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Church Building Sucks

May 16, 2007 by

Here’s a post with no answer. I was browsing through a list posted by Andy at Think Christian, and he linked to Neatorama’s post, 10 Divinely Designed Churches. This stirred up a question building in my mind for quite some time.

At last year’s Catalyst Conference, Donald Miller talked about church design then and now. He discussed the differences in the geometry and architecture of Renaissance churches compared with contemporary churches. Essentially, with an illiterate society, churches had to present God through symmetry and beauty of design, and with our modern, corporate society, churches tend to look like businesses.


This is the question I still wrestle with: What should a church look like? Should churches spend millions of dollars building monumental works of art to God? Should churches build hideous boxes with gray folding chairs to save maximum money to give maximum money?

The Crystal Cathedral, which is on the list linked above, is obviously a specimen in incredible architecture. It is also incredibly effective. Mars Hill Bible Church, on the other hand, is the definition of bland. It, too, is incredibly effective.

Sometimes I long for the beauty and majesty of Rome, but maybe that’s what heaven is for. Other times I lament the seemingly infinite over-spending of gaudy cathedrals, but maybe I’m being too idealistic.

What do you think? Do church buildings suck? Is there even an answer to these questions? Maybe each community has a different perfect church. I don’t have the answers, but I hope we’re asking the right questions.

Post By:

Joshua Cody


Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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43 Responses to “Church Building Sucks”

  • Kelly
    May 16, 2007

    I think when people use the gifts God has given them to glorify Him, it is beautiful. Skilled musicians who play for His glory, artists who paint their redemption…you name it. Why should architecture be any different? God has obviously gifted these architects, designers, and craftsmen with incredible talent. I think it is awesome that they have used that to make His name famous.


  • brad
    May 16, 2007

    “Why not build a church that looks like a church?” It was a comment made by a non-Christian about the big-box church I attended at the time. Well it’s a noble goal, but I think you’ve touched on how hard it is to address.
    Am I ever on the fence on this one! I’ve seen ‘cathedralesque’ buildings that are so glitzy that the space has become unbelievably tacky. I’ve seen conservative (bland) designs that are elegantly functional and versatile.
    I think that there’s no perfect model for the building. As with most things, it comes down to purpose — if purpose is put first, then the building can be excellent no matter what it looks like.


  • Anne Jackson
    May 16, 2007

    I think an interesting thing to look at is the history of the European church. How they built massive cathedrals/sanctuaries because thousands would come worship. On our trip to Scotland we saw the tragedy of post-church culture…now 50 people sit in a church which used to hold 1500. Sadly, American history has trended a couple hundred years or so behind Britain, and I just wonder, and hope and pray, that we will not have big, empty sanctuaries (or stadiums) in 250 years…


  • Gloria
    May 16, 2007

    What I think is most interesting about what you said is that our society, while becoming more and more informed, I think is trending toward (and has been for a while) a much more aesthetic and visually stimulated one– much more like illiterate societies of yore than the functionalism of the 80′s and 90′s that gave rise to “bland” church buildings.
    It was important in such a society to be functional and minimalist as much as it was the job of older churches to entice by design. The Church should fit into the culture but NOT into the world and finding the balance of communicating effectively and wasting money is a delicate one.
    For this kind of issue I don’t think there is a definitive answer, only predictions on trends and suppositions about the why and how.


  • Erickyp
    May 16, 2007

    Can you imagine the splendor of the tabernacle in the middle of the desert? Here are these former slaves camping in the desert and right smack dab in the middle of their campground was this huge tent with ornate fixtures, fine linens, and pure gold all built and fabricated by the most skilled craftsman of their time. The same craftsman who honed their skills on the temples and idols of Pharroah now using their gifts for this incredible oasis of wealth dedicated to God in the middle of a hostile wilderness.
    Who told them to build it that way anyway? How do we apply that now?


  • Gloria
    May 16, 2007

    Also, I think it’s prudent to note that the feeling of older churches is important to remember.
    Every time I have walked into huge cathedral churches (my experience is mostly in Mexico and Europe)I have gotten a sense of the awesome presence of God such as I have rarely gotten in merely the *buildings* of newer American Churches.
    There is something to be said for the reverence and recognition of the awesome holiness of God that they create within the individual.


  • Gloria
    May 16, 2007

    Wow Erickyp and Anne.
    What fantastic points!


