The Church is not a structure, physically or organizationally. It is organic, incarnational, spiritual, God-breathed, and always open to mobility.
The photo depicts one of the structures on the property where our church met for more than 50 years. Over the years, thousands of people coursed through the doors of our buildings and many began a relationship with God in those structures.
I remember the day 14 years ago while holding construction plans for a new facility on our almost 7 acres of land when the Lord said to not build. People expected us to build. It made sense, but God had another plan. The answer to why we were not supposed to build would come after Ryan and Kate Rhoden became the new pastors of Living Waters Church in Medford, Oregon.
I took the photo almost two years after the sale of our old property. The congregation has since moved into a larger campus in the heart of the city. I call the events surrounding the move the “Miracle in Medford.” The church is flourishing. The move was a God-thing. The old building once filled with such life and history now looks sad, boarded up, weed-infested and lifeless. The building looks that way because its source of life has moved on. Living Waters Church has been moved to a new place to release something new God wants to do in the heart of our city.
The structures we occupy as communities of faith have seasons and purposes assigned to their temporary use. When God asks us to move toward something new, we need to follow His voice and be willing to leave some things behind. We can always take the memories and relationships with us. The most important things in life are never in jeopardy by physical change. They are held safe and secure in our heart.
Our spiritual life is a migration, not a settlement. Make sure the way you define the health of a local congregation is not by its physical trappings and programs, but by its heart. The heart of Living Waters Church is alive and well. Someday in the distant future, the congregation may move again. On that day, I am confident our future leaders, whoever they may be, will be open to the thing new God wants to do at that moment in their unfolding history.