The Gospel And Architecture

The purpose and duty of a church is to preach the full Gospel, purely and powerfully, and to minister to the needs of its people. But a congregation should also realize that the architecture of its building or buildings is a matter of Gospel.

I don’t wish to imply that the responsibility of a church is to proclaim the virtues of fine building, or that salvation is dependent upon good architecture. Salvation is a free gift of God through faith in Christ. It seems to me, though, that when salvation comes, when our lives are transformed by a renewing of our minds after we have offered our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, as we work out the implications of our salvation, as we grow in the fear and knowledge of the Lord, then all aspects of our lives are subject to renewal: our work, our play, our social lives, even our architecture. This renewal is not a condition for our salvation; it is rather an expression of our thankfulness for it.

Having said all this I want to repeat that the architecture of the Church is neither irrelevant nor unimportant; it is a matter of Gospel. The building that a church occupies and the furnishings within it either reinforce or contradict what the church preaches. I am sure that this is why God himself was the architect of the Tabernacle of the Israelites (Exodus 35 through 39). Architecture is not to be ignored or left only to the elite and artistically sensitive. All Christians should strive to live aesthetically as well as theologically obedient lives as part of their service to God.

There are some signs that churches are increasing in awareness of the relation of church architecture to their message. New church buildings as often as not seat the congregation in circular, ...

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