The Dead Church
Today we walked through the Sagrada Familia Temple. It is the largest Basilica or Cathedral in Spain. On the outside it is an impressive sight. It looms stories up into the air and when you ascend into one of the towers you can see all of Barcelona.
The designer, Gaudi, was a devout Catholic and designed the cathedral in intricate detail. Every stone, every piece of plaster, every carving was planned out almost 150 years ago and the building continues today.
As we toured this magnificent facility we saw 4 windows that had what appeared to be two-way glass looking down into a basement area. We asked one of the many guides what this room was, we were told it was the crypt of Gaudi, the designer. As we moved to the other windows we saw benches, pews, candles, and even an ornate pulpit. For us this was very confusing. We thought out loud, “Why would anyone want to have a service in a tomb, when you have this unbelievable cathedral just above.”
Later in the day we traveled down to the crypt, and to our surprise, they had just started mass. It was Sunday afternoon, and there were about 50 people in attendance. The Bishop dutifully performed the traditional ceremony, the people stood, recited, and mumbled through a song and it was over.
I was overwhelmed with emptiness! The people and the service were as dead as the guy laying over in the crypt just 40 feet from the pulpit, and then it hit me. This “church” was really no church at all. It was a museum of a dead man, that occasionally had religious services, and charged its guests entrance. Somewhere along the line the magnitude of the building became the mission of the church.
My prayer is that Friendship Church never misplaces its mission or its vision. It is our vision that drives absolutely everything we do as we strive to “Glorify God as an effective and influential church!” For all I care, we could meet in a tent, as long as we are reaching people for Christ! Buildings and beautiful facades have never led anyone to Christ…but they sure are pretty.