“Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it:” Psalm 127:1a
For more than two years now, the Redlands’ congregation has been building a place of worship that we can call our own. This building differs from other churches, in that the majority of the work has been donated by the men of the church. Ordinary men, many with limited construction experience, building a place wherein to worship the Lord. We have donated the majority of our time away from our regular jobs to build a sanctuary that will be enjoyed for many years to come.
Faced with the high construction costs of California and armed with the knowledge that we could build a school for our children in less than 30 working days (the building actually took more than six months to complete, but most of the work was done on Saturdays), we felt that we could also build our own church.
A committee was formed, plans were drawn up, these plans approved by the congregation, and then sent on to the city for their approval. One vital ingredient was missing, however, it was determined that we would need to retain a contractor to advise us on all phases of the building, and ideally, one who would allow us to use his tools. In the Lord’s own magnificent way, He provided us with just such a man and at a very reasonable cost. As it turned out, our contractor agreed to be a full-time employee of the church, devoting much of his time to the task at hand.
Turning this group into builders took much time and patience; it is a safe estimate that everyone has learned some¬thing new about construction. From the digging of the footings to the shingling of the roof, our contractor demanded that we do the very best job that we were capable of performing. This constant pressure for “perfection” caused many tense moments and bruised egos.
From the outset, it was assumed that the building should be completed in one year from the start-up day, twice the time that was needed to build our school. But in a building this size and complexity, the completion date was pushed back from the 50th anniversary of the Redlands con¬gregation—all the way back to late summer 1983. This not meeting up to original expectations was a disappoint¬ment to those who looked forward to the dedication of the church before their wedding or their children’s baptism.
As the building became more and more complex, more and more problems would rise. For as many people that were involved and the number of different opinions expressed, it is a wonder by human standards that anything was ever accomplished. I am certain that except for the common love of Christ in the members of the church, things could have been much worse for a longer period of time. The knowledge of the need for unity in the body of Christ’s church is the necessary ingredient for putting many of these inflated differences back into their proper perspective.
But the building of this church was not without its very positive experiences. The good times far outweigh the bad times. When the huge crane came out to lift the A-frames into place—everyone who could, took the day off work to participate in this milestone. Some memories: the six weeks we poured concrete every morning before going to work; all the gallons of coffee and cold drinks that the women brought and we consumed during the twice a Saturday coffee breaks; and all the joking and kidding around we did in order to make some of the more tedious and boring jobs pass more quickly. Generally, we got to know each other better – we became a more cohesive “family-like” unit. The list of good times goes on and on. And without too much effort we can recall how rewarding an experience this building has been, adding much to the feeling of unity in our congregation.
We knew we wanted to build the best church we possibly could, but oftentimes human nature would get in the way of our goals. It was only by Christ’s love of His church and our knowledge that we would one day complete the building that allowed us to accomplish our goals. Our church has been toured by quite a number of private contractors in the area, either out of curiosity of those looking to subcontract various activities, these out¬siders were surprised by the ingenuity of the scaffolding and the high quality work that was being done by amateurs.
The building of this church could have caused great splintering in the congregation, quite often we were the “weary builders,” but the Lord did build the house, that we will one day dedicate to the worship of Christ. By remembering the good times of the building and forgetting the bad times, our building project has been a positive growing experience. Each one of the members growing more spiritually unified to the other members of the church; growing in their knowledge of themselves, their fellow members and their bond with the Lord.
It has now been over two years in building, and, the Lord willing, will be dedicated by the time of this publication, still the dedication will be quite an evening for all those involved in the building of this House of God.