Published: Jan 04, 2012 02:00 AM
Modified: Jan 02, 2012 03:38 PM
Here's the church and here's the steeple. Open the door and see all the people." As more churches are established without a building or a steeple, this beloved nursery rhyme and its accompanying hand gestures may become a relic of the past.
Some area congregations are redefining what church means. "You don't need a permanent building to preach the Gospel," said Mike Passage, Cary Summit Church Worship Leader. "The Gospel at its core is a message. It travels anywhere and to any location."
Saving money for mission work is just one reason these churches are doing without a building. Others say attending a church without a steeple removes barriers. It feels more comfortable to go to a school campus or a community center for a service.
On Sundays, Summit Church, which meets at Cary High School, starts buzzing as early as 6:30 a.m., when dozens of volunteers arrive to transform the buildings into a place of worship.For the children's ministry program, it can be overwhelming. "Setting up 10 classrooms means thinking about a ground-up approach," said Courtney Bryant, Summit Kids Director. Special flooring is required for the babies and toddlers. Lots of bottles of antibacterial gel are also needed.
"Think about it. During the week hundreds of high school kids are in these rooms and now we are using the space as a nursery," she said.
The extra effort is bringing positive results. The church's first meeting at Cary High School Aug. 28 drew more than 600 attendees. The turnout far surpassed the core group of around 125, which had been meeting since May at the South Venue of Summit Church's main campus in Durham.
"This is evidence that God is working," said Pastor R.J. Hoggard. "It's been fun to watch."
Veritas Christian Fellowship chose Middle Creek Community Center as their church location a year ago. About 40 regular attendees had been meeting in separate locations before January 2011.
That method of congregation-building can also be seen as a positive. "Meeting in various homes was a tremendous time of building relationships and trust with other believers in the area, as well as praying for specific vision and guidance for this body of believers," said Chris Bryant, a Veritas church member from Holly Springs.
On Jan. 22, Sola 5 Church is planning their first meeting at Connections Event Center across the street from Cary's South Hills Mall. Pastor Todd Wyrick is hoping to attract 50 to 60 people to the first meeting. He described his goal: to "take the message of the gospel and apply it in such a way it changes the lives of others, enabling them to share the message with those God allows them to encounter."