  • Jason of "Kim & Jason"
    May 16, 2007

    Tough question. I’ve always believed that churches should aid in the worship experience. One of the reasons the old churches were so ornate and large and decadent is that they were trying to communicate a sense of the divine here on earth. But it’s a fine line between that and wasting money on stuff that just doesn’t matter.
    Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    Maybe a good application of that quote to this situation would be, “You should spend as much money as it takes to make the space as beautiful as possible, but not a dollar more.”


  • Jason of "Kim & Jason"
    May 16, 2007

    Tough question. I’ve always believed that churches should aid in the worship experience. One of the reasons the old churches were so ornate and large and decadent is that they were trying to communicate a sense of the divine here on earth. But it’s a fine line between that and wasting money on stuff that just doesn’t matter.
    Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    Maybe a good application of that quote to this situation would be, “You should spend as much money as it takes to make the space as beautiful as possible, but not a dollar more.”


  • Jason of "Kim & Jason"
    May 16, 2007

    Tough question. I’ve always believed that churches should aid in the worship experience. One of the reasons the old churches were so ornate and large and decadent is that they were trying to communicate a sense of the divine here on earth. But it’s a fine line between that and wasting money on stuff that just doesn’t matter.
    Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    Maybe a good application of that quote to this situation would be, “You should spend as much money as it takes to make the space as beautiful as possible, but not a dollar more.”


  • Jason of "Kim & Jason"
    May 16, 2007

    Tough question. I’ve always believed that churches should aid in the worship experience. One of the reasons the old churches were so ornate and large and decadent is that they were trying to communicate a sense of the divine here on earth. But it’s a fine line between that and wasting money on stuff that just doesn’t matter.
    Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    Maybe a good application of that quote to this situation would be, “You should spend as much money as it takes to make the space as beautiful as possible, but not a dollar more.”


  • Jason of "Kim & Jason"
    May 16, 2007

    Tough question. I’ve always believed that churches should aid in the worship experience. One of the reasons the old churches were so ornate and large and decadent is that they were trying to communicate a sense of the divine here on earth. But it’s a fine line between that and wasting money on stuff that just doesn’t matter.
    Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    Maybe a good application of that quote to this situation would be, “You should spend as much money as it takes to make the space as beautiful as possible, but not a dollar more.”


  • Jason of "Kim & Jason"
    May 16, 2007

    Tough question. I’ve always believed that churches should aid in the worship experience. One of the reasons the old churches were so ornate and large and decadent is that they were trying to communicate a sense of the divine here on earth. But it’s a fine line between that and wasting money on stuff that just doesn’t matter.
    Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    Maybe a good application of that quote to this situation would be, “You should spend as much money as it takes to make the space as beautiful as possible, but not a dollar more.”


  • Matt
    May 16, 2007

    I think the architecture of a church should reflect what it values. If your greatest value is worship, your worship center should be designed specifically for sound quality and media effectiveness. If your focus is children, your building should have a remarkable children’s area where various architectural elements emphasize size orientation and color and texture eutilization. The church I am a part of is struggling with this issue because several years ago the sanctuary (worship center) was designed by an architect who just wanted the building to look nice. In reality what he did was ruin the sound quality of our worship center, where worship is one of great experiences. I think buildings can look great without taking away their real purpose. Functionality is key, but people also need something that is aesthetically pleasing.


  • Alison
    May 16, 2007

    Thank you all for your thoughts! This was (and still is) a topic of much debate at our church in recent years. We went through a multi-million dollar remodel a few years ago to update our sanctuary. The look and feel is much more open, flexible and media friendly, all of which have helped enhance the new, blended, worship style we’re embracing.
    However, we still spent over a million dollars… my heart flutters a bit to think of what we really could have done in the community or even globally with that money. But our visitor and retention rates are way up… which one counts for more?
    Well, my original thought was that the problem was our very traditional sanctuary built with the trends of the 1950s in mind. Maybe if we start designing spaces that are more flexible to begin with (while adding as much in the way of aesthetics that can happen as an organic part of the design), we won’t have the remodel problem of the future. Plus, with spaces that are more minimalistic to begin with you can use those amazing artists, woodworkers, children, etc to create a space that becomes even more beautiful with time.
    I think God likes beautiful things… he could have created the world to be flat and boring, but instead he spared nothing when it came to beauty…


  • Tim
    May 16, 2007

    I’m not ususally “that guy”, but I would like to throw this one out there:
    “the house to be built for the LORD should be of great magnificence and fame and splendor in the sight of all the nations…” – 1 Chronicles 22:5
    Now that was talking about the Temple, but I think that does give some insight and an interesting angle to this convo.
    That’s my $.02


  • Jason of "Kim & Jason"
    May 16, 2007

    Tough question. I’ve always believed that churches should aid in the worship experience. One of the reasons the old churches were so ornate and large and decadent is that they were trying to communicate a sense of the divine here on earth. But it’s a fine line between that and wasting money on stuff that just doesn’t matter.
    Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    Maybe a good application of that quote to this situation would be, “You should spend as much money as it takes to make the space as beautiful as possible, but not a dollar more.”


