Well Diggers vs. Temple Builders

We are well diggers instead of temple builders” is a phrase I heard for the first time from Mel McGowan, president of Visioneering Studios.  The first time I heard it, I needed to have it explained….but once it was, it really resonated with me.

The concept is fairly simple and yet profound.  It is based on the John 4 passage about the Samaritan woman at the well. Most of us that have been around “church” for any length of time, know this story.  We know that Jesus goes to a well in the middle of the day and meets a women with a sorted past and shares life with her by getting a drink of H2O….physical water, and then offers and provides living water…a relationship with Jesus.  I have heard dozens of sermon applications about this story and I am sure you have as well. So how does it apply to church facility development?  This is where it really gets cool.

The concept is that we need to look for opportunities to develop “wells” on our campuses and within our communities and not just temples.  The well is representative of several attributes that I believe the church, as a whole, has not done a great job in providing to our communities.  We have been notorious in building temples…you know, buildings that are used one or two days a week.  Places that people in our community believe you have to act, look and smell a certain way to enter. A place with too many “thou shalt not”  rules, whether  they are real or perceived.

A well on the other hand is a part of the community.  It represents a place that was/is a vital part of  that culture.  People came there 7 days a week to get water…but also to see their neighbor, get caught up on what was going on in each others lives, share concerns and sometimes just hang.  They would do life together.  Not just on the weekend…but every day.

The well was “common place”. It was not a top-of-mind place that the community folk would think of when contemplating a place to “meet God.”  And yet, that is exactly what happened.  This common place become a destination were God meet a women in need of a savior…even though that is not what she was looking for that morning as she heading out to gather water.  They shared conversation.  Shared a drink of water.  Talked about the past, the present and what the future could be.  All of this happened in an environment that felt “common” to the women…just the normal place she went every day…but this was an intentional encounter by Jesus.  He knew he was going to have this encounter.  He used the common place for the extraordinary. Verse 4 of this passage tells us that Jesus “had to go through Samaria”. The fact is, from a physical perspective, there were other routes he could have taken to get to Galilee. But he was intentional about going to Samaria…to have this encounter…to change a life.

But the story of the well did not end there. In vs. 28  it says, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”  They came out of the town and made their way toward him.” The story continued…and the well was a drawing point for other people to come and hear from Jesus.  The women went and hold her neighbors that there was something cool happening at the well and that they needed to come check it out…and they did.  Do you not get excited to see how one “common place” experience…over a glass of water…in a non-temple setting, lead to life change for not only a woman, but for others in her community.

As you think about your church facilities and campus, think about what “wells” you are providing your community for these kinds of encounters and then be intentional to open yourself up to meet people to do life and start a conversation that could change the world.

Read more from Tim here.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Cool

Tim Cool

Tim Cool is the Founder and Chief Solutions Officer of Cool Solutions Group, a company leading organizations to be intentional with the planning, development and life cycle management of the facilities God has entrusted them. Tim has assisted nearly 400 churches over the past 28 years, throughout the United States, with their facility’s needs. Tim has been married to his best friend, Lisa, for 29 years and resides in Charlotte, NC with their 17-year-old triplets. They are active members at Elevation Church.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Tony — 01/24/13 3:55 pm

Fascinating perspective. I like putting this metaphor to use. More and more I am talking to churches in the midst of campus development and they really want to build something that can be used by the community, like sports fields, meeting places, CrossFit workout areas, etc. I think this really sums up the concept well (pun intended).

Recent Comments
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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