Ugly as Sin (Mollie)

There’s a good book on church architecture with that title and it is woefully adequate for describing way too many houses of worship in this country.

And while I’m not sure if the current decade is a low for church architecture (the 1960s and 1970s weren’t so hot, it seems), the current trend of building churches that look like strip malls has got to go.

We’re told by all the “church consultants” that we should drop the beautiful architecture in favor of really “accessible” places, like malls, if we want to attract more visitors. But one research company found that may not be the case:

  • When showed a series of pictures of churches and asked which is most appealing to them, unchurched people chose the most traditional image of all — a Gothic belltower that could be on a medieval cathedral — over more modern designs.
  • This comes at a time when many new churches are being built with all the charm of a Home Depot, plus all the non-medieval creature comforts of malls, hotel lobbies and coffee shops.
  • And it comes at a time when churches are trying to copy Starbucks’ concept of being what sociologists call a “third place” — a gathering spot for people outside of their first two social settings, home and work.

Anyway, I think it’s always a good idea to construct timeless places. Fads — such as Starbucks — are just that. Fads. If you want to be a church for the ages, resist anything trendy. It’s unwise from a stewardship standpoint, it’s environmentally unfriendly to be constantly changing church buildings, and it basically confuses the visitor into thinking you’re something that you’re not. Or, worse, you become the thing that you shouldn’t want to be — a trendy follower of pop culture instead of Christ.

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