Thursday, April 05, 2007

"It’s not about the building"

The big megachurch in town has built a massive new auditorium structure just in time for Easter, so we’re hearing a lot about it. We got the usual bulk mailing piece designated to our zip code that had the catchy graphics and title of the sermon series that tries to get you to think that church is full of messed up people like yourself and so you’ll feel right at home. (Not really inspiring to me, but that’s another post.) I know quite a few people who go to this megachurch and it’s funny to hear how people justify such a large outlay of cash for an auditorium that will be used in its capacity maybe one day a week. Some of my friends are conflicted, but won’t come right out and admit it. Most that are leaning to the side of thinking it’s a good idea inevitably slide this little caveat into the conversation: “It’s not about the building, you know?” Why does ChurchGuy feel the need to continually justify what he is doing for the sake of the gospel? I somehow don’t picture Giovannino de Dolci repeating over and over again, “It’s not about the building, you know?” while he oversaw the construction of the Sistine Chapel. Why do we look at the ceiling of his building and what Michelangelo painted there and have a different response than walking into a 10 million dollar state of the art sound and lighting, media communications, plasma TV-walled wonderland? One we label as a masterpiece and the other judged as a waste of money. My point is not whether or not the megachurch should keep building something bigger and better, I’m intrigued by the need to constantly justify doing so. Worship leaders are notorious for this same rationalization. Their phrase “It’s not about me” is used ad nauseum. Why do we need songs to remind us over and over again that it’s not about me, unless I have a problem with it being about me? If ChurchGuy needs to keep reminding me that it’s not about the building, its going to make me think that the building really is causing some internal strife. We are planning to open a restaurant this spring. To do so I had to leave my vocational ministry job, which didn’t pay much or have many benefits. I now face the possibility of making quite a bit more money than before. But wouldn’t you feel suspicious of me if I constantly reminded you that this business venture is “not about the money?” The reason I don’t feel the need to justify my change is that I don’t feel guilty, so I don’t really even think about it. Plus I don’t assume you are looking at me and judging my decision to change careers. And if you are, that’s a You-problem. God, bless the megachurch this weekend, and the poor tormented folks who are still trying to reconcile the need for their new building. Amen.

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