Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Churches and Architecture: Round or Linear?

One blogger I follow on Patheos's Evangelical Channel reposted a recent editorial from the Catholic Channel. I use the word "editorial" precisely because this article seems a bit like a tirade that assumes a few things, especially about the common churchgoer's supposed frustration with "round" church facilities (seemingly defined as anything other than linear seating arrangement, including amphitheater-like settings). He shows pictures of some modern churches and their amphitheater-like seating arrangements and writes:

Have you noticed that nobody loves modern churches? Nobody. I mean NOBODY.

Seriously. Have you ever met anyone who sees a church like this and and heard them whisper, “I just love that church! It is so inspiring!”.

No. Never.

Have you ever gone into a “worship space” like this and heard someone say how awed they were to be in the presence of God? I doubt it.  

That’s because these buildings were not designed to inspire awe or to remind you about the presence of God. They are people centered, not God centered. They are auditoria, not temples.

You can read the rest here. He does bring up some points from Old Testament temple construction and Roman Catholic history. Architecture is also a form of art with which we worship, like music. Like music, architecture in the church must always deal with the balance of aesthetic and function. Like music, architecture in the church has suffered centuries of debate over what God's plan and use for it really is. And, like music, the debate of architecture in the church really seems tangential when we think of the churches of pre-Constantine Rome or modern China.

What are your thoughts on church architecture and how it does or does not affect our communion with God on Sunday morning gatherings?