What do Church Buildings Say?

“Church buildings attest to five facts about the church today. First, church buildings are a witness to our immobility. What is more immovable than a church building? And yet Christians are, supposedly, wayfaring pilgrims. Christians are to be a mobile people… Second, church buildings are a witness to our inflexibility. As soon as we erect a church building, we cut down our options by at least seventy-five per cent… Third, church buildings are a witness to our lack of fellowship. Church buildings may be worshipful places, but usually they are not friendly places. They are uncomfortable and impersonal… Fourth, church buildings are a witness to our pride. We insist that our church structures must be beautiful and well-appointed–which usually means expensive–and justify this on the grounds that God deserves the best… Finally, church buildings are a witness to our class divisions. The early church was composed of rich and poor, Jew and Greek, black and white, ignorant and educated. But our modern church buildings advertise to the world that this is not true today. A sociologist can take a casual look at ten church buildings and their denominational brand names and then predict with high accuracy the education, income, occupations and social position of the majority of their respective members” (Howard Snyder, The Problem of Wineskins, IVP, 1975, pp. 69,70,71,72).