Thinking About the Future of the Church in America from a New Church's Perspective

As a portable church, we recognize that there are many challenges that we will face that established churches which own property and have their own buildings may not. One of those challenges has to do with meeting space. Although we have not run in to any major hurdles with regard to meeting in a school, we are aware that this is becoming more of an issue in our country. An article in the USA Today recently explored some of the issues that church planters are facing when they approach school board officials about meeting in local schools. The article mentions that around 20% of new church starts meet in portable locations like schools and if the option of meeting in these public places is taken away it will become quite a challenge for new churches to find suitable locations for worship gatherings in the future. One of the things that we most appreciate about this community is that the local schools seem to be very open to allowing churches to meet in their space. It seems to me that a partnership between a school and a church has the potential of being beneficial for both parties in a number of ways. Along with bringing money into the school through our weekly rent, we intend to serve the school where we will be meeting by offering our services to help improve the grounds and facilities as well as serve the students, teachers and administrators in any way that we can. One portable church that we visited recently has helped the high school where they meet by painting walls, making repairs and doing groundwork around the property. They have also been able to purchase new equipment that they allow the school to use during the week. The school would most likely not be able to afford the kinds of improvements that the church has made to the property otherwise.

New churches like The Journey have a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the community by holding worship gatherings in local schools. We are also well aware that a missional focus is crucial if the Church is going to have any influence in society any longer; we must be visible and actively engaged with the community if we are going to reach those far from God. The courts would like us to get our own buildings and keep ourselves separated from the world. This is not an option for The Journey, and it is not an option for the Church of Jesus Christ in America today.

The primary concern I have with all of this is that certain influential government officials and agencies could press the issue enough to force legislation that would make it illegal for schools to allow churches to meet in their facilities. If this occurs it could potentially open the floodgates of persecution against the Church in numerous other ways.

Scripture teaches that perfect love casts out fear (I John 4.18) and with that in mind, the Church must not allow fear to control us. We must be people of love who continue to serve, witness, minister and care for those around us. No matter what happens, we know from the miraculous stories of the underground church in China and elsewhere that nothing can stop the Church of Jesus from accomplishing what it is intended to accomplish.

Please be praying for the churches that are being forced out of the schools. Please be praying for strong Christian leadership in our government to take a stand. Please be praying for those who wish to shut down and disable the churches in this country. Again, I am reminded of Scripture and the words of Jesus: “… on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16.18)

The Journey continues …

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