

I want to clarify one of my thoughts before beginning. Buildings aren't the main issue here. The main issue is being loving. More often than not it seems that the building gets in the way of us being loving in tangible ways. That is why it is being brought up. The question we need to ask is, "How can we be as loving as Christ wants us to be?" If having a building is part of that answer, then we need to have a building. I think most of the time we just build buildings because that is the default.
Sam wrote, "On the one hand, worship is about giving God glory, and His presence is not confined to a building. On the other hand, a structure built by years of sacrifice as an offering of love to God is an awe inspiring thing."
I understand the feeling. I think building a church and everything we do should be an act of worship to God. But I am reminded by Martin Luther that we are things we are clearly called to love our neighbors and enemies and not to worship God in other ways:
"Therefore since you have received enough and become rich, you have no other commandment ot serve Christ and render obedience to him., than so to direct your works that they may be of benefit to your neighbor, just as the works of Christ are of benefit and use to you...Observe now from this how far those have gone out of the way who have united good works with stone, wood, clothing, eating and drinking. Of what benefit is it to your neighbor if you build a church entirely out of gold? Of what benefit to him is the glitter and the ceremonies in the churches, the priests' gowns, the sanctuary, the silver pictures and vessels? Of what benefit to him are the many candles and much incense. Of what benefit to him is the much chanting and mumbling, the singing of vigils and masses? Do you think that God will permit himself to be paid with the sound of bells, the smoke of candles, the glitter of gold and such fanices? He has commanded none of these, but if you see your neighbor going astray, sinning, or suffering in body or soul, you are to leave every thing else and at once help him in every way in your power and if you can do no more, help him with words of comfort and prayer. Thus has Christ done to you and given you an example for you to follow.

These are the two things in which a Christian is to exercise himself, the one that he draws Christ into himself, and that by faith he makes him his own, aprropriates to himself the treasures of Christ and confidently builds upon them; the other that he condescends to his neighbor and lets him share in that which he has received, even as he shares in the treasures of Christ. He who does not exercise himself in these two things will receive no benefit even if he should fast unto death, suffer torture or even give his body to be burned, and were able to do all miracles, as St. Paul teaches in 1 Cor 13ff. "

Sam continued, "On the one hand, the money saved by not building a church could be spent on ministry and meeting needs. On the other hand, the example from the OT of bringing your best and creating an temple inlaid with gold and precious stones might have a place somewhere."
It might. But I also see the trasnsition of the temple. In the old covenant it was the physical building. In the new covenant it became the body of believers. That might play somewhat into a lesser emphasis on a physical building.
Sam concluded, "In my experience, the church does a poor job of money management and allotment. We spend more on paper plates and cups than we do on feeding people. We spend more on A/C and heat than on housing the homeless. In fact, we probably spend more on communion crackers and juice than we do on some vital ministry. Thus you see why I am torn. The building and the cost of the church is high and many people benefit. But what about all those who don't?"
Good thoughts. As I said in my intro, I think there can be room for a building and all the other extras if we are are loving our neighbors and our enemies like Christ told us to. If we aren't feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, or housing the homeless, then our buildings stand in rebellion to the call which we have as the body of Christ. If we are doing those fundamentals, then there is room for the extras. Unfortunately, we usually place the extras above the fundamentals and the necessaries never get done.
Mike wrote, "Dude who wrote that first post....what a crack head!!"
Mike made me laugh. But I also think Mr. Anonymous probably had a good point. His methods and anonymity made the point get glossed over. But his point is for another day. Let this be a lesson to not be anonymous on the internet. People don't like that. (Linda, I can tell it is you when you are anonymous because of your writings. I just wanted to let you know that I am not pointing a finger at you.)
Linda wrote, "I think in an ideal world, it would be great for churches to meet in various places and be able to put the money towards other uses besides rent, upkeep, payments on a building, but we dont live in an ideal world."
I have always been an idealist. I will strive towards the ideal. If I fail, I will be where everyone else already is. But if I suceed...

We, as a body of believers, are called to embody the kingdom of God. We are to show the world what people who claim to follow God are to look like. We are the light. We can never settle for second best as long as the first best is a possibility. We are a people of hope. We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people of God's choosing. Let us strive for the ideal.

