As I drove past my church one evening, I anticipated the lights to be on and someone there doing something. Alas, the church was darkened but for a few low lights around the perimeter. Driving on, I realized that most churches I know are like that—dark, dimly lit and quiet during the week. It reminds me of some local monuments in my town which are—dark, dimly lit and quiet.
This begs all sorts of questions when contemplating what a church building is for and how members see the function of their building. Have our churches become monuments instead of mission stations? We are often heard saying, “The church is a hospital for sinners,” but how many hospitals do you know that are shut down during the week?
Have we, in our enthusiasm to get home to heaven, forgotten the fundamental reason for the church’s existence in the community? Are we not supposed to be a shining light and a beacon to guide the lost home? How will the lost ever find us if all we do is open our doors once a week? Have our churches become monuments to ourselves and those who have died instead of hustling, bustling mission stations always looking out for the living and lost?
How can we tell if our church is operating more like a monument than a mission station? Below are a set of characteristics of monuments and mission stations that you can apply to your particular church and see how you stack up.
We know from experience that monuments are:
In monument cultures, you only have to go back into their histories to show that moving, selling or getting a new one is fraught with conflict and difficulty. That’s because monument thinkers can’t conceive of doing what they do anywhere else but on the site the monument was erected.
Monuments don’t usually get a lot of activity, but are only visited on special occasions. Those who engage in this infrequency usually feel that once the visit is over, they have done their duty. The doors are locked and the gates are barred until next time.
Sacredness of the object emphasized.
Those who are in a monument culture are often heard emphasizing that it has been dedicated and how sacred it is. They forget to realize that the sacredness is not in the bricks and mortar, but in the people who go there.