What does your church’s architecture say about beauty, worship, and community (and God)?

"Wien - Stephansdom" by Bwag - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wien_-_Stephansdom.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Wien_-_Stephansdom.JPG

“Wien – Stephansdom” by Bwag/Creative Commons

Came across this good read today:

Church buildings are supposed to be about creating an atmosphere that welcomes people and helps them tune in to God. That doesn’t mean going cheap, nor does it necessarily mean going extravagant. It means creating something that connects with your particular community in a way that honors and glorifies God.

A tradition’s view of architecture conveys a lot of beliefs, including ideas about worship, art, beauty, community, and–ultimately–the tradition’s view of God. Your church building may be a cathedral or a pole barn or somewhere in between. There are messages preached in church buildings every week; what message is your building telling visitors and passersby?

I grew up in the Roman Catholic tradition, where architecture tends to point to to the transcendence of God. Many Catholic church buildings are a visual feast. My wife and were in Vienna recently and visited St. Stephen’s cathedral, pictured above. It was striking–and interesting to note that it attracted visitors from all manner of religious (or non-religious) backgrounds.

For the past 20 years or so, however, I’ve worshiped in a tradition that is much more utilitarian in its aesthetic. Form often follows function slavishly (and unattractively). Based on their design alone, do these type of buildings attract curious visitors? Probably not.

To be sure, Jesus had words for things that were pretty outside but rotten inside. But that doesn’t mean something that’s beautiful in appearance can’t also have qualities of beauty inside.

What message is your church building preaching?