by Pastor Scott Heine
Hope is busy expanding and renovating our facilities. It’s a huge investment of time and resources. And at the heart of the project is a new theater. It will have fixed theatrical stadium seating, a large stage, and all new high-tech audio, video, and theatrical lighting.
But why a theater? Why not a traditional sanctuary? Where’s the altar, the cross, the stained glass windows?
I read an article this past week about the archaeological discovery of an ancient church building in the Middle East. It was suggested that it could be the oldest church facility ever found, and the author suggested the significance of the various architectural elements and how they might link to some Christian traditions today, thousands of years later.
Yet before even this oldest-of-old churches was constructed in the 1st century, Christians had already made their home in different places: on the steps of the Temple in Jerusalem, in the homes and estates of prominent early Christians, in local synagogues where people were already gathering to worship and consider scripture. And before that Jesus taught in the streets, by the seashore, in a vineyard, and anywhere else the people gathered.
A “church” is not a building; it’s a gathering of God’s people. And before Christians started building facilities for worship, they were taking advantage of wherever the community might gather. The church—God’s people—went to wherever the locals might meet.
This attitude is echoed in our own choice for facility development. Rather than build a space that focuses on our needs and distinctives, Hope has chosen to build a place where our community might gather. We are eager to invite our neighbors into our new home, and we want to share the space for recitals, concerts, weddings, funerals, seminars, training meetings, and theatrical events.
It certainly isn’t the cheapest option. Making our facility flexible for a variety of events requires compromise and extra investment on our part. And it’s certainly not the most convenient option. Sharing our space means that we will have to adjust our own schedule in order to serve others in our community.
But it’s worth it. Every time a neighbor attends an event at Hope, we hope they will feel just a little more comfortable in our space. We hope they will feel more at home here. And we hope that comfort will allow them to join us to explore spiritual questions and discover the life-changing love and grace of God.