The Repurposed Church

We all have irrational thoughts from time to time.  One such thought of mine is, “Lemme me just look at this blog for a quick sec.”  A “quick sec” inevitably turns into an extended foray into a particular blog nice.  Most recently, I’ve been stewarding many of the cracks in my day to the black hole of home design blogs.  Some of my favs include Young House Love, Design Sponge, Simple Design, and Apartment Therapy.

Last week, Apartment Therapy ran a post entitled The Ultimate in Upcylcing: Homes in Converted Churches.  {A quick glance through the comments reveals that many readers did not like how the term “upcylcing” was applied in this context, perhaps repurposed would have been a better choice.}  Be sure to click over to the post to see some amazing images of converted church spaces.

There is a new trend in the design world whereby buildings formerly used as houses of worship are being transformed into single family dwellings.  They suit the modern home owner, who covets open spaces, a sense of grandeur, and an homage to the vintage, repuprosed, eco-friendly lifestyle.

Images via Desire to Inspire

 I was particularly fond of this one in the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Images via Homedit

This trend could easily be turned into a variety of pop parables.   But, the one I chose is something I’ve been chewing on for quite some time.

::

A church as a home?  For many believers, church IS home.

In fact, we even refer to our churches as “homes”.

I’ve often found myself asing a new acquaintance, Do you have a home church?

Home.

The  very word conjures up feelings of warmth.

It’s inviting, like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies from Grandma’s kitchen.  A place you want to curl up and get cozy, maybe share a cup of coffee with a friend.

The idea of a church as a home is a very nice notion.

But, is this what church is supposed to be?

Most church buildings today are multi functioning.  Some churches even have a sanctuary that doubles as a gymnasium or auditorium.  A church is no longer simply a place of worship, but a gathering place for a variety of purposes.

The downside of this is that one could easily find themselves at church every night of the week,  completely wound up in “ministry commitments”, taking classes or just hanging out with others from the congregation, being a “homebody”.

Those things sound nice to me, very comfy and homey.   I get to hang out with people who pretty much see eye to eye with me on the things I value most.  I’m surrounded by those whose  lives very closely resemble mine.  I don’t have to get “uncomfortable”.

But, again, is this what church is supposed to be?

The purpose of this post is not to fully explore the exact purpose of “the church”.  There are various theological and doctrinal ramifications to that discussion that I’m not fully educated or even inclined to discuss.  However, the purpose of the church that I keep coming back to is very simply summed up by Jesus Himself in the Great Commission.

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of this age. {Matthew 28:18-20}

Doesn’t sound like you can stay “home” and do that now does it?

Doesn’t sound like spending 4-5 nights a week at church now does it?

Doesn’t sound like putting on your favorite sweats and getting cozy on the couch now does it?

The picture that I get of the church in context of the Great Commission is what is known in the military as a Forward Operating Site {FOS}

An FOS is defined as a scalable, ‘warm’ facility that can support sustained operations, but with only a small permanent presence of support or contractor personnel.

This is different from a Main Operating Base {MOB} that is much like a self-sustaining, small city, offering most of the comforts of home, community, and convenience.

The FOS is meant to support the larger mission and the operation of the armed forces.  It’s a place of sending out and going forth.

If the church operated as an FOS, it wouldn’t be a home.

We would only return to be better equipped to sustain the mission of the Great Commission.

And, we wouldn’t spend the majority of our time at church, because we would be out in the field making disciples and fulfilling the mission.

::

Would you want to live in a home that was once a church?  Which room would you choose for your bedroom?

Do you think of your church as “home”?

What are some good things about considering a church a “home”?

 

15 thoughts on “The Repurposed Church

  1. Well, since we meet in homes I don’t think we can get away from calling it that! :)

    You probably already know this (or not) but my church meets in homes 3 Sundays out of the month. We currently have 12 groups around the region.

    It’s a great model to help us foster community but of course it doesn’t guarantee it.

