Why Church Architecture Matters

Its not the outside that matters. Its what is on the inside. Right? How important, then, are church buildings? In an article entitled Buildings Matter Because Bodies Matter, Matt Anderson discusses the importance of architecture in the life of the church:

However much architecture matters, though, its important to note that the evangelical wariness about church buildings has important biblical grounding. Stephen sums up the position in Acts 7 when he reminds the people our God does not dwell in temples made with human hands. (This is a better place to turn, I think, than the argument given by Judas, whom we should always be wary of siding with). The indwelling of Gods presence as a result of Pentecost chastens any pretensions that buildings can pass on or preserve the faith on their own.

At the same time, this indwelling life of the Spirit needs external, visible support to flourish. The life of Christ is poured out in our hearts, but it gets there by way of the body. Reading the Bible or hearing the proclamation of the Word are just as sensory as walking in a church, which is why we attend to the words differently depending on whether we are saying them out loud, listening to them, or reading them. Cut ourselves off from this practice or the other practices of the church, and the fruit inevitably withers on the vine.

Buildings and other forms of human making shape us, then, because our bodies affect our souls as much as our souls affect our bodies. While evangelicals have rightly focused on the interior life, the interior life has a particular shape based on whether and how we present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice. While architecture may not be the main thing for evangelicals, the main thing isnt the only one that matters.

Andersons article is part of a discussion series with contributions from David Gobel, Reforming Church Architecture, and J. D. Greear, We Want to Stay Light and Mobile, Flexible and Ready. All the articles are worth a read.

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