Lately, I’ve been thinking about moving. It’s partly because some good friends of mine have either recently moved or are planning to move. And it’s partly because City Church is moving its worship location in just four weeks. Beginning Sunday, February 6, 2011, City Church will meet for worship at Beth Ahabah Synagogue at 1117 W. Franklin St. For the last 4 and 1/2 years City Church has met in the same rented location: a beautiful and simple church building on Franklin Street. The church that owns the building (and worships in the building in the morning) has been a generous and accommodating host. But we have outgrown the space. No one has fallen out of a window yet due to overcrowding, but the space feels cramped and no longer allows us to provide the gracious welcome we want to.
When I announced this transition to City Church a month ago, I urged us to avoid to a coupe of potential reactions:
First, I warned against pride. Perhaps I was talking to myself as much as anyone else. With a move to a new worship space (especially a larger worship space) we could very easily become self-congratulatory; patting ourselves on the shoulder for how great our church is. We could begin to look inward for the reasons City Church has grown. Instead, we need to look to God, thankful for the ways He continues to draw together a community of people at City Church. And we need to look outward, to our neighborhood and our city. We are transitioning to a new space so that we can better serve our city not so that we can feel better about ourselves.
Second, I warned against nostalgia. I realized that moving locations might cause many people (including myself) to think about the glory days of City Church. Even in a young church there is a strong pull to reminisce about the way things were (usually with an attendant feeling that they were better then). Instead, I reminded our people that for those who believe in Christ, the glory days do not lie in the past. Our glory days are ahead. Our glory days come only when we enter glory with God. (A friend and regular attender at City Church has reflected more deeply on this very idea. I encourage you to read his thoughts here.)
We are people who are prone to pride. Sin bends our hearts and minds to glory in ourselves. We are also people who are prone to nostalgia. Often we seek to glory in the past. We need to repent of our pride and of our nostalgia. Instead, we need to glory in God. As the old Latin motto of the Reformers puts it: Soli deo Gloria. Glory to God alone.