“The church is not a building.” Have you ever heard someone say this? I know I have! This statement is true on its surface—the church is the whole people of God, called from among every nation to belong to the Body of Christ. The church is also the gathering of these people in a specific location around the Word and Sacraments that Jesus has instituted for us. When people say, “The church is not a building,” what do they mean by that statement, and is the sentiment expressed true or false?
It was Easter Sunday at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, NY. The tiny urban neighborhood church was crowded with saints singing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” at the top of their lungs, their song rising to the roof as incense. New LCMS Lutheran converts Janine Bolling and Gerard Bolling, brother and sister by blood, with their entire Brooklyn family watching, were to become brother and sister in Christ, with the entire family of God both gazing down from heaven and gazing forward from the hot wooden pews in the not-yet-air-conditioned sanctuary.