Church: UK

Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness

Until recently, I was more or less ambivalent to the architecture and decoration of church buildings. If I had a preference it was for the utilitarian, box-like structures of my non-conformist heritage. However, as I grow older, I realise that the surroundings can help me to develop a sense of awe and wonder.

What do you think?

To stimulate your little grey cells, take a look at this thoughtful piece at ThinkChristian.

“It is possible to worship God in a gymnasium or lecture hall, because if people are truly seeking him, God will meet them there. But to worship in such architecture is to suggest that our purpose is either recreational or cerebral. We should build spaces crafted specially for a human-divine encounter with God.”

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6 replies on “Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness”

For the 2 1/2 or so years that we worshiped at St Aldate’s in Oxford, we DID appreciate the beauty of the interior. It did lead us deeper into worship than we would have experienced in a basic rectangular warehouse room.

Is the purpose of church to meet with God and worship him? Or is it for Christians whose lives are about meeting with God and worshipping him, to meet together?

I would maybe argue that the New Testament model is that our lives should be “spaces crafted specially for a human-divine encounter with God”, rather than our buildings.

I agree with everything so far. Lots of things can help us to worship God. We should learn what works for us, and probably keep a certain variety. A broken reed at the edge of a river may help us think of Jesus. But we wouldn’t decide that broken reeds need to be installed in all our meeting rooms. Same goes for mountain tops and old church architecture I reckon.

Living our lives in ways that worship God don’t conflict with this. However all of us that have become frustrated at how building are so central (and the meetings held there) to what our churches are will instinctively feel we need to tell you to stop being so silly I imagine! But we know you are too (frustrated, not silly), so its helpful of you to bring it into the discussion.

It is a bit odd that I should make a post like this because I do think that we put far too much emphasis on our church buildings. But, I can’t deny that, for example, Durham Cathedral does help me get a sense of the enormity of God.

So there is a tension. But in the end, whether or not I’m happy with the building is of less importance than the concern that all to often buildings get in the way of the church’s mission to the community.

Perhaps the medieaval idea of a cathedral or minster in every city as a central place for meeting from time to time makes sense? With individual congregations less tied to their physical structures.

Good idea, but who would run it/own it/be in charge? Churches don’t seem to be very good at giving, they like to retain control (I think they call it stewardship or something). It wouldn’t work. Although I do sense there is more willingness and desire for acknowledging our one-ness so who knows?

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