My wife and I spent hours during our recent vacation in England looking at church buildings. We visited my sister- and brother-in-law in Lincolnshire and viewed everything from old stone village churches to cathedrals. Two churches stood out. Let me explain why.
We celebrated the Compline Service Sunday evening in a village church a few miles north of Lincoln. The church tower dates back to Anglo-Saxon days. Church attendance is so low that Sunday morning services are held here only once a month or so. Only a handful come to services. The ancient stone building is cold and damp and empty. How very sad.
The other church that struck me was Holy Trinity Church in Coventry. It dates from the 12th century with a huge spire that climbs to the sky. Upon entering I could sense the presence of the Holy Spirit. This was a church with a living, vibrant, evangelical congregation, more than just an ancient building. In one corner was a bulletin board was a group picture of their smiling faces. Ah! This is why I could sense the Spirit in this place. The Church meets here.
I think of the dead church and the living one. Christ’s Church is so much more than a building! The essence of the Church is the faithful souls who make up the community of believers in a place.
- Who love each other.
- Who reach out to their neighbors with Good News.
- Who make love sacrifices for the Lord of which no one knows.
- Who serve Christ with the spiritual gifts they have been given.
- Who are faithful to Christ in their community.
The church is not the building. It’s Christ’s people. Christ’s precious people.