The Gospel Coalition is discussing church buildings, and I’m a participant.

And the commenters are generally displeased.  Here’s the excerpt, but read the whole thing and let me know what you think:

At the same time, this indwelling life of the Spirit needs external, visible support to flourish. The life of Christ is “poured out in our hearts,” but it gets there by way of the body. Reading the Bible or hearing the proclamation of the Word are just as sensory as walking in a church, which is why we attend to the words differently depending on whether we are saying them out loud, listening to them, or reading them. Cut ourselves off from this practice or the other practices of the church, and the fruit inevitably withers on the vine.

Buildings and other forms of human making shape us, then, because our bodies affect our souls as much as our souls affect our bodies. While evangelicals have rightly focused on the interior life, the interior life has a particular shape based on whether and how we “present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice.” While architecture may not be the main thing for evangelicals, the main thing isn’t the only one that matters.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. While I think that you have identified basically of the concerns we should consider when locating our church assemblies, I am left wondering what the cash value is.

    Should we never meet in a storefront, or off-hours in a Movie Theater? Should orthodoxy Episcopal congregations maintain their ties to their heretical denominations in order to maintain their access to the beautiful building they meet in?


  2. **While architecture may not be the main thing for evangelicals, the main thing isn’t the only one that matters.**

    Sorry to be a grump, but I don’t think the vast swath of American Evangelicals will ever prioritize or appreciate church architecture because [biting my lower lip] of a prevailing lowbrow aesthetic, populist impulse, and utilitarian calculus. Evangelicals, in my observation, usually pursue truth and goodness to the neglect of beauty, as if beauty is luxurious indulgence or gratuitous ornamentation. Once we comprehend that beauty is an essential rather than accidental attribute of God, our image-bearing will involve beauty-making.


    1. Orrrr, they’ve historically rejected the wretched, idolatrous, self-glorifying,poor-exploiting, gold-filigreeing every jot and tittle-ish excess of the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches,

      and are taking a while to swing the pendulum back into balance.


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