Earlier this week I attended what a church calls their “Theology on Tap” series. In it, they host a speaker at a local tavern, invited friends and family, and basically spent 2 hours drinking, eating, and talking Christianity. It was quite enjoyable at many levels, but the thing I’ve thought most about was the effect of place on Christian gatherings.
You see, this was an Episcopal church, and while I have not been to their Sunday services, I’ve been to enough Episcopal services to appreciate how solemn and generally not-rowdy they are. In contrast, the other night was a bit rowdy and lots of casual fun.
I know that there are people who put a lot of thought into the structure of church spaces, and this makes me glad that they do. It seems that getting the space right is very important and worth spending some money on.
Even in my teaching I have seen the effects of space. In the past 8 years or so I’ve had two classes fall flat, and both met in old fashioned rooms on campus–seating all on one level and rectangles with the longest dimension going from front-to-back (which, I believe, is the layout of most churches). In fact, the second time it happened, I realized what was going on, and I switched classrooms after three weeks to one with arena-style seating, and within minutes the whole tone of the class changed.
So, perhaps all some churches need is a change in space and, perhaps, beer on tap.