‘God brought me out into a spacious place’ (Psalm 18:19)

There are lots of articles at the moment about how church should, could, must and might – change after lockdown. I am glad we are grabbing this chance to re-evaluate and re-focus on God’s calling. I can’t help but wonder if the Church is being brought out into a spacious place.

But we need to talk.

The phrase “we need to talk” has come to symbolise relationships that aren’t working out. Well, to be a spacious church “we need to talk” and for me the relationship that isn’t working is with our buildings.

Honestly…I’m not really missing the church buildings that I usually minister in and from as much as I thought I would. For me, and I suspect for many of us if we are honest, church buildings are where I experience the most quarrelling and division in the body of Christ.

Whether it is pews or comfy chairs, worship songs or hymns, sermon or casual chat, locked gates or open access, white lacy covers or a bare table, people always seem to want to pick a fight about church buildings and what happens in them.

The idea some have, that the most meaningful things that churches do are restricted to buildings that many find inaccessible or feel completely alienated from, that just doesn’t feel like church to me.

The Bible says nothing at all about church buildings, and it says a wonderful amount about people. Church isn’t about buildings, it’s about who we can be and what we can do; strengthened and inspired by God to lead the trapped and the shutdown out into a spacious place.

I do hope our church buildings open again; but not until some things change. Some of those things are, of course, to do with risk and safety. But, just as importantly, I hope our church buildings open only if and when our churches can lead people out into a spacious place.

Pews or comfy chairs? Who cares! Worship songs or hymns? Is it really so difficult to have both or neither? Sermons that close down and shut out… Out the window! Locked gates? Must we? Tablecloths? Irrelevant! as long as we can sit around a table, in fellowship together, and then bring our bread out to others.

Rev Jo Clare-Young, North Yorks Coast Pastorate Minister

Image: from Unsplash by Arthur Poulin