Building for the Future

Colossians 3:23-24 - Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

I have often equated building a church to building a house. I’m no contractor, but I’ve driven past enough houses being built in North Jersey to have a general idea of the process. First you build the foundation; then you add the frame; later you add a roof, walls and internal components like plumbing and electric; and finish with sheetrock. Add some paint, flooring, and finishing touches, you’ve made a house your home.

Obviously, that’s a very simplified view on what it take to build a house, but it demonstrates some very important parallels to building a church, not the least of which is that for most of the process the house may not feel like a place you’d want to live. Unless you happen to be building your own house, the builders never even get enjoy the finished product. Building a house, like building a church, requires that everyone contributing to the project knows what they are working towards. They must hold that vision in mind for the people who will come after them and call that place home.

Of course, there is one significant difference, which is that unlike a house that is being built, a church does have occupants during the building process. The church-builders are working and living in the church as it’s being built. Yet our vision must never lose focus that the benefit of our work will be for those who come after us.

At our staff meeting on Tuesday we talked about the start of Restore’s GEMS and Cadets programs. We are so excited that Restore is at a place that we are able to provide these ministries for our boys and girls! And we go into it with tempered expectations. We know there will be bumps along the way, but we also know that it’s worth it to take the time to figure those things out.

The first night of Cadets exceeded those expectations. The boys who attended were excited and had a lot of fun with our project for the night. But the boy who had the most visceral reaction was the one who didn’t get to participate. At three years old he wasn’t old enough to stay, and when it was time for him to head home, he broke down in tears. He wanted to be included! I was reminded that we started this program not just for the boys who can attend this year, but the boys who will attend next year, and the year after, and in a few years, for this young boy to be able to attend himself.

This is the burden and the joy of building. The burden is that we need to be willing to work on projects, even if we won’t always reap the rewards. The joy is that, someday, people will enjoy the fruits of our labors who may never know how much work the builders put in. They’ll just know that the house feels like a home.