  • not_ugly
    May 16, 2007

    Charlie Rose, no stranger to controversy, wrote “Ugly As Sin: Why They Changed Our Churches from Sacred Places to Meeting Spaces” to protest how ugly modern churches have become.
    http://www.amazon.com/Ugly-As-Sin-Churches-Forthright/dp/1928832369/
    Worst example is the San Francisco Cathedral. Designed by a Buddhist architect, it is locally referred to as a giant washing machine aggitator. And also as “The buddhist’s revenge”.
    http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/nervi/frontangle.jpg
    Part of the problem is the secular nature of the architects today whose history doesn’t extend past Le Corbusier. None of them can tell a Narthex from an Apse.


  • Chris Huff
    May 16, 2007

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that it’s different for each community. For some, the architecture will point to the awesomeness of God. For others, it will be a distraction. Either way, it’s important to keep the main thing the main thing.


  • Geoff Brown
    May 16, 2007

    There is a very good book out there called “Re-pitching the Tent” or something similar. I read it a few years ago, and loaned my copy out, never to be seen again.
    My feeling is that anyone charged with making a major structure decision ought to be familiar with the contents, at least.
    Just my thought!


  • st. Mars
    May 16, 2007

    Yep, I like the idea of different designs for different purposes. I would like to see more churches built like an upscale mall; who hates going into a mall…..open spaces with benches & plants….lots of places to meet & converse (not all cramped & ‘utilizing every space’). I also think that some churches should have a spiritual ‘Emergency Entrance’…like a hospital, where people feel free to come in & get help. Anyway…..


  • Dave Jones
    May 16, 2007

    An article about a church building? I think the focus is in the wrong place. People do not get excited about a building. When people are on fire they will come watch you burn. It is never about the building, its about the speaker. Yes the building needs to be nice, however impressions need to focus in on the speaker not the bulding


  • Paul Morgun
    May 16, 2007

    I would have to agree with you, I long for beauty of Orthodox churches that I saw in Ukraine, but feel winded when I see Mega constructions, in the west…am I just jaded by the west…I don’t know maybe i am just not interested in modern construction…


  • Lex
    May 17, 2007

    I work mostly in research for an architectural firm that almost exclusively designs Christian churches, so this conversation is one I often come across.
    I think the building very much depends on the community its in. Our company spends months talking to church leaders, volunteers, and members to determine what they need their facility to do – and it’s different almost everywhere.
    The challenge recently is creating a struture that will appeal to the un-churched. Our society is increasingly post-Christian, so if the Church is going to do what she’s meant to do (reach the lost) everything about a local church needs to work to that end.
    Which is why I have to respectfully disagree with Dave. It would be nice if the focus was all on the speaker, but realistically it’s not. It takes – on average – three seconds for a new visitor to decide if he’s going to return to a particular church the following weekend. He’s not even beyond the welcome area in that time.
    I don’t think it’s coincidence that this discussion is happening on a blog about church marketing, either. In most of the churches we’ve worked with recently, we have included a cafe-style space in their facilities. Every one has been a successful outreach tool for those ministries.
    Just a few thoughts.


  • Akash
    May 17, 2007

    Speaking of churches that looks like businesses, check out Buckhead Church’s new building: http://flickr.com/photos/20323427@N00/sets/72157600157838577/ (not my pictures).
    Since the church is located in a business area, the building was designed to match the surroundings.


  • Tammie
    May 17, 2007

    My husband and I visited Mars Hill for several months when our home church went to Saturday night services. It was quite a neat experience (love the atmosphere). Their building is nothing fancy but it does the job. I actually think that in a super unchurched city like Seattle, a building like Mars Hill’s might have the potential to attract more people. I think that some non-Christians can feel out of place and threatened going to a church that looks like a church, whereas going to a church that looks like a warehouse might not be so bad.
    Our church doesn’t have a building so we’ve been hopping all around for the past few years (theater, church building, school). Our best attendance was in the theater, and our worst was in the church building. I would love to see our church move into a warehouse full time.
    While I don’t think that there is anything wrong with a gorgeous church, I think that what really matters is the hearts of the people that attend the church. If they’re more focused on building a building than winning souls, that’s a problem.


