Hello fellow crazies,
I subscribe to a weekly email newsletter called the "Church Leaders Intelligence Report." It is a little tool that helps keep me up on trends in both the Christian and secular worlds and I recommend it highly. Today's edition included the following:
Unchurched Americans prefer churches that look more like a medieval cathedral over contemporary church buildings, finds a LifeWay Research study. Those aged 25 to 34 gave an average of 58.9 of their 100 preference points to the more Gothic church exterior, while those over age 70 gave that option only 32.9 points. 22% said the design of the church would strongly impact their enjoyment of a visit, and 32% indicated it would have some impact. More than a third said it would have no impact. (Christian Post 4/7/08)
After I read this I found myself growing increasingly frustrated. This says that of the people who never darken the door of any church, if they were for some odd reason to decide they wanted to attend a church service (like when pigs start flying), they would look for a building that looks like something from a Dracula movie.
What, for crying out loud, does the facade of the building have to do with what is on the inside? Most of the medieval style church buildings I know of around here are either Catholic, Episcopal, or mainline Presbyterian, most of which are shooting blanks and have little or nothing to offer a seeker after truth. The only Baptist church here in Portland, OR in that style is Hinson Church. The rest of us are just plumb out of luck, I guess.
In the light of these new findings maybe I should start pressuring our building committee to begin plans to put up a false stone exterior on our existing building. We could install some arched doors and windows with a bunch of stained glass. Then the people who never come here to church would be really happy with our new look as they drive by. We could even have some gargoyles made and put them up on each corner of the roof. Then the people who never come through our doors would be thrilled with our new Gothic style. Oh, and don't forget the flying buttresses... they will be a nice touch to make the neighborhood look better. People who never come here would then be proud to stand in front of our church to have their pictures taken.
Of course, it won't make any real difference because all this is theoretical. If they were to decide to visit a church (which they won't) they would certainly never choose to visit one that looks like ours. It resembles a blimp hanger way more than a medieval cathedral. It is built of brick, but we don't have a vaulted ceiling, crypts, nave, niches, narthex, flying buttresses, pointed arches, or most of the other things that people look for in a church, if they were ever to need one, which evidently they don't.
This kind of stuff makes me nuts!
Crazy as a loon,