Conservative or Contemporary Church Style?

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.

[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.


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April 1962

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An Indispensable Element in Worship

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