I was able to officiate a wedding for one of my former youth members last week. I had an awesome time catching up with a bunch of our former students. Their wedding was also special to me since they met at a Christian concert at Carowinds in Charlotte. But enough about the wedding, I didn’t mess anything up and the bride looked beautiful as always. What I wanted to talk about was the church.
They were married in an old “First” Church in North Carolina (I’ll leave out the name as a courtesy) It was a beautiful church, but as I walked around the church, I kept seeing something that bothered me. Around every corner, there were pictures of members from years ago, rooms that were named after people who had gone on to be with the Lord, and plaques that memorialized and honored people from the church’s past. It honestly felt more like a museum than a church. Something just doesn’t seem right to me to put up memorials everywhere in the church. How can you change a room or get rid of ugly furniture if it was left in memory of someone’s grandparents? How can you stay relevant to reach out to your community, when all they see in your church is remnants of the past?
I’m all for honoring those who have served God, but do you have to do it with pictures, plaques, and memorials? I think it was Howard Hendricks who once told a church that he was consulting with that they needed to build a fence around the church and charge admission. Just so everyone could see what church was like 50 years ago. In this case it was more like 100 years ago. I’m sure that the church is full of great people who love God. But I wonder if they realize that to outsiders it feels more like they are worshiping their past instead of worshiping God? I wonder what will happen to all these old great buildings as these churches lose their connection to the culture they are in? I hope and pray that it won’t happen, but my gut instinct tells me otherwise.