  • TattooPastor
    May 17, 2007

    I really like the tone of each congregation finding an appropriate look for their context. Grace is a wonderful thing.
    I am a little shocked at two things however – the laziness of calling a building the church. The church is always (and only) the people. That’s not a little thing – that is the thing. Buildings are just buildings – even if they are beautiful and help facilitate worship. That is why this conversation gets muddled. It’s like when we say ‘worship’ but we mean the music. Music just facilitates worship.
    The second thing is the appeal to the Old Testament. I think that it has no relevance for the New Covenant community. It’s kinda why the Old one was done away with. We romanticize these European Cathedrals that have no living congregation and no impact on their culture. Maybe this is a result of putting so much into the building because they thought is was the church instead of the living stones.
    This is definitely a conversation worth having though!!


  • TattooPastor
    May 17, 2007

    I should probably mention that we just built a new building – a nice little metal number – in a warehouse distict out by the highway. We call it ‘the facility’.
    I just found out that it won an award for design – ‘on a budget’ was the category I think :) Here is the article they (not we) wrote. http://www.munterenterprises.com/data/content/view/98/41/


  • Brian
    May 17, 2007

    Don Miller spoke on the same thing at the recent LeadNow Conference in DC. It was interesting indeed.


  • historybit
    May 17, 2007

    >They built massive >cathedrals/sanctuaries because >thousands would come worship.
    Um, they didn’t worship the way you think they did. For one, they didn’t have just one service where the entire congregation was focused on one unified mass together. Instead, there were multiple altars along the walls. In a 12 altar building, you could have 12 different services going on at the same time. People would gather outside the church entrance. When enough people were gathered together, a priest would lead a procession to an altar to start his mass and the next priest would start waiting for the next batch of people to gather. It worked well enough in a world before clocks were invented. And they didn’t have chairs or pews yet. They stood the entire mass. So service lengths were shorter.
    The Patrons paying for the building tend to have the largest say in how a building looks. And that early form of tourism, pilgrimage, provided the local businesses serving tourists incentive to make their local church a “destination” church that tourists would want to see as part of their journey. Even today tourists go out of their way to admire them.
    Other than the California Missions with their El Camino Real route,
    http://missions.bgmm.com/index.htm
    http://www.californiamissions.com/links.html#topten
    I can’t think of any American churches banding together to promote a pilgrimage route between them or making making much effort to become a destination church. Which seems a missed opportunity.


  • The Aesthetic Elevator
    May 17, 2007

    Posted here earlier, but not seeing my post now.
    Some comments from an interview I found a few months back with architect Daniel Lee:

    • The architecture that churches are building today is as confused as the tastes, and faith, of building committee members. Building committees, or other deciding powers, want inexpensive construction that solves basic functional needs. As they select their architect, they are often most concerned with how many churches he has designed, or whether he is well known. It would be nice if he is a believer but they are looking, first, for a safe choice. They feel inadequate to assess philosophical or artistic aspects inherent in their task and simply hope for the best. The results we are seeing are disappointing, and the church is missing important opportunities to create significant new architecture.During two thousand years of Christianity our most important buildings were houses of worship. However, after World War II the church no longer seems able to build churches that are beautiful, commodious, and durable.
    • It is important to remember that before the Modern period, works of art were often loaded with meaning as we expressed our understanding of the relationship between transcendent Truth and daily life, and this is the mindset Christians must reclaim.
    • We hear concerns in the church over the influence of the mass media today, but very little concern about the impact of the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture. What is the role of church architecture in Christianity?Church architecture serves to frame and enhance our worship, in a way that honors the One we worship.
    • So, in constructing churches today, which are often fairly banal or functional at best, what are we saying about the church’s participation in the public square?
    • One age-old concern is how we can spend all this money on a church building when there are so many poor and so many who have not yet heard the gospel.Events surrounding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales illustrate my thoughts on this. To express their grief over her passing, the public spent over $40 million on flowers alone. She was a living symbol of important virtues to many people around the world. Could you ever justify on practical grounds alone such an expense? Of course not.
      But, this was a spontaneous expression of affection and sorrow from peoples’ hearts toward one they loved. Should not our expressions of love for our Savior be of a much greater kind?
    • To be made in the image of God means to be creative and artistic. Our places of worship should be beautiful works of architecture. 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. Our churches should help us focus our spirits on God in worship. Let our worship be a spiritual love feast, and may our banquet hall be appropriate to a King.
    • Worship is the work of acknowledging the awesome greatness of our God. It is not passive. An architect tries to celebrate this greatness through a strategic integration of Christian symbols, works of art, and fine materials. He orders these components using the design elements of axis, symmetry, geometry, space, color, texture, proportion, scale, light, pattern, line, point, and counterpoint. His objective is to convey a sense of the majesty, glory, and presence of God.

