Rose Madrid-Swetman

— Random Thoughts, Stories of Life, and Questions about the Journey —

July 19, 2008

Building To Serve Others Part 1

There is a lot of discussion in the “Missional Church” conversation around the issue of having a building for gathering and functions. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer, as I think this issue must be considered within the context, mission and vision of the faith community the building will serve.

For us a building became important in order to carry on our desire to continue to serve a specific community. In 2004 we took the step to lease a building. Prior to 2004 we were renting space in the basement from a local congregation for Sunday gatherings. When we were given a year’s notice to vacate, we began to ask the hard questions regarding leasing a space. We were at the very beginning of a journey, listening and interacting with the myriad of voices discussing the times we live in. We asked question after question trying to grasp what the tectonic change in world history we (the global community) are living through meant for us to be faithful as a local faith community.

We began a Tuesday evening dinner and book study. For eight months we met at our home for dinner and discussion. We discussed chapter after chapter of “Missional Church”. We were trying to wrap our brains around the concepts in the book and understand what those concepts might mean for us.

We discussed the pros and cons, the why’s and why not’s of taking the step of leasing a space. Our biggest fear was that we would lose sight of the congregation as the church. You see when we rented a basement room for Sunday worship only, everything else we did as a faith community happened in our neighborhoods, the host community and in homes. Moving into a leased space that we would have 24/7 access to could endanger us to put the emphasis on the building as the church rather than the church being the people.

Can you feel our dilemma? We prayed for discernment and direction regarding leasing a building or not. One morning as I was reading through the Gospel of John in Eugene Peterson’s, Message, I came to John 1:14:

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

my heart lept as I read those words. I literally felt like something ignited inside. I knew that it was the Holy Spirit saying, “this is why you can lease a building”. I knew then that we could lease a building and it would be right for us as long as we knew that the building was to be a tool, a gift to serve a specific neighborhood. As a congregation we were to move into a neighborhood and be the presence of Christ to that place.


  1. rose, i LOVE what you and your community are dedicated to on your building. it is the spirit of open-handedness, community connection, and incarnational relationships right where you are. i am not against buildings, i am only against wasteful buildings that then become a distraction to living out the gospel….blessings to you as you continue living out such a beautiful story…kathy

    Comment by kathyescobar — July 20, 2008 @ 6:54 am

  2. Hi Kathy!
    Thanks for your thoughts. I am with you about buildings. Part of what I am trying to do here is document our journey as part of my dissertation. I hope our journey could help add to the conversation so that people could have an imagination for a building as part of their ability to serve. Hope you are well. I think I will be seeing you at some OTML events in the Fall, will you be in Seattle?

    Comment by Rose — July 21, 2008 @ 1:24 pm

  3. […] “Building To Serve Others Part 1” “Building To Serve Others Part 2” “Building To Serve Others Part 3” […]

    Pingback by Missional Tribe — December 27, 2008 @ 9:55 am

  4. […] “Building To Serve Others Part 1” “Building To Serve Others Part 2” “Building To Serve Others Part 3” […]

    Pingback by Ravine of Light » Best Posts of 2008 — December 27, 2008 @ 11:39 am

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