Here in Atlanta, we have numerous examples of these Xhurches or Ex-Churches. One of the more famous ones is The Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was planted in 1910 as The Broughton Tabernacle and housed The Third Baptist Church with its 4,000+ members until the mid-1980’s when the church found a new location. Did you catch that? The church found a new location. Here’s what I’m getting at: The church never was and never will be a physical building. The church is its people.
The church starts with Jesus and ends with Jesus. Jesus and his followers were the first church and they didn’t solely rely on a building or certain place to share, pray, teach, baptize, eat, drink and be merry. They walked and they wandered and yes, they targeted houses of worship as places they knew large groups of people would gather, but by no means was the place of worship (synagogue) the end. The place of worship was the means to getting the message out, not the end of the message.
We see a throwback to this non-locational based Christian messaging and teaching today with small group studies taking place in people’s homes, businesses and schools. We see it in the exploding use of internet driven sermons and studies. We see it in hospitals, prisons, mission trips and summer youth camps. It’s actually mind-blowing and freeing to see how much further Jesus can go beyond a building’s walls.
The church is not a building, the church is a people. While the venue may come and go, the church adapts and continues on.
Disused churches: documenting the adaptive reuse of religious buildings | Religion and the Public Sphere
The Xhurches project documents how religious buildings are being repurposed all over the world. Here the projects co-director Van Pham discusses how these spaces are being reimagined and what this tells us about the notion of religion, spiritual practice and community today.