Someone recently sent me an article with the title “One in six young people are Christian as visits to church buildings inspire them to convert” about a study that indicates that for young people a visit to a cathedral or church building has been more significant in their decision to become a Christian than, say, Youth Alpha or attending a youth group.
The study finds that reading the Bible is important. And church schools are important in facilitating faith. But church buildings have a similar impact.
I have written more than once how important it is that church buildings be open (to say the least, there is the scandal of owning expensive property that is only used for an hour or so a week). Interestingly, the article shows that locked churches are more likely to be burgled than open ones. I have also written about how architecture affects the soul.
Friend and fellow-kiwi-blogger Peter Carrell, writing about this study, says it well:
I leave it to you, dear reader, to make what you will of the stats but if there is something in them then we should revise our cliched formulae about “church is people, not buildings.”
Just maybe, perhaps and possibly church buildings contribute to making church people.
I have drawn the title of this post from a speech of Sir Winston Churchill. We are very used to thoughts akin to “The church makes the eucharist and the eucharist makes the church.” Churchill’s reflection parallels this thought. On 28 October 1943, in a speech whether the House of Commons should be restored after its destruction, Churchill said,
We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.
More than a year ago, I wrote the blog post, Architecture Affects My Soul. There I said,
whilst the church is the people, and the building is there to stop the church (ie. the people) from getting wet – the building affects us as well…
I also encourage interested readers to reflect further on what is placed within the worship space:
- The community – church architecture 1
- The cross – church architecture 2
- The altar – church architecture 3
- The font – church architecture 4
- The presider’s chair and cathedra – church architecture 5
- The ambo/lectern – church architecture 6
- Church facing East – Architectural Design Guidelines 1
- Why churches face East – Architectural Design Guidelines 2
- The altar in architectural design – Architectural Design Guidelines 3
- The baptism font in architectural design – Architectural Design Guidelines 4
And don’t forget the tag “architecture” leads to other associated posts.