SATURATION CHURCH PLANTING calls for a breakthrough. We must break through the “stained glass barrier” into the simple, open fellowship of God’s people. We must see this fellowship in as many forms as the Holy Spirit will lead us, and not be afraid to call it church.
Whether we are meeting in Jesus’ name in a cathedral or in a kitchen, it is still church. It is still God’s called out, assembled people.
Yes, we will use buildings. However, we will never allow buildings to hinder our mobility, vision or zeal to multiply congregations.
THE CONSTANTINE FIASCO
James Rutz, in his book THE OPEN CHURCH, says: “What really killed us was the bricks! In the biggest blunder in her history, the Church began constructing lots of buildings.
“She displaced the catacombs (underground tombs) and forest glens in which the saints met. She ended forever the warm, precious meetings in someone’s living room.
“Modeled after the Roman forums, the new buildings held hundreds of Christians. Of course, you can’t have intimate, easy interaction with that size crowd. A new sanctuary, from the first Sunday it was opened, put limits on free expression. The new crib strangled the baby.
“Imagine you were living at that time.
“You may have felt at ease confessing a sin to a couple dozen friends over at Josephus and Johanna’s (or let us call them Joe and Jane). But could you do THAT in front of five hundred strangers?
“If God lay something strongly on your heart this week, you wouldn’t hesitate to stand up and spend ten or fifteen minutes sharing it in Joe and Jane’s living room. But here in the new hall there are probably at least a dozen men and women with a message burning in their hearts. You’d probably never have the chance to express yourself!
“Over at Joe and Jane’s, everybody got into the act in the worship time. You were able to praise the Lord from your heart, again and again as you felt led. It was the most meaningful and healing moment of your week. But here in this new building? You would have to wait your turn — which may never come!
“I could go on, but you get the idea. Without modern electronic sound equipment open meetings became difficult. Not TOO difficult, mind you, just difficult. So closed meetings took over.
“All speaking became centralized in a pulpit. Order was maintained. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
“At Joe and Jane’s, you were a participant. Here, you are a spectator — a passive listener. Somehow you do not feel important or needed anymore.”
“When we switched from living rooms to church buildings with a professional staff, we lost all momentum. The local church became weak and cold.
“Non-priests were termed ‘laymen,’ a word not even found in the Bible — and for good reason.
“As a ‘layman’ in a Fourth Century church building, you no longer approached God directly. The priest did so on your behalf.