Architecture and Décor Demonstrate Worship Focus
I have written previously on this blog about the visits I have made to church buildings that show, in their architecture and décor, the message of Jesus Christ. Many sanctuaries in cathedral style churches are actually in the shape of a cross. Some churches have paintings, reliefs, sculptures and stained glass windows that show specific aspects of biblical stories or doctrinal truth. For more modern structures, one might see large metal sculptures on the grounds that depict various messages, such as Christ on the cross. In addition, modern churches often have a “flair” that lifts the eyes heavenward built into the experience of the space.
Even though some of the congregations in these churches no longer proclaim the gospel, we find that the very nature of their buildings proclaim the good news. Having been designed in this way, we realize that the designers and architects continue to proclaim the message of Christ – even many years after the building was completed. The fullness of allowing the lordship of Christ show in their work has made that message endure.
In contrast to this, there continues to be a disturbing trend among churches today to make their spaces as common as possible. For the last 40+ years we see church buildings looking more like warehouses, office buildings, and large corporate facilities. There is little in the architecture that helps the passerby know what the buildings are used for, or who resides within.
Beyond this, there are many examples of church structures that continue to look like a traditional “church” on the outside, but upon entering one might discover that every attempt has been made to remove the “churchiness” that might be represented. Black ceilings, covered windows, stage lighting, and an obvious lack of aesthetic display of Christian truth in any way is the trend of the day. It seems that Christians want to do all they can to not appear to be Christians.
Of course, I know all the pragmatic points that are brought into a discussion like this. A Church must be “inviting” for the visitor. The sanctuary must be multi-purpose room. The budget will only support things that are “practical” and useful. Art is a waste of money. On and on it goes.
What this really shows, however, is a significant lack of holistic theological understanding. It does not take long to read through the descriptions of the Tabernacle or the Temple in the Old Testament to discover God’s interest in art – for beauty and creative expression. The very nature of the design of these worship buildings was to say something without using words!
In a Christian Worldview, we must recognize the opportunity being missed. Our architecture and décor can proclaim Christ in ways that we just cannot do with words. Our faith is a full faith, holistically spanning every part of life, not just a faith of words and text and ideas. This is a faith for our eyes as well, but we would never know it when looking at many churches today.
Posted on March 1, 2016, in Architecture, Arts, Christian Worldview, Leadership, theology, Worship Leader and tagged Mark Sooy, theology, worship, worship leader, WorshipThink. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.