In Hebrews 11, that great chapter on faith, in the section about Abraham and his faith it says in verse 10: “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” This city is the ‘redeemed people of the Lord’, the New Jerusalem that is described in Revelation. There will be so many saved that the imagery of a house expands to more clearly resemble a city in size and stature. The point is God is the designer and the builder. He could see it from the beginning and laid the plans for the church. He is the builder taking the plans and making them reality.
Psalm 127:1 says: “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” The key to church building is if the Lord is building the house first and foremost. Take Grace Vineyard Walsall for example. Bonnie and I did not initiate the church plant ourselves. We didn’t think, ‘oh, this would be a good idea’. We felt inspired by the Holy Spirit to start a church. In fact He didn’t specify the location this time but through others He directed the course for its general location.
I know what it is like to assume you will start a church and have seen how futile that is if the Lord did not initiate it. I have also had the pleasure to be involved with a start up that was of His initiative and to watch what He did. We had people coming to us who were led there by the Holy Spirit. No advertising or campaigning was done. They got up on a Sunday morning, followed the promptings they were feeling and ended up outside the building we were meeting in. Now that’s the way to build church!
Building church under the initiative of the Holy Spirit is the only way to do it. Does it mean everything will be easy? Have you ever seen an architect’s mock up of a building? It looks fantastic. But when you visit the site, things are different. My experience with the building trade taught me that it is a business for people who like to solve problems. Things are never as easy as they look. Start a church expecting resistance. Church is a spiritual activity with eternal consequences. It is not to be taken lightly. The enemy of our soul doesn’t take it flippantly. He will throw everything he’s got at it to divert the establishing of a new church. Even though the Lord is the architect and builder of the church we are the labourers. If we quit, the plan remains incomplete. But if we persevere, the church will be established.