In Alma 32, the people who are poor find themselves without a place to worship. The wealthy people — and especially the priests — decide they don’t want these poor people in Church with them anymore, so they forbid them from entering their synagogues. One of the leaders of this displaced group meets with Alma and bemoans their situation:
“They have cast us out of our synagogues…because of our exceeding poverty; and we have no place to worship our God…what shall we do?” (Alma 32:5)
In one way, Alma is actually happy for these people — this experience has made them more humble, putting them in a position to be closer to God — but he does address their concern over the lack of a Church building by asking them, “Do ye suppose that ye cannot worship God save it be in your synagogues only?” (verse 10).
Sometimes, it’s good for us to ask ourselves the same question. Here are some examples to consider:
- Bad weather has caused our branch of the Church to be closed today. Is it a day off from Church or can we worship God from home today?
- We’re a small group of Church members living in a remote location where there is no Church building. Are we effectively out of the Church, or can we get together to worship God anyway?
- Our Church building has been sold or condemned or is somehow gone. Is the Church gone from that area, or can we still worship God together?
Of course, the answer to each of the above questions is that you can worship God anywhere; the Church still exists even when there is no physical Church building. That’s because you are the Church building.
Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Isn’t the Church building that structure with a roof and four walls and pews and a piano and all that Church stuff? How can we be the Church building?
OK, maybe we’re not exactly interchangeable with the physical Church building; however, that building only becomes the Church when we are in it. Any other time, it’s just an empty structure. Following the same line of thinking, if we get together at someone’s home to worship the Lord, that home becomes the Church. Likewise, if we get together for a week at a college campus for a campout, that college campus becomes the Church.
What is the common thread in all of these examples? It’s the people of God — any building you meet in with the people of God to worship the Lord becomes the Church. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). You are, in essence, a portable Church building that carries the Spirit of God wherever you go. The physical Church building is just a tool for you to use while you are worshipping.
Of course, many of us love our Church building. Perhaps we’ve worshipped there for many years, and we have many wonderful memories associated with it. Each building is dedicated for the specific purpose of worship and is a great tool for introducing visitors to the Church — perhaps you met the Church within those walls. However, it’s good to keep the above in mind in case the occasion arises when we wind up not using that particular building any longer. Perhaps we’ll relocate such that we need to transfer our membership to a different branch. Perhaps our building will be sold as part of a larger Church strategy, and we’ll be asked to worship in a different location. Wherever you worship, the Church is there — you are the Church building.
Hopefully you find it liberating to realize that your worship of God doesn’t have to be tied to a specific physical building, but don’t take this as license to voluntarily skip going to your Church building, thinking that you’ll just worship God on your own. On the contrary, the message here is that there is really no excuse to not be “in Church” all the time. Even if there is no Church building available on a given day or for a period of time, don’t think you can’t worship God — after all, you are the Church building.
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building”
(1 Corinthians 3:9)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.