Some final thoughts (for now) about buildings and the future of the church. In churches of Christ, we have traditionally fought about the identification of a building as “the church.” In my experience, we don’t emphasize that in our language as we once did, but we have tried to hold onto the concept.
That being said, it’s hard for a church to separate its identity from a physical location. Some of it has to do with memories and tradition, a bit like a house that’s belonged to your family for years. That house is not your family, but you have a lot of emotions invested in that house, lots of memories of who was born there, who died there, all the things that happened there.
The same happens with a church building, but on a larger scale. More memorable things happen in any given church building. You have multiple families with memories of weddings and funerals, baptisms and special days. It’s hard to separate that physical location from the identity of the church.
Older generations feel it even more. Besides the special memories, there’s the investment of money and effort that has gone into a building. There’s a since of pride and accomplishment in what the building represents, and there’s a deep sense of hurt when younger generations don’t share the feeling.
Of course, it’s not just the building that evokes that feeling. As younger generations reject doctrinal stances, question the structure of the church, and seek to develop their own liturgy, previous generations feel that they themselves are being judged along with everything else.
Randy Mayeux once pointed out that generational struggles come from the fact that one generation has built something, while the next generation wants to build their own projects. It takes great sensitivity on both sides to keep from exacerbating those differences. It takes a real focus on the Kingdom and the good of the Kingdom, getting beyond personal feelings and pride.