    But yeah I totally agree that home isn’t the place where we’re supposed to spend all of our times. We have way too many “homebodies” in the body of Christ! :)

    1. You bring up an excellent point. I certainly believe that a local body of believers should be a place of community and caring for one another. But, sometimes, it’s easy for us to get enmeshed in those relationships and not look outside of them to welcome in others or to serve others. {Raises hand, guilty as charged.}

      I love the model of your church. Mostly because I feel that it is within that intimate, small gathering that my faith is really sharpened. But, it’s through that sharpening that I should be filled up to go out and share the love of Christ.

  2. Like Tony, church (the way we see it today – place to worship) is not home. Not even close. Church is never (at least to me) seen as a place but as a people. So Church is defined by a group of people who meet together any place anywhere. So, when this happens, as Jesus did and the disciples did, it becomes home, because as the book of Acts carefully illustrated “they had all things in common”.

    1. Oooh, soooo good, Moevelous. We just started a study on the book of Acts at my church. I’m so excited to learn more about exactly what “church” is and what’s it’s function and purposes are. I’m looking to do my own personal study on this topic as well because I’m finding that a lot of my thoughts and ideas are steeped in tradition and old ways of thinking, and not necessarily on the Biblical model of “meeting together” as you say.

  3. I would LOVE to live in a converted church. I would jump at the chance!

    I’m completely in line with you about a “church” being an FOS. We need a place to recharge, refuel and have moments of safety….and then we GO!!!

  4. Great article! We are currently without a church “home” so this was very interesting. We also had a small group for several years that met in our home – so that seemed more like “church” to me at times because of the relationships with people. But alas – we are but wanderers and gypsies – if you will – still looking for a place to call home :)

    1. I love our small group that meets. I certainly feel that this is where my faith is most greatly nurtured, although I do love and value the importance of corporate worship.

      How is your search for a church home going these days, Cindy?

  5. wow, those homes are amazing! in pittsburgh, two churches have were turned into a bar and restaurant, but the diocese felt so burned, they now strip churches before selling them. a ministry bought one and were sad that all the iconography and sacred art wouldn’t stay.

    you make such great points. we can’t fulfill the great commission if we’re treating a church building as home. heaven is home, and the church is a people charged to impact the world. if we’re getting too cozy, something is amiss. we do need to cultivate a sense of belonging, community…just not an inwardly focused one, i suppose.

    1. I think there is a great tension between cultivating community within the church and not becoming an isolated or insulated group of people. It’s a very thin line, and one that I myself certainly struggle with. Once I become deeply connected, it was hard to continue to think of those who weren’t in the same situation. It’s a continual turning away from self. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. :)

  6. Great post, Keri.

    I think living in an old church would be really cool. Not sure where the bedrooms would be, but I think the sanctuary would become the living/kitchen/dining room because that’s where I’d want community to happen in the “home”.

    Very interesting tie in with military concepts of FOS vs MOS. Nice touch.

  7. I totally agree with what you’re saying here. But I have learned, from moving around a lot, that we do desperately need that home base. It shouldn’t be discounted. Deep, meaningful relationships, the ones that Christ meant for us to have, can only be formed when we are in one place for an extended amount of time. Even when you hit it off with someone, the friendship needs time to blossom. It needs to go through a couple of seasons before it can be firm.
    My church has two services on the weekends, and one on Wednesday. But then, we also have the option of being in a Home Group, which allows us to discuss the teachings and apply them and share our triumphs and struggles and failures. My church also has missions trips pretty often and has a number of community outreach events and efforts. They have even sent out missionaries to start other churches in the States and elsewhere. I think it’s the kind of church like you were saying…an FOS. I think it’s a pretty good balance.
    Great post! I loved it.

    1. Hi Samantha…welcome to Pop Parables! :)

      I most certainly believe that we need to be deeply connected with a local body of believers. I’ve moved many times as well, as a former Air Force spouse. It was those deep connections that provided me a sense of belonging and support that I would have normally gotten from my flesh and blood. But, like you mentioned, it took time, persistence, and consistency. I think generally speaking, it takes a good 18-24 months of solidly showing up before a real intimacy is formed. Glad to hear that you have found this with your local body of believers. :)

      1. That’s about the amount of time that I’ve found is necessary for that intimacy, too! I guess it’s pretty similar for everyone, then (:

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