Prof. Decker is professor of Practical Theology in the Protestant Reformed Seminary and a member of Georgetown PRC.
We thank and praise God tonight for making it possible for us to have this beautiful building. When we held our first worship service (and it was my privilege to conduct that service) on September 5, 1993 in the gym of Bauer Elementary School, none of us dared to think that within the next five years we would number over one hundred families and be able to build this building. Even when we were organized on March 2, 1994, none of us charter families ever thought this would be possible. But the Lord made this possible. The Lord gave us elders, deacons, and a minister. He gave us growth both spiritually and in number. The Lord gave us the means, the will, and the ability to construct this church.
Some people, and they mean well, are critical of those who build beautiful church buildings. I’m not one of those. God’s temple in Jerusalem was a very costly and beautiful building. That a congregation cares about her worship and desires to worship in a beautiful and appropriate building is commendable.
Nevertheless, we all know, and we must not forget this, the building does not make the church what she must be as a manifestation of Christ’s body. A congregation mayhave a marvelous building, a state-of-the-art sound system, a good organ and piano, and all the rest, but if that congregation is not doing what God calls her to do, and if she’s not being what God wants her to be as a manifestation of Christ’s body, the building and its furnishings mean nothing! By the same token, if the congregation is faithful to the Lord’s will for her and is doing what God calls her to do as a manifestation of Christ’s body, she can worship in a barn (as did our mother congregation, Hudsonville PRC, in her early history), a field, or a house, and she is still the church of Jesus Christ!
What happens in the building is what makes the church the church. And what must happen in this building by God’s grace is the worship of the Lord God as regulated by the Word of God. Involved in that worship is a votum, or salutation, at the beginning and a benediction at the end. In between, the congregation sings the Psalms, brings her needs to God’s throne of grace in prayer, contributes to the offerings, hears the law read as both the teacher of her misery and the guide for her life of gratitude to God, confesses her faith. There is as well the administration of the two sacraments instituted by Christ: Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
But lying at the very heart of that worship must be the faithful preaching of the Word of God! This is the means God has provided by which His voice in Christ is heard. It is the chief means by which God blesses us with His grace so that we know Him in Christ and by His Spirit as the God of our salvation. And knowing Him we thankfully worship and adore Him and live the new and godly life.
Preaching, therefore, is the chief mark distinguishing the true from the false church! To that great end we dedicate this building tonight as the place where God is pleased to fellowship with us by means of His Word! This is the place where on the Lord’s Day and on other special services we come to meet the Lord! May we by His grace be faithful to this great purpose and worship our God in spirit and in truth.