What is the point of church buildings? I was walking through a major city recently (OK it was London) and passed several church buildings of various denominational flavours. Many of them offered all sorts of enticing experiences from a warm welcome to eternal life. But none of them were open! On a bright morning they were dark and the doorways to all that was apparently on offer were locked. Millions of pounds of assets doing nothing.
Now I was fairly happy that day with no particular issues. But what if I’d just been told I was being made redundant or that my wife had been diagnosed with cancer? Or what if I wanted to find out more about this person called Jesus or this thing called Christianity? What is the point of church buildings? Are they signs of the Kingdom of God, mission centres that say we are here to serve you, open, welcoming and hospitable? Or are they club houses for members only? Archbishop William Temple once famously said that the church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of its non members. The locked doors in London seemed to contradict this whilst the number of different buildings seemed to say more about how we are divided denominationally than how we are united in Christ.
I wandered on day dreaming. What if we could get our act together ecumenically and turn bricks into people by selling some of our underused buildings and having others open every day of the week to truly offer what it says on the notice boards. This would of course involve a bit of death and resurrection but isn’t that at the heart of the gospel? I then went into a warm friendly coffee shop, full of life and conversation and pondered what could be.