Building a church is costly. It takes resources to build anything. You can’t build much for free. There will always be an element of personal sacrifice and costliness when you attempt to build something. And there is a price tag for building a community where the presence of God dwells. It was the same in Moses’ day too.
Exodus 25:1 – 9 says:
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats hair, tanned rams’ skins, goat-skins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and all its furniture, so you shall make it.”
When I think about what the Lord tells Moses to do in this passage my internal response is a moment of panic and fear. This seems like a big request to me. The list of material wealth that Moses is supposed to ask for seems astronomical. He’s asking for money, expensive threads, animal skins prepped for use, rare wood, oils, spices and expensive stones. This is a massive request and a massive cost.
But then God says “and let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst”. God is literally asking Moses to lead a building project that will construct a visible, mobile temple that will act as the worship gathering space for God’s people. In this space, God will live in their midst and it will cost them. This is a massive promise.
But this picture isn’t so different from the modern church. Regardless of your philosophy of physical buildings – whether you purchase and build or rent or not – there’s still a spiritual truth to be learned here. When God builds his church it takes all sorts of financial and material resources to do it. And the promise is that God will dwell in the midst of his people visibly.
Things like staff salaries, facility cost, insurance, printing fees, training, equipment, nursery and kid’s ministry supplies are all a part of what it takes to build a church where the presence of God dwells. Now don’t hear me wrong, people are the living bricks of the visible church and Jesus is the mortar that holds us together by the power of the Spirit. Massive request, massive cost and massive promise!
We are no different than the Israelites in our passage. Our contributions are helping to establish a church where the presence of God dwells for the purpose of helping people join the family and worship Jesus with their lives. This will cost us. We will need to invest. But, our investment is small in comparison to the investment that Jesus made with his life at the cross of Calvary.
So when I see this list that the Lord instructs Moses to ask for I do feel a moment of fear and panic but that feeling quickly dissolves as I catch the vision of Christ, giving everything at the cross so that our little church family could be built in this community.
Building a church is costly. It takes resources to build anything. You can’t build much for free. There will always be an element of personal sacrifice and costliness when you attempt to build something. And there is a price tag for building a community where the presence of God dwells. It was the same in Moses’ day; it was the same for Jesus and it’s the same for us. Let’s pray and ask the Lord to continue making us into the kind of church family that invests in the building of churches where the presence of God dwells.