Making an Old Room New Again
Tonight we had a dedication service for our new youth room, which is actually a remodel of our former sanctuary (which is 92 years old). As you can tell from the pictures, it turned out absolutely beautiful. The best part in the remodeling process was when we pulled back the old carpet and found the original hardwood floors still in good shape. Again, as you can tell, the floors cleaned up great.
The service this evening was one of my favorite services in a long time. I gave our people a chance to share their memories from the old room, and many people shared about their conversion, baptism, wedding, or other special memory. One of our long time members said it best, when he said "If our forefathers could see this building now, and what it's being used for, they would be proud." And that's really what tonight was all about... Dedicating an old building for a new use... One generation passing the torch to the next.
We know church isn't about the building. I'm proud of Selmore because they genuinely get that. But that doesn't mean that buildings don't hold strong emotions and deep attachments for people. Typically, we pastors don't have a lot of sympathy for such things. It's easy for us to say "get over it" when a church building receives a makeover, or is vacated for a new facility. Especially when we've only been there a few years. But what about the people who've worshiped there for a lifetime? What about the wife whose husband finally walked the aisle after years of prayer? What about the 50 year-old man who remembers sitting on his grandfather's knee every Sunday in that very room? What about the mother who said good bye to a child in that room? Such things are not easily forgotten.
So long as the building doesn't become a "golden calf" (and we all know horror stories of that happening) I think it's okay, and even healthy, to allow our people a chance to process their feelings. That's what we did tonight. And it was a good thing for our church. And, honestly, it was a good thing for me. By my count, I preached about 600 sermons in that room. (Preaching in there tonight was like being reacquainted with an old friend.) I baptized my firstborn in that room. I love that room.
But time marches on. Now a new generation will make their own memories in that room. And that's okay too.