In a conversation with one of my Audio Visual Consultant, he stated that he felt a majority of churches in America have become bushel baskets, hiding the light of the Lord within their facility. In Mathew 5:15-16 we are called to let our light shine before others so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven, not hide it under a bushel basket.
I understand that his comment was driven by a number of factors beyond the actual church facility, such as the spiritual maturity and ministry callings of each church. As an architect who specializes in church and church related facilities throughout the United States, his comment gave me pause to consider what effect my work has on fostering his perception. As Christians we are called to go into the entire world and preach the gospel, but too many times we find ourselves within a local church facility – hiding our light. We may have the assumption that the non-churched will suddenly have the urge to walk through our doors to learn the gospel of Christ. But too many times the only people visiting are those who had an issue with their church down the street and are looking for a new, comfortable spot – to hide their light. I felt that with his simple comment my entire calling and livelihood was placed in question! I realized that I needed to take a closer look at the services I offer to churches and the facilities I design to make sure that I was not a key player in perpetuating this condition.
My company was conceived over forty years ago with the express call to establish an architectural firm that would help churches navigate through the process of planning, design and construction of their facilities. Working with them as together we strive to provide the church with the resources that will give them a quality, functional facility to meet their ministry needs and financial ability. This calling comes with a belief that we are designing, not only for the members who have been at the church for the most number of years, who know every nook and cranny of the facility, but also for the first time visitor, (see our article “Open House or Secret Society”). Our objective and hope is to create a pleasant and inviting appearance, welcoming all with accessibility, functionality, and a safe and secure environment. But do our facility designs also enable the churches to interact and reach out to the community and beyond?
Too many churches find themselves sitting in facilities that have become fortresses to the outside world, massive structures built to keep out the evils that lay beyond those solid wood doors. Historically this was required, not only due to the building type available at the time, but also due to the need for the church to be a sanctuary from the warring world around them. But the result of these wonderful monuments to the Lord is the ease with which they allow our light to be hid.
As you look at your church facility ask yourself these questions: Is our church easy to find and visible to the world around? What does the exterior appearance of our church say as a sign to the outside world? Does our church provide a visual openness to the outside world so that they might see the fellowship and interaction of our members? Does our church provide easy, welcoming accessibility for our members and visitors? Does our facility allow outside community groups to easily use it for meetings, providing them access to certain areas while offering facility security to others? Does our church provide on-line sermons and information about our ministries which are current and accurate? Or does our church say “go away, I am hiding my light.”
John W.G. Rosecrans, AIA is the Owner and President of DIMENSIONAL DYNAMICS, Architects and Planners, Inc. located at 455 Old Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, PA 19317. phone: 610.388.0755 fax 610.388.2761 email: firstname.lastname@example.org webpage: www.dimdyn.com