[There are various views on church architecture. Sometimes we present viewpoints that are regarded as modernistic, sometimes the conservative angle is presented. The author of this article gives his views as a contribution to the important subject of church architecture, so vital to many of our readers.—Editors.]
WE ARE living in a day of rapid change in the style of almost every type of building. Much of it is good and even excellent. Of the older construction even a casual observer can determine within a few years when this or that building was constructed. Perhaps our most rapid change of style has come in church designing. The modernistic fad has pretty well swept through the entire church building world, and Seventh-day Adventists have by no means escaped. It is often difficult to identify some build-ings as churches. In fact, some are so modernistic that they have been taken for supermarkets!
The outside appearance of a church unwittingly tells the nature of the sermon proclaimed from the pulpit within. Surely the conservative is more in keeping with our message than the modernistic or contemporary. We believe we have a special and unchanging message for the world at this time of earth's history. What an opportunity there is for us to make an appeal to the passing public concerning our unchanging everlasting gospel message by using a type of church building that is almost ageless.
A church is primarily a place where people meet together to worship God, and not to be entertained by the sermon and music. Should not every appointment within and without the church stimulate man's natural instinct to worship? A church style that corresponds to our dress and deportment—a sort of Stradivarius violin type! Will not the person whose hungry soul has found only emptiness in modernistic-style churches be attracted to our church buildings that look like churches? Not all that our forefathers approved as places of worship was bad. The appearance ol our churches should surely be in harmony with our message and reflect the characteristics of the people who shaped them. A church should not look like a post office, a State capitol, a railway station, or a theater. Yet our land is pockmarked with just such miscarriages of architectural judgment.
Many large city churches are being deserted, and the congregations are dividing into occupational, racial, and society classes and are building small churches in the suburbs.
Should not Seventh-day Adventists endeavor to build on conservative lines in spite of modernistic patterns or tendencies? Something like the picture accompanying this article perhaps? The structure of our churches should appeal to passers-by and so influence them that they will wish to enter and take part in the services.
This short article is an appeal to building committees to shape our churches so that they will be representative and dignified and conducive to reverential worship.