  • Jessica
    May 21, 2007

    This is a perfect example of how the church in America has lost its mission. My church for example built a beautiful church, not extravagant, but artistic. We are now in terrible financial debt. As a result, we can give less now to the the work of missions. Missions is why the church exists. We do not exist for a building.
    You should see the church buildings in Costa Rica, Nepal, India, Jordan, and China. They are empty concrete rectangles or they don’t have a building at all. The underground believers in China meet in houses, in the woods, in apartments. A building is not necessary because it is the people who are the church and amazingly they are functioning as the church is supposed to function. They have sold out their lives to Christ.
    Why do we need buildings here in America? It’s complicated but mostly because here in America that’s the extent of what most Christians do: meet on Sunday. Period.
    There is a church in California that is ready to add on, but guess what they are going to do. Instead of spending millions on a building they are going to have an outdoor ampitheater that can be used by the community as well. They will then use the money they would have spent on a building instead on mission work. Now that church has its priorities right.


  • noah
    May 21, 2007

    Thank you Jessica! Why do we need a building to make us think of the Glory of God? Has anyone seen the giant mountains lately or the peaceful lakes, the bountiful plains, the expansive oceans, the blue sky, the wind through the whistling trees, the explosive sun, moon, and stars? Have we lost our sight of God’s book of nature?
    The first and most important commandment is to love God, people, and yourself. Why not save money on the building and use that money to start programs that assist and empower people in the community?
    In John 21:17, (NIV) Jesus talks bluntly to Peter; “The third time He said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
    Is the body of Christ the Church? Then what good is an expensive building? God absolutely gave people great gifts of creativity. How about using this great creativity to find a way to build a decently attractive, sturdy building while spending the least amount of money possible? In Salt Lake City, I had the pleasure of attending a church that was in an old warehouse. The reason they were in an old warehouse is because they want their money to be used more strategically to serve God and others. The church is booming and they are engaging the culture while holding God’s truths.
    Take a look; K2 The Church in Salt Lake City, Utah.


  • Fred
    May 22, 2007

    Of all the great advancements the fundamental church has given us, they have taken away the wonder of God’s majesty. In response to the over-reliance of icons and symbols of the Catholic Church, modern-day Protestants have removed them all. I would think of all blogs, this would be one that would get the importance of the place of worship.
    The church building is as much marketing as the signage outside. How many churches have you been to where the focus on the pulpit? Yes, we should be Bible-based, but our focus should lead to Christ. Let’s don’t blow the wad, but let’s use everything to speak to the wonder and glory beyond ourselves.
    Whether in word or deed, let’s do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.


  • noah
    May 23, 2007

    Simply because we think as marketers we are sending the correct message through our channel, does not mean that the message we are trying to send is the message the receiver is getting! I know many people who look at big beautiful churches and do not think of the glory of God but of materialism and the glory of the almighty dollar.
    Has God not done a good enough job showing His awesome glory in nature that we need to build palaces? And then, sacrificing money that could be used to glorify Him by loving on people like Jesus commands us to do if we love HIM. John 11:40; Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you, if you BELIEVE you will SEE the GLORY of GOD?”
    John 21:17, (NIV) Jesus talks bluntly to Peter; “The third time He said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” Who are we to build palaces in the name of Jesus when we are not taking care of our sheep?
    The Bible talks about Jesus coming and destroying the Temple and rebuilding it in 3 days. What did He rebuild?


  • myles
    June 19, 2007

    my criteria for a church building is:
    - inviting
    - relevant
    - humble
    - sanctuary
    - functional
    The glory of the Lord is not in grand buildings but in love, meeting people’s needs and being a sanctuary.


  • Dennis
    July 26, 2007

    As an architect and a christian I have thought about this topic quite a bit. while it’s true that our relationship with God has nothing to do with a building, what about pre-believers? The building needs to be relavent to it’s place and time to attact those who don’t know Him. I’ve read the argument here that not building a facility allows funds for the needy & I can’t argue with that. Why should we believe that God is that limited? What if your new facility attacted many new believers and a large number of them went on to attract others? What’s that worth? I’ve also seen the argument to build the cheapest lowest cost facility possible. Do that and you might end up attacting very few pre-christians and continuously repairing your poorly built facility. That’s a waste of God’s money.Make your plans through prayer seeking God’s guidance that’s always relevant at any place and time and you will be sure to do the right thing.


