People can be forgiven for thinking of the church as real estate or buildings. After all, those are seemingly the most permanent features of the organization. It’s what you see when you drive past. People come and people go, but the geographic location gives the church a sense of “place,” and the building provides a sense of “home.”
And yet, the church is really the people. Churches move—perhaps to be able to grow, perhaps because of persecution, perhaps because of immigration and new opportunities. The people matter more than the buildings. Listen to Paul talk about the true church in Rome at his time: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house” (Romans 16:3-5).
God’s kingdom is not a geographic location or an inventory of assets but, rather, his gracious rule in people’s hearts. It is people, not buildings, for whom Jesus Christ died and rose again. Your congregation’s true mission is not preservation and expansion of the physical plant but connecting with people through the gospel. The next time you are worshiping in your congregation, look around you and enjoy the decorations and architectural beauty. But enjoy the people even more. It is their energy and creativity and loyalty and love that really hold the place together.
Love them. Appreciate them. Thank them.