Only a few hours remain before a historic church in the heart of downtown Sparta, Tennessee is auctioned to the highest bidder. Patrick’s dad called us last weekend to tell us about a 115-year-old church being sold by his grandmother’s real estate company. That phone call sparked a wild few days of crazy dreams, prayers, fasting, and a reinvigorated heart for the places where God’s people meet. We got a bit carried away with stirrings of revival and spent many hours floating questions on Spirit winds that encircled these sacred communications with Heaven. All the while, our hearts held their breath awaiting the answers only God could give us.
In the intersection of our inhale and God’s exhale, I experienced an awakening and a heartbreak all in the same moment – the chance to reopen the doors of the church and the awareness that doors are being shut and locked up for good. The cry of my soul to honor every place where salvation has been gifted and the harsh reality that those holy structures are now vacant and in various states of disrepair. The remarkable faith of our country more than a century ago and the sobering state of our present lives as rampant godlessness invades us in this hour. This bidder’s heart soon realized that the rising price of the fading physical church might be more than my soul could afford.
As the fog of our excitement and possibility began to lift, we saw clearly this was not the moment for us to buy a church. And with a little raw spot exposed on my heart, we headed over to my parent’s house for dinner. In a rare quiet moment, with my dad all to myself, he tenderly listened as I poured my heart out over this church (the representation of my zeal for the Lord’s temple), what it meant to me (a new horizon and a faith-filled, high-risk adventure with Jesus), the physical place of its location (where Patrick’s grandparents have lived for decades and where his parents currently reside), and then tearfully how God had gently said No. Then my dad looked into my eyes and said something I know I’ll never forget … “Why would you buy a church, when you already live inside of one?” That declaration of bold assurance nearly knocked me over. He went on to remind me of the glorious evenings we’ve shared together worshipping by the fire in my backyard with our passionate brothers and sisters. And the mornings my mom and I have spent teaching and ministering to our faithful sisters who gather in my living room every week to receive the love and impartation of whatever the Holy Spirit has poured into our hearts. There have been countless times, I’ve opened my door to receive weary and burdened souls who need prayer and a touch of healing from Heaven … oftentimes, they’ve been revived by God’s presence with just one foot crossing the threshold into the sanctuary He has crafted here on Bennington Lane. And perhaps the most impactful ministry is found in the hours that have turned into days of relentless, unceasing, and completely abandoned prayer and praise that has taken over my home for many years. What a revelation of the modern-day tabernacle of God and how He fills the spaces where doors open to receive His children!
Even in the midst of the conflict within my soul upon hearing a no from God, He offered me divine peace by highlighting a brilliant and radiant truth … that wherever a door may be closing, He is surely opening up another somewhere nearby. Though I weep at the thought of churches being sold and repurposed, my spirit delights to know that for every church that’s emptying, many home doors are swinging inward to welcome in God’s people for a biblical kind of church. One that is radically encountering the presence of the Almighty Father, His Son, and His Spirit in a very familiar setting.
No, the Church isn’t closing, nor is its power diminishing at all, because believers are intentionally seeking what we might discover afresh in the magnificent glory bursting forth from every heavenly door that is ajar. The Church is manifested in the heart of every crusader. We are the Church.