'if your church building were a person, what would it be like?'
In Walter's new booklet about church buildings he looks at the personality of buildings and how the Church must engage with them. There are simple exercises in each short chapter to help parishes think about their building in a different way - for example considering the different moods and characters of each area of a church which may differ from lobby to nave to chancel.
Again we read that church buildings are of value to the local community even if they don't use the church. They embody meaning, they are always there and as familiar buildings, are an accessible way for many on the periphery of Christian faith to reidentify with the Church. The reader is reminded that although many churches are welcoming there is still more that can be done, and they may still not be welcoming to someone unfamiliar with the building and its community.
Walters makes a good point about comfort not being about furnishings, and decorating church interiors in a domestic fashion not being the solution to making a building more comfortable. Instead he emphasises the importance of welcome, and the need to be porous, having a sense of openness. We are reminded that the churchyard is a bridge between the community and inside the church, and using it will help newcomers to cross the threshold.
Catherine Townsend, Dec 2014
Church Buildings for People; Reimagining Church Buildings as Nourishing Places, by Nigel Walter published by Grove Books Ltd (2014). £3.95.