Making Sense of Traditional Church Buildings in a Modern, Post Covid World
Why do churches need buildings at all?
Some say that a church can use any building. Some churches do. Hillsong London have met for years in the Dominion Theatre in London’s west end. They had to run several services every Sunday with queues around the block for each one. That was before lockdown at least. Indeed, the largest growing church denominations are using school halls and warehouses, not historic buildings. Yet, we are God’s temple; not the Gothic stone traditional church. 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that “you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you.” Yet, what Covid has taught us is that meeting together is something very special. People have been craving it, and what better way than to worship God together?
There is a lot to be learned from the Covid period.
During the lockdowns, people have found themselves thinking about God much more than before. A lot more have joined the online services than used to attended church. This is great news for the church body. Attendance is rising, even if it is online. Will all those people come to church or will there still be virtual church? Actually, there are many churches who are fitting permanent live streaming technology now, planning for a future when many people, possibly from all corners of the world can tune into their services.
Could it be that there are members of our community who simply can stay connected to the Church community online and engage with God and His word on screen? After all, there is plenty of Christian content online and on TV. There are so many channels on TV, including SKY Religion. Much of it is very good. It is a lifeline for so many, including to those in countries where Christian worship in public is prohibited.
The continuing value of traditional church buildings.
The Guardian is fighting the corner for the maintenance and retention of traditional church buildings within our communities. Andrew Edwards writes, “In addition to their role as places of worship, church buildings are valuable resources for the whole community, used and cherished by people regardless of their religion.” Try to change one, and there may well be an uproar from people who seldom (if ever) attend church. It shows, though, how deep Christian faith is embedded into the British culture. However, they do need to be made fit for purpose in the modern age. People need and expect effective heating, lighting, and indoor plumbing. No one is still using outside toilets and living without heating at home. Adaptation and alteration were never questioned until the 20th century. Without it, today, our beautiful buildings will be destined to be museums only, with no one to pay for them.
How can we use technology in the adaptation process today?
The Guardian goes on to say that “Church buildings are still very much at the heart of communities and when given the chance to flourish, their impact can be far-reaching.” What are churches doing now then, to make themselves fit for the shift in attendance patterns? A warm welcoming place with decent lighting, toilets and hospitality facilities are now essential. But what else does the likes of Hillsong have? They use wonderful, high-quality, modern music, and the full suite of Audio-Visual technology to act as the communication for God’s word. It is by no means just hype, as some might say cynically. We are used to TV, and choice, and quality. More visual church services, more widely spread, might be just what the modern church needs. It sticks out a mile. Many people today, just don’t get a positive experience from church. Using the tools of darkness, cold, and gloom, delivered in antiquated language, which is inaudible, and having people seated on rock-hard, oak benches, is not really the way to teach about the love, joy, and splendour of God. What is the church going to do to tempt people away from the quick fix of Netflix, into the joy of eternal life? Using the same technology for the delivery of the truth and the eternal blessing of Gods word is the obvious answer.
Is your church building fit for purpose? Can it accommodate the new technologies that many churches are embracing? Is it fit for many functions and uses? Churches need to be dynamic, and ever growing; adapting and listening to their communities to stay relevant and serve God’s purpose effectively. Get in touch with us about how JBKS can work with you to make your church reach its full potential and meet the demands of the modern day.