My friend, Paul, blogged about Church architecture sometime back. One point he made which struck me was this:
When I look at those religious buildings in Singapore, I know immediately which one is which. Were I to seek a Muslim house of worship, I would enter the mosque. The photo on the left of the Purajaya Mosque in Malaysia is instantly recognizable as a mosque. It's geometric shapes and patterns, the dome, the small minarets in the four corners are all hallmarks of the Islamic house of worship.My parish church is about to undergo extensive remodelling. Many churches in Singapore have recently been renovated or rebuilt. Sad to say, they sometimes lose their distinctive characteristics in the process. My hope is that the same will not happen to my parish church.
The same should be true of our churches. There should be
certain hallmarks that set them out as Christian house of worship, apart from the cross... and a number of modern churches don't even have these!
Amy Welborn's blog has a fascinating debate about a more fundamental issue (of which humdrum church architecture may be merely a symptom) -- namely the question of familiarity in the worship experience. Do read all the comments. Some commenters discuss the 'megachurch' phenomenon in the US, which might seem somewhat remote and irrelevant. But then, we have our local variants too. Think NCC and CHC.
So what is your take on 1. Church architecture, 2. The nature of the worship experience -- should be it familiar, a seamless fit with other activities that form part of our 'lifestyle'; or should it retain some sense of mystery, wonder, or even bafflement?