Sun. Ed. 6/10/01 (John)

Worship space

Worship space

Purpose of buildings is to equip

believers for service to God

As the members of Harrisburg Baptist Church in Tupelo hold their first worship services in their new building on Cliff Gookin Boulevard today, they may be justly pleased with what they have accomplished. The new multiplex facility is aesthetically beautiful, functional, and allows room for continued growth. As the old saying has it, “The building looks like those who worship there love the Lord.”

Yet, as the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Forrest Sheffield, has pointed out, the building is merely a means to an end. “Our vision and purpose for the move to the new location is to have a place where we can reach more people for Christ and more effectively teach the word of God,” Sheffield said.

People of all faiths presently and throughout history have worshipped in many kinds of physical structures, including homes, rented store fronts, small one room buildings, cavernous cathedrals, brush arbors, movie theaters, and hotels. Harrisburg itself first met in a Tupelo elementary school.

Whether a facility costs $15 million or $1,500 or less, or is made of wood, metal, brick, stone or straw, the goal is the same: to provide a definite physical space to gather for corporate worship and become equipped to go forth into the world and live out one’s religion in daily life.

A faith community which forgets the true purposes of its meeting place and imagines that the building, however lovely it may be, is the supreme testimony of their commitment to God, in time may discover that the building has become merely a monument and a tomb for dead faith.

God is far greater than the houses we build to gather and worship him. As King Solomon prayed when he had finished building his glorious temple: “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27).

Every community of people which sacrifices financially and works hard to construct a fitting place of worship deserves the satisfaction of seeing the fruit of its efforts, particularly in knowing many lives will be affected for good because of what has been accomplished.

The result is that the Most High, who does not dwell in temples made with hands, will find ready and expansive hearts in which to make his home.