Have you ever been part of a congregation that constructed a church building from scratch? What about renovating an older building or making a non-church space into a place suitable for worship?
I’ve never been a member of a church that built a new facility. But I have been a member of a church that renovated older buildings and also a member of a church that made a worship space in a place not built for that purpose.
In the second instance, two close friends felt called to start a new church by merging with another church, and my family walked with them through this transition. The other church sold their buildings, and for a while we had no place of worship to call our own. Our pastor worked out a deal with a local law office, and we moved into the small courtroom for church and the adjacent offices for Sunday school!
As part of the deal, we agreed to remove every trace of the church from the law building after Sunday morning services. This necessarily involved a lot of work both before and after church. A group of people committed to come early to the law office with bins full of hymnals, offering plates, and choir folders. Someone brought the container of Sunday school supplies and made sure chairs were ready for anyone who came. Someone put a sign out front to show that for these two hours, the law office was a church. Another group of people committed to stay late and pack everything away until the following week.
It was an unusual arrangement, but it carried us through the months until we found a permanent church home. Most of the time, you wouldn’t walk into a courtroom and think about worshiping God (unless perhaps you were on trial!). But the small, familiar items in the containers created the atmosphere we needed to move into a spirit of worship—even in a law office.
In the lesson text, Solomon has led God’s people to create something even more wondrous than a courtroom-turned-church. They have worked together for a long time to build the new temple, and now it’s done. Their final steps are to bring in the familiar items that help them move into a spirit of worship. Many of us don’t have to imagine their joy at the temple’s completion; we know what it feels like because we’ve helped complete this kind of work too. That is what God’s people do: provide a space to move a congregation into a spirit of worship. And that can happen anywhere.
• Have you ever had church in an unusual space? If so, how did your congregation make it work?
• What do you think are the requirements to turn a space into a place of worship?
• What items did the people in our lesson text bring to the temple to prepare it for worship?
• What items do you like to see in a worship space?
• How does your church provide a space that helps move people into a spirit of worship?
Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.
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