This weekend we had Portable Church Industries out of Detroit consulting with us as to how we can create sacred space out of a movie theatre.
One of the things that hit me as we were going though each room, the lobby, the theaters, talking about the ambiance of the room was, there is something to be said for using public space and forcing yourself to think about how you can create sacred space.
Everyone obviously wants their own building; a place where they can go and be. But too often when we get our own buildings (and trust me, I’ve been on both sides of this argument). We tend to nest. We paint the walls, put up decorations, and create a certain environment. And over time we get used to it. We don’t look at it critically. That is, we don’t look at it from the point of view of the outsider. It’s ok for us. The room smells don’t bother us anymore because we have smelled them for so long. The rooms look ok. They’re ok for our kids. Why aren’t they ok for “their” kids? And it becomes, very quickly, all about us.
If you are bemoaning the fact that you rent a high school, grade school, movie theatre, a lodge, or whatever because you have to set up and take down, maybe that effort is more of a gift than you know. Maybe the fact that you have to look at neutral space, or even negative space, and figure out: how can I create an environment out of this space in which people can experience the real presence of God in their lives?
What price is worth creating a beautiful, inviting, energetic, happy space out of a movie theatre for the sake of the gospel, for Jesus’ sake, for the sake of the church of Jesus Christ, for the movement we call Christianity? What is worth the human soul? Is it worth all the effort of set up and take down? Is it worth all the money you have to spend to create those spaces?
We don’t know yet what the price-tag is going to be for us to go to the next level. It will probably be $150,000 – $250,000. That’s a lot of money. But think about the investment. We think nothing of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on baseball fields and football stadiums. And I’m all for it. We know that museums and libraries are important. Have we forgotten how important it is that 52 weeks out of every year – year after year after year – someone creates something cool, pays the money, goes to the trouble, and creates sacred space?
Not just for us adults, but for our children; a place they can go and learn about God in a fun, safe environment, around happy people who have created this beautiful place they get to go to, where they learn about a good God who loves them as they are, not as they ought to be. They learn about the ideas of faith, hope, and love. They understand grace and new beginnings are things God does every day. I can’t think of how you’d put a price on that.
I don’t know what the price tag will be when Portable Church comes back with the results of their consultation. But I do know this: after having spent over three decades in leading the American church, I believe more than ever that there is no price too high to pay to create a great church that people love going to.