Linda continued:
"And at this point, most fellowships...even the small ones couldnt hold everyone from that church in their home."
That might be true. But here is where I diverge. If being larger prevents us from being the loving hands of Christ in this world, then we need not be larger. We need to understand what God wants his people to be. Once we do that, we shape our structures to achieve our calling. We don't let our structures and institutions shape our calling. If that means we need to have more churches rather than large churches, then that is what we must do.
"I know you advocate homefellowships and homechurches...but I think people of the age of my mom(and even of my generation that love the traditional church surroundings) would be hard pressed to let God shatter that stained glass as they stepped into something different."
I understand that is a problem. I don't have the answer for it. I do think that holding on to a tradition that is holding back the church from being what it is intended to be is wrong. However, I don't know if we can clearly say that it is wrong yet. I guess that is what I am working through in my head. But if the church is called to something greater than what we currently are and we refuse to reach that because we are in love with the traditional structure, then shame on us.

Troy wrote, "Doesn't the Bible say that we shouldn't borrow; that we should owe no man? I'm with you (for the most part) about what we could do with that money. Kind of turns your stomach to know most of it is tied up in buildings/utilities and trivial things."
Why, yes it does. Interesting that we ignore that for the sake of expediency. We feel we are supposed to have buildings, so we will break a teaching of Scripture to do that. This kind of leads into what I want to talk about yesterday (It was originally planned for today). But I'll leave you guessing on what that is.
Shannon wrote, "I am 90% convinced that when ELCC outgrows this land, that we will not purchase more. There is no way we could do it for less than $4 million. I think the building does serve good purpose, but that just seems like too high of a price."
I do think that our economy and culture, as Linda also noted in her comments, is going to force the church to take a different approach. I think we will be shocked and blessed by the results.
Linda wrote, "Even with not owning a building-generally there are costs to upkeep of some sort, or to be given to cover costs of electricity, rent...or if even if in a home-to help that person with their rent/house payment/upkeep as there would be more wear and tear on a home."
There are costs, but they are minimal, especially if you stick with the house church model. If we see our call to be loving as uncompromisable, then we will never expand beyond the size that we could fit in a home so that we would be able to use all of our money to do the things we feel cannot be compromised. What is the primary purpose of the church? Does having the expense of a building help us to achieve that purpose? I think a lot of the time we try to create growth and experiences through various programs and activities that loving people directly would bring without any extra effort. We need to go back to the basics. Church is not a complicated thing. We are called to be loving. Let's not let anything get in the way of that.
Linda wrote, "Surely not as expensive as owning their own building-but still very much something where there is always a cost-or some money generously given to cover wear and tear and what is used in resources. Not all funds would be freed up to go towards "projects"."
I agree. There is still expenses, but the numbers used yesterday left out the amounts that we currently spend on building maintenance and interest on our loans. This money could easily cover the expenses of doing church differently, so we could use God's money for God's tasks.
Linda continued to write, "I sort of have always seen the traditional church as a light in the darkness, as you ride over a ridge, and when the first thing you see is a steeple or a cross, or even when in the middle of a shopping see a dove or the word "church" among the other offers a light, a place for those seeking to know where those who know God may gather at a regular time of the week."
I can understand that. Seeing a church does remind one of God. But so does many other things. Seeing the moon, the stars, a beautiful sky, the sun, or a little baby. Taking away the church might just make us have to be more visible as Christians. It might cause us to have to take note of God in the normal things in the world around us.
Mike Hodgman wrote, "Amen! Have church in a field, or a park, or a person's house, then use every penny to do good works. Sure there are positives to a church building, but don't the negatives outway them? Just my opinion."
I would say the negatives of church buildings definitely outweigh the positives. They limit the size a church can grow. They create a mindset that God is more present there than where we eat, work, play, and sleep. I could make a list a lot longer, but I think we get the point.

Thanks for all the input yesterday. I hope that we all can arrive at a better understand of what the church is supposed to look like. I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say about what I have written today.

Watch out for the potholes.