Round churches vs. linear churches

Much contemporary church architecture features sanctuaries “in the round,” so that the worshippers can see each other.  Traditional churches are linear, with a sequence of spaces facing the altar.  (Actually, the super-traditional churches are also cruciform, with the congregation coming together in the Cross.)  After the jump, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, a Roman Catholic priest, critiques “round churches” and traces the linear design back to the Bible and its requirements for the Temple and the Tabernacle. [Read more...]

Church design that appeal to Millennials

The Christian pollsters and research company the Barna Group has researched what kind of church architecture and design elements appeal most to the Millennial generation, the 18-29 year-olds that churches are trying hard to reach.

Briefly, the Millennisals much prefer traditional church design, as well as quiet, contemplative spaces, to the auditorium-style sanctuaries with screens and speaker systems that have become popular in the Church Growth Movement.

After the jump, read about the study and see some samples of the findings. [Read more...]

The Most Beautiful Churches

In response to the feature I posted about on the most ugly churches, Michael Sean Winters asked for nominations for the most beautiful churches.  No slide show and just a few links, but go here for some nominations in different categories:  The Most Beautiful Churches | National Catholic Reporter.

These are mostly Catholic churches, except for the Air Force Academy Chapel, but I think there are more beautiful churches than just these, ranging from very traditional to very modern styles.  What are your nominations?  Pictures or links to pictures would be helpful.  And don’t just consider famous churches from noted architects.  Feel free to point to what’s beautiful in your own church. [Read more...]

The Ugliest Churches in the World?

Is your church listed as one of the 35 ugliest churches in the world?  Nicholas G. Hahn, editor at RealClearReligion, has assembled a slide show of what he considers houses of worship that are “bizarre, weird, dumb, and gross. ”  These come from virtually all theological traditions.  Hahn says, “There is something to be said of the effect truly bad architecture has on a worshiper, but that’s for another time.”  We might as well take the time here.  Given that the Word of God can be truly preached in any kind of building, what harm can be done by bad architecture in a church?

For the slideshow go to RealClearReligion – The Ugliest Churches in the World – The Ugliest Churches in the World. [Read more...]

The porta-Church

Church-in-a-box … A Russian military Orthodox chapel

[Read more...]

An architect’s vocation

World Magazine has a  profile of architect David Greusel, who specializes in designing baseball stadiums.  In addition to a fascinating discussion of ball parks, focusing on the one hailed as the best in baseball–Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, which Greusel designed–the article by Janie Cheaney highlights the architect’s Christian faith and his sense of vocation.  This excerpt has wide-ranging implications:

Integrating work with family and faith shouldn’t be controversial, but over the years Greusel has found himself running counter not only to the architectural establishment, but also to certain strains of Christian fundamentalism. In an online essay called “God’s Trailer,” Greusel boldly states that “bad church architecture is as much the result of bad theology as it is of bad design”—meaning that an overemphasis on saving souls has blinded some congregations to the value of nurturing souls. Too many Christians buy into a perversion of the old architectural saw that “form follows function,” seeing their buildings as so many square feet of function with a cross stuck on, instead of a place to direct our attention to God’s glory.

Greusel likes to quote Winston Churchill: “First, we shape our buildings, then they shape us.” He believes the need for Christian architects who bring their worldview to their work has never been greater, for at least three reasons. One, the “creation mandate” (Genesis 1:28) implies that we can continue God’s work on earth by designing spaces that are both useful and beautiful. Also, as creatures made in His image, we honor God by following in His creative footsteps and striving for excellence. And finally, designing (and insisting on) beautiful buildings puts us on the front lines of the culture war: Against the dreary functionalism, commodification, and standardization of concrete boxes, our buildings can reflect both the glory of God and the humanity of man—whether their primary function is to encourage worship or to showcase a perfect double play.

via WORLDmag.com | All-star architecture | Janie B. Cheaney | Jun 30, 12.

Read Greusel’s entire essay God’s Trailer.  The contradiction he cites–”fundamentalists” buying into the dogmas of the “modernists”– is very telling.  By the same token, some of the biggest critics of pop culture are insisting on pop music in their worship.  And theological “conservatives” are arguing that the church must conform to the culture, the textbook definition of theological liberalism.


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