Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Clarification from the steeple people

A couple of weeks ago my story about churches meeting in distinctly non-church buildings ran with the headline "Here's the church, where's the steeple?" Well, this apparently upset the steeple manufacturers of the world, who sent me an e-mail. I admit that I laughed at first, but the guy had an interesting point: these new, trendy churches, eventually have a need to be established.

From David England, vice president of sales/marketing for Campellsville Industries: "We find after these churches are established and grow to a sustainable size, they begin to acquire traditional church symbols (such as a steeple or cross) to establish themselves as a church. Many find that their lack of a steeple or cross sometimes leaves them unnoticed in the community, as one pastor who telephoned us said: 'People have been asking if we are an office building or a school, and yesterday someone asked if we were a Pizza Hut.' He was calling to inquire about a steeple for his church."

So what do you think? Does a church need to look like a church?


John said...

Personally, I think the steeple manufacturer(s) you heard from is afraid of losing business.

"Does a church need to look like a church?"

A church needs to look (and act) like "The Church" -- the Body of Jesus Christ. If churches looked more like the Church we read about in the Bible, steeple manufacturers would be obsolete. John Doe, with terminal cancer, wouldn't need a steeple to identify the church that practices as the early Church did. The word would spread so fast about the miracles there that he'd simply have to follow the crowd to find it......steeple or not.

The first Church was found, not by looking for a steeple, but by a sound "noised abroad". Hungry souls didn't find the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, by looking for any type of symbol. They went to where the crowds were. They could spot Him by the mass of people wanting His attention.

Steeples? They're manmade. Miracles? They're God-made! People need miracles, not steeples.

That's my two cents. :)

MS said...

@John, while you are correct that people need miracles, we humans cannot produce them. God produces them. You seem to think we should stop producing steeples so we can produce miracles. It doesn't quite work that way.

Steeples, as well as other traditional architecture are symbols which have grown through tradition. While it is true that you can't feed a starving person with a steeple, it is a symbol which helps to feed a starving soul.

The importance of art and architecture in a church comes from the experience of religion through the senses God gave us. I am Catholic, and the bells, candles, incense, stained glass windows of Jesus and the Saints, Gregorian Chant, etc. all appeal to my senses and enable a deeper worship experience.

Furthermore, it is the desire of the congregation to use their time and talents to beautify the church and help provide others with a deeper experience of worship.

John said...

Hi ms:

I, in no way, meant to insinuate that man produces miracles or that stopping the production of steeples would bring about more miracles. Surely, we all know God performs the miracle? I assumed that was a given. :)

God uses willing vessels today as He did in the Bible. That vessel must be yielded to the Holy Ghost (or God can use a donkey, if He wishes, too! *grin*). A steeple has no function in the Body but for decoration. Some even say they have pagan origins. Personally, I have no problem with them.

The point is that a steeple is tradition and for looks. Sure, traditions are good...to a degree. But, so many traditions have gotten to the point of being on par with the commandments of God, much like the Lord accused the Pharisees of doing in His day.

If you like steeples, I certainly won't take away from your experience with them. My church has one, too. I was simply commenting on the author's comment about the steeple company