There’s a new church of Christ near the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. We found them, ironically, just past the Jimi Hendrix poster and electric guitar mounted outside the entrance of the room in the lower level at the gorgeous Hotel Indigo in downtown Athens. So gorgeous, even including the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, it was the most stunning hotel I’d ever been in. “Take note of all the details of this design, I mumbled to Mark. I want to build something like this.” Ever since I was a little girl, I designed the layout of some farm property. My interest in maintaining a lot of animals has entirely evaporated, but my interest in designing a small home from scratch has become the only grand thing left on my bucket list, though a low priority compared to this present work of helping build the single most beautiful spiritual temple that ever existed, according to the patterns of the Creator Himself - the church of Christ.
As Mark inquired of the concierge the likelihood of our van being towed from the parking lot (which was zero), I photographed the picture of their sign in the lobby of the hotel and recalled a conversation I had had in my early twenties when I was stating the case for little house churches. Among the various meeting places of the early Christians, there were home churches in the Bible, after all. It seems to me a great idea to not waste any of the treasury on the expenses of purchasing and maintaining a church building. Plus, part of me is drawn to the simplicity and cozy feeling of a tiny church family meeting in a cozy home and spending long Sunday afternoons together conversing over potluck lunches. “You do realize that the congregations that purchased church buildings decades ago own buildings that are worth more now than they ever invested in them including interest, right? The amount to even a rent place like they own now, would not be affordable now, if they were just getting started.” Oh. Good point. AND good stewardship with a lot of forethought. Now those groups that have their buildings paid off and don’t have rent to pay, can use the funds to help support both their own preachers and in some cases, other preachers as well.
There appears to be as many advantages to all the options of where a congregation can meet as there are variables for a congregation’s situation. But there’s one advantage to meeting in a busy public place, like this congregation in Athens, Georgia, and that advantage is obviously the likelihood of someone not even looking for restored New Testament Christianity, to stumble upon it providentially because of a sign in a lobby and a couple extra hours open on a Sunday morning --- and that saved soul would be worth much more than the value of a church building.
They’d been meeting for only three months. We had heard about the group from a friend who was considering moving his family to Athens to help them with this new work, a friend we were helping to find financial support for this effort, so it was great to meet many of the members who would benefit, should we be able to find other congregations who could help them finance their preacher.
I had a good conversation with Lisa Reaves who told me about their great efforts around the university to spread truth and how the pandemic had created challenges around that effort.
We were invited to lunch with three other couples and everyone stayed to chat long after I’d finished the big salad I’d been craving. We chatted awhile about traveling, personality types, our Airstream van and such. Then I asked them what they loved and appreciated most about their local church family, they all agreed --- it was their unity and mutual enthusiasm for spreading truth and the way when one brother or sister had a creative idea around this goal, all the others supported it by participating in the idea. This congregation definitely had an energy, focus and allegiance to truth that makes it easy envision the success they deeply desire in being a bright light in this college town.
By the end of our lunch together, they invited Mark to speak for them when we pass through again in the spring after the risk of driving our house around on icy roads has abated. We look forward to more time together and watching their progress as they grow. We said our warm goodbyes and started driving southeast through heavy rain toward a stormy KOA campground in Charlston, South Carolina.
University church of Christ
Hotel Indigo Downtown Athens
500 College Ave
Athens, GA 30601