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Trends in Church Architecture Part 5

Written by Ed Stetzer on . Posted in Ed Stetzer

Can a church building be culturally engaged?

"The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan. This means “the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.” To say it another way, buildings, style, furniture, decor, and landscaping actually communicate. A physical structure can communicate as much as the sermon that is preached inside it.

I believe church buildings can and should be missiologically discerned. It should be a positive representation of the church to the surrounding community. Buildings and property can communicate the goals and priorities of a church before a person in the community ever steps foot inside.

But in order for a church building to be considered an effective missiological tool, church leaders should ask themselves four questions.

Is our building cultural?

At the World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta, GA, you can taste Coke products from around the world. While each drink has the consistency of a soda, each has a distinct taste that makes it unique for the location where the drink is available. All the drinks have universal qualities that are the same around the world, and each individual drink is cultural appealing to its local context.

Church buildings should be the same way. While there will be similarities and consistencies of buildings regardless of the location, each building (inside and outside) should seek to appeal to its local context.

For instance, I recently preached at Johnsons Ferry Baptist Church outside of Atlanta. Aside from their beautiful traditional brick building and their nicely manicured lawn, I noticed they had marble floors from Italy inside their sanctuary. Both the inside and outside seem ...

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