  • nate
    October 11, 2007

    hmmm…seem like ever since Luther there has been a systematic and exponential removal of “stuff” from “church.” Luther took stuff from the RCC, and we all have been taking stuff (and adding a bit here and there) from Luther ever since. True, maybe some stuff, like church buildings were not spoken of by Jesus, but Jesus’ words were penned at the earliest 30 years after his death. IF we take away buildings, what else is left to take away? The actual coming together? I say keep the building. But hey, my opinion has been known to be wrong.


  • Jeff Miller
    October 12, 2007

    I think this blog illustrates the confusion modern-day Christians have about who they are and what they are to be about. If the ‘church’ is the body of believers, and the purpose of believers meeting together on Sunday is for ‘worship’, then the purpose of a building is to facilitate the worship of believers. Its appeal, or lack thereof, to ‘unchurched’ people is irrelevant.
    If the purpose of meeting on Sunday is evangelism, then building a ‘church campus’ is an incredibly ineffective way to accomplish this. We are to go to them, not try and entice them to come to us. We would be better off renting time in malls and theaters, or meeting in parks for this purpose – which would be closer to the model we see in the New Testament where the disciples went to the public square/marketplace to preach.
    Confusing worship and evangelism is one of the main sources of the kinds of ‘barriers’and ‘discomfort’ discussed on this site. It also is one of the single biggest factors in unsuccessful building projects (right behind architects who think functionality is something to be added after the aesthetics have been designed).


  • Kevin Boone
    June 21, 2008

    One thing not mentioned is church planting. I understand that many reasons can exist for building a church building, but one that is commonly mentioned is a lack of room for worshippers. It would be refreshing to see, for example, a thousand member church (I just chose that number, it could be any number) take 200 of those members and send them to an unchurched area and start a new church family that met in an appropriate location to conduct outreach and verbally present the gospel to that community. This could take the place of that 1000 member church expanding or building a new building to accomodate, say, 3000 people (this happens a lot). Some Christians ask me how many people we have attending our church services and I reply,”too many. I wish some would leave and plant other churches.” Maybe this would alleviate some unnecessary building expenses that the church undertakes. I’d be interested in comments on how the lack of church planting has caused unnecessary building projects. Thanks, Pastor Kevin Boone


  • kam
    September 30, 2008

    Odd, i thought we were the Church. Didn’t we meet in houses at the beginning? Not to hide but to live in relationship with one another? Why spend BILLIONS on buildings when we could fix the worlds problems and show them we are really Christians? Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Give the thirsty a drink. Sounds familiar…
    When the world is dying outside our door, we’re talking about carpet and chairs…


  • Arran
    February 22, 2009

    Wow! This post has been around for almost two years now. I just recently found out about churchmarketingsucks.com. I wish I would have been in the midst of this conversation.
    As a Christian and designer (I was trained as an architect) I wonder about this question also. What frustrates me is whenever this conversation comes up, people always seem to compare the cathedrals of old with church buildings today. Philosophically, it is a waste to do so because we operate differently as a society today. We are a product of the industrial revolution. The way we build today is totally different. Second, classical architecture embodied symbols which no longer have any relevance in culture today. A huge part of this latter reason is the result of modernism followed by the post-structuralist movement (ie. postmodernism).
    Another frustration is that there are really great works of church Architecture that we can learn from today that are never discussed in circles outside of Architecture. What about the Chapel of St. Iganatius at Seattle University designed by Steven Holl? What about the Church on the Water by Tadao Ando? What about The Church of Light by Tadao Ando? These are to name a few.
    In regards to the issue of balance, I actually go to a church where we worship in a conditioned tent and use money to give to missions and ministry. I see value on both sides. Good design is inspiring and meaningful, while having a vision to live out the great commission is to – so much so that a church minimizes how much it spends on other things. To me it is an issue of stewardship. We don’t have to play the extremes.


  • Dwight Michael
    October 30, 2010

    The only place that I can find in New Testament Sciputure where a “church” building is mentioned, God rebuked the proposed builders. He didn’t even dignifiy the deciples quetion by responding directly to their question. He simply said ” This is My Son! Hear Him.” (This occured on the Mount of Transfiguration). Why can’t we hear His admonition.



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