The phenomenon of the warehouse church | Cincinnati Republic

Imagine a world where there are no church spiers scattered across a city skyline, where there are no downtown cathedrals or quaint churches in rural towns. Consider visiting the Middle East without the region’s signature minarets or mosque domes. For societies around the world, places of worship are symbolic symbols of culture, place and people. Other building types serve similar purposes by signaling the culture of a place and representing the values ​​of the residents. Skyscrapers indicate important economic sectors, sports stadiums show a city’s love for its home team, and government buildings are meant to symbolize government principles. Even if we pass a fast food restaurant, we can tell which chain it is without the sign.

As you drive through America’s suburbs, you may notice a number of churches in buildings that don’t look like a typical church. These are nondescript buildings that look like warehouses. Some can look like convention centers, community basketball gyms, or business premises. The insides also often resemble these places. These rooms, which can actually contain high-quality secular interior design, are designed to be functional. They have elevated platforms for people to be the focus of performing music and speaking to the audience. From these stages, strobe lights and fog machines can emerge, like modern stained glass and incense sticks which, when combined with the music, give their believers an emotional high, a feeling that has to fade.

Churches are built this way because they are an inexpensive way to build large spaces. Churches may feel that their money could better be spent elsewhere. And since there is no guarantee of the longevity of their church, they want to build something that can be easily sold and reused, as opposed to traditionally designed churches that can stand in the real estate market for years. They may also believe that having works of art of Christ and other Christian figures is idolatry (a belief they practice every Christmas when they bring out their cribs).

Some would argue that building expensive churches is wrong. The disciples too were concerned when expensive oil was used for Jesus. In Matthew 26: 6-10 we read: “When Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of precious perfumed oil and poured it on his head while he was lying at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were outraged and said, “Why this waste? It could have been sold for a lot and the money given to the poor. ‘ Knowing this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you causing trouble for the woman? She did me good. You will always have the poor with you; but you won’t always have me. ‘”It seems contradicting that the communities with the most warehouses are also the communities where people spend their money on granite countertops, spacious foyers, and expensive clothing. Meanwhile, our nation’s historic beautiful churches have been built by poor immigrants. Only our friends and we use our homes while anyone from all economic backgrounds can enjoy the beauty of a church and be spiritually enriched.

Church architecture should be vertical because what we believe points towards heaven. Churches should point the way, because we are a pilgrim people on the way to holiness. They should include the iconography because the incarnation of Christ proves that matter can convey the divine and because the church building should symbolize the whole church, including the saints in heaven. They should contain a geometric order because God arranged the world perfectly and not chaotically. They should be permanent because our beliefs are strong and permanent.

Christianity is meant to be the foundation of everything we do, an enduring foundation of a never changing and rich truth. Shouldn’t we build churches that reflect that? Warehouses instead reflect change, availability, and cheapness (if people even notice it’s a church at all).
Speaking of truth, it’s inextricably linked with beauty and goodness. People often use the words truth, goodness, and beauty interchangeably. Even real math equations are supposed to be beautiful, and they are certainly good for us. People realize that something ugly doesn’t seem true or good. Something wrong cannot be called beautiful or good, nor is something bad called beautiful or truthful. God is true, beautiful and good. So is our faith. Our churches should reflect this by being beautiful.

In Christianity the words are the same for people and buildings – church. This is because our church buildings are so important to symbolize Christian fellowship. An example of this is the stones of a church, which represent the people who make up the church. Another is columns that represent people in architecture – there are even different column styles to represent different types of people (e.g. men or women). Contrary to popular belief, the early Christians understood the importance of church structures. They used the members’ beautiful homes as churches and built remarkable churches not dissimilar to the temples of the time, even before Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire.

If we adopt the warehouse church ideology, there may not be any visible signs or symbols of Christianity in our communities. Our worship rooms are hidden. It becomes as absurd as Washington DC with the Senate and House of Representatives in a mall or China without Buddhist temples. Nobody will know if there are Christians in our cities. And it will also create boring and plain cities devoid of any signs of culture, character, or beauty. Of course, we spread the love of Christ primarily through our words and actions. But our words and actions convey meaning, as do structures. Our good words and deeds glorify God, but also sacrifice our resources to build places that are consecrated to God.

Christians should not make outward signs of their faith look the same as any other building. Followers of Jesus should not want people to confuse their churches with restaurants or industrial centers. Churches are important; they symbolize the Christian community and are places where important parts of Christianity are practiced. You should look important; they should look more important than warehouses and leisure centers. How could one imagine a thoroughly Christian society with no physical signs of faith? Churches are supposed to symbolize faith. You should stand out because the Christian religion should stand out. They should tower over our cities because Christianity should be the top priority of our society.

Follow this author on Twitter: @ 16heintel

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