Making Church Official

I slowly walked up the deserted lot
To make my way inside
Every ounce of me kept walking
But also hoped to hide

I waited patiently outside
As the door it was unlocked
There within those walls
All the outside world was blocked

“Hi”, “Hello”, “How do you do?”
We said our pleasantries
I hoped I was successful
Hiding my discernible unease

“Wait over here,” she said
And led me to a room
Passing several others
Each empty, sparking gloom.

Things I didn’t see before
Somehow made their presence known
How did I feel so out of place
In the church where from a child I’d grown?

He walked in with a smile
And I returned the same
It was good to see a familiar face
Someone who knew my name.

We talked and I shared
He nodded as I did
He asked me questions quickly
You see, his schedule was a grid.

How many do you have? he asked
The question hit me odd
Well, what do you mean? I said
We don’t keep attendance log.

He chuckled just a bit
And shifted in his chair
How many show up each week?
I could not help but stare

It varies week by week, I offer
I really can’t quite say.
I can tell you stories though
If you’d like to learn their names.

No, no, that’s ok, his response
I’m glad for what y’all do.
I just can’t help but think
About the size of your crew.

We focus less on numbers,
I reply with certainty
It’s more about the people
Than a specific quantity.

When will it be official?
His words echoed off the wall
Like, with a building, time, and such?
In that moment I felt small.

I pause just long enough
To regain my composure
I guess that just depends, I say
On your definition of official.

Is it not enough, I state
To have a Body of Believers
Who gather regularly
To welcome sinners, lost, and grievers?

Sure, sure, he says
This is true indeed
But there is something else
The people need

What’s that? I ask
Truly curious to know
How to help my people
To learn and see and grow

They need to know who is in charge,
He says without a pause
And it’s important that the people
See a building to the cause.

The conversation dwindled then,
I could see we would not agree.
We said goodbye and best wishes
But eye to eye we could not see.

I made my way out
Of the frigid indoor air
Back down the freshly paved lot
Where I paused a moment to stare

I saw the buildings fresh and new
It really was so pretty
But a part inside of me
Actually felt more like pity.

For all the buildings, lawns, and shrubs
I couldn’t help but recognize
Not a single person to be seen
In this “official” church of great size.

My mind went back to the porches
Living rooms and kitchens
Where our body gathered frequently
To discuss our hopes and missions

To love the least of these
And find them in the way
To seek them out with diligence
And do so without delay.

Would our money be better spent
On buildings, lots, and signs?
Or should we release those manmade goals
To redefine those guidelines?

If we go back to the start of this
I think it’s safe to say
The early church focused less
On the visual take away

It seems to me that we intend to do well
And it’s so sincere indeed.
But somehow in our building craze
We overlook what we really need.

To simplify this thing called church
Back to the basics we should go
So those on the outside looking in
See Jesus, not our show.

Are buildings evil, on their own?
I dare not make the claim.
But when they take the place of people
Therein lies our shame.

I drove away that day
With a sadness in my heart
I wondered how we got here
And if we could restart

Focus less on building funds
And more on those in need
Put away our fancy things
And to the poor concede

Until the last belly is filled
And when the orphan is no more
Then we can come back to
The buildings, walls, and floor.

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