If You Build It They Will (Not Necessarily) Come
As you probably know, the phrase, “If you build it, they will come,” is drawn from the movie Field of Dreams. In the film, Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) wanted to meet baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson, a star outfielder for the 1919 Chicago White Sox. In response to a vision, Costner’s character built a baseball diamond in an Iowa cornfield and, sure enough, Shoeless Joe (and the rest of the 1919 White Sox) appears. In popular culture, the phrase conveys the idea that the very presence of something is sufficient to generate demand. Build it, and people will come. Simple enough.
That philosophy is sometimes used as a justification for building new church buildings. Want to grow your church? Build a church (building)! Want to reach people with the gospel? Move to a new, better, or bigger campus! You get the idea.
I think the enemy would have us assume the same thing—that the very presence of a building owned by Christ Fellowship will result in more and different people coming to Christ Fellowship. But, of course, that’s not necessarily true. A new building is not a magic potion that once opened will cause the community to stream inside. New buildings are sometimes attractional, but that shouldn’t be at the core of our strategy.
Let’s not be deceived by these kinds of assumptions. Instead, let’s ask God to create interest from the community. Further, and much, much better, let’s ask God to create interest in our heartsin the community. Let that perspective drive us to ask questions like: how can we love our neighbors? How can we demonstrate the love of Christ most clearly? How can we serve others in physical and spiritual need? How can we effectively communicate the message of Christ? How can we make sure that everyone—regardless of background, regardless of race, regardless of anything—feels welcomed and valued in our presence? One way—build it and they will come—assumes our work is largely done once we move in and leaves our hearts relatively unchanged. The other way—build it and don’t assume anything—reminds us that our work is just beginning, and that God wants new creation in us more than new construction by us.
Maybe a building will result in lots of new faces. Maybe it won’t. Either way, we shouldn’t rely on its attractional power. We have, after all, a far greater power—a power that is eternal, more beautiful, more unique, and more life giving.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
More in The CFC Blog
July 6, 2020Planting Trees: Sowing Gospel Seeds in the Next Generation
July 3, 2020CFC Kids Summer Update
July 2, 2020CFC Worship Update