Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursdays theological thinking .... the church building

I have never really given much thought to the building a church meets in and what impact this has. I know all have their pros and cons. I have been thinking about this a bit today as we had an interesting discussion at bible study this morning as to whether God holiness has been lost over the last few generations. Church has become a lot more of a casual affair. God is seen more as our friend in the pew rather than someone we stand in awe and reverence of. Is this in part due to the change in the look of our churches? We no longer have as many impressive catherdals. Many churches (like mine) meet in school halls.

There is something about walking in to a large cathedral that silences you. Maybe it is the size that dwarfs you and makes you realise you are tiny compared to God. Our forefathers had this weekly reminder when they attended beautifully ornate large churches. There was something different about Him that ellicted our respect, He was set apart from the people. But this also meant that God was not approachable, not attainable.

In modern times maybe we have gone too far the other way. We focus on the fact that we have a personal relationship with God, we have an intimate daily relationship with him. This gives us a sense of familiarity that can make us foget that God is not like our friends. He is loving and caring and wants us to be happy but he is also our judge, all knowing, all powerful, all merciful. He is not like us, He is holy. This requires a different response than how we relate to our friends. Does meeting in a hall promote a sense of casulness with God?

Is finding the balance between God's holiness and his intimate love for us a modern dilemma for the church that is reflected in the biuldings we meet in? Do you find the where you go to church affects how you view God? If you dont believe in God then what do you make of churches that meet in schools/halls etc?


  1. You should read that book that Coo has raved about: Pillars of the Earth. I think you would find a few of your answers there. x

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  3. My husband was brought up going to church every week and bible studies during the week. I was as far from that as could be possible.

    Now - as someone fairly new to religion, I feel that it is far less 'daunting' if the meeting place is casual. I don't think that it means that my relationship with God is casual however. I don't know if I make sense, but I just feel that in a less formal place of worshop I am able to freely ask the questions I need to, that I am able to truly listen and take in what is being said and taught to me. It is more relaxed and informal which makes me (as a new comer) more relaxed about understanding the relationship I have with God. For me, church shouldn't be something to be nervous about - but in the huge catherdrals I always feel as though I have keep my kids quiet and not make a sound or cough. I spend my time worrying more about that than actually listening to the sermon. I think for me it has a big impact of building my relationship with God and understanding all that He is and does. I wonder if this makes any sense at all? LOL

  4. Good post.
    When I am quiet in an ornate church, it is more out of respect to the older generations than to God. I don't think I feel any closer to God or see more of his character, but the quietness does remind me to pray, I guess.
    I notice that you don't have to be quiet in libraries anymore, so I think pretty soon there won't be any quiet places left in peoples' lives.