Scripture assures us that “we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” But pastors and lay leaders end up spending a lot of time fussing with the church structures—the “physical plant,” as we have learned to call it. Designing, building and maintaining structures have occupied the church’s attention, inspired its imagination, and called forth labor and sacrifice perhaps more than any other set of tasks.
Most of us feel a little guilty about that overwhelming commitment to buildings, our “edifice complex.” We tell people over and over that the building is not the church; the people are the church, the ekklesia, the called-out, beloved community. We say that we could do just fine without the building, in fact might even be freed up to be a more faithful church if we didn’t have to maintain the building. People listen to us respectfully but remain unconvinced.