At Lighthouse we have three campuses. You may think this is weird, but our Northern campus was planted deliberately on the thought that our people may probably attend a Wednesday night church service or a Thursday night church service or possibly a Sunday night church service, but they may never attend a church service on Sunday mornings. In coastal communities around Sydney people tend to go to the local surf lifesaving club on Sunday mornings. That’s what they do in the northern suburbs of Wollongong. They take their kids to Nippers, the surf lifesaving club for children aged between five and 14. Then after that they go out as a family for brunch. They hang out together for a while on Sundays.
So we decided that our Northern campus team should not do Sunday morning services. Instead, we send them to the surf club or surf lifesaving club on Sundays. I’ve learned that we can run church services anytime and anywhere, but the worst thing we can do is insist that people leave the activities they’ve been doing for years to come to a church service.
We realized that if we’re not careful, we can let the word church speak to us about a building or a location or a service when that’s not what Jesus meant. Jesus said the church is a group of people who are called for a purpose. It’s a gathering for sure, but it’s not limited to a building. We can gather together as a church in a building on Sundays, but we also need to feel like we are still a part of the church on Mondays as well.
Some people think the Apostle Paul chose a building in the heart of the city of Ephesus for the church at that time because it was accessible and easy for Christians to get there. But if you read Paul’s account, he absolutely did not plant a church in the centre of that city so that Christians or even non-Christians could come. He strategically planted a church there so that Christians could have access to everyday business people in various trades and services. His strategy was to plant a church in a location that made it easier to get Christians out into the marketplace where those who didn’t yet know God gathered.