This past week, a friend shared the reflection below written by Luke Holmes who I do not know. It was thought provoking…
Through years of practice and hard work, I have learned to spot a garage sale sign at great distances. Driving through OKC my eye caught a big one – not only was it a going out of business sign, it was at a church.
I wandered around the building some, and noticed it had all the problems older buildings have. Dated decor, lots of stairs, and it was probably difficult to direct people in the maze of hallways. One table, tucked away in the back, had a picture of the congregation taken a few years prior. The church shared little demographically with the high school you could see out the window.
I talked to a few of the ladies working the sale. The church was closing down because they didn’t have the money to pay the bills, the building was too much to take care of, and the just couldn’t keep membership up. Tears filled their eyes as they spoke of closing down the church, and how hard it had been.
It was sobering to walk through this church as it was closing. The stuff – junk some would say – that filled the tables represented hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of items. The chairs and tables that were for sale once sat in classrooms that were filled with children hearing the Gospel, with adults studying the bible, and with youth learning about Jesus. But now? The hallways were dead, the classrooms were silent, and the nursery was stripped of everything that could be sold. The tables were piled high with decorations for all the holidays, telephones, file cabinets, office supplies, kids toys, and craft supplies.
This is what is left over when a church closes. Stuff. Stuff once was used for ministry was now being picked over and sold for pennies on the dollar. People sacrificed to buy these things, to provide the church with what it needed to survive and do ministry. But what the church needs most is people, not things.
The people who populated the halls were long gone, but the stuff remained. At an estate sale, a person’s life is on display – what they spent their money on, where they went, what they took pictures of to preserve the memory. This church sale felt the same way. You could see the nursery items and kids’ tables and communion sets. They had everything that a person might say you need to have in order to have church.
They had all the stuff. But they had no people. There’s nothing wrong with buildings or chairs or stuff. They are simply tools used to bring glory to God through the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
But none of those things are needed to take the gospel to the nations. Your church doesn’t need your money or your stuff. Your church needs you. Not just to go on Sunday mornings, but the church needs you to be changed by the gospel and in turn share it with others. Make the decision not just to go to church, but to be changed by the gospel. Churches meet in buildings big and small full of stuff, but none of that matters. What matters is the gospel, changing people, and in turn changing the world through the cross.
It is sad to see a church close. It is equally true that the church building is a tool for ministry but not the ministry itself. Let us remain focused on the one who established the Church for our benefit: Jesus our King.
Sharing Jesus’ love is the main thing we do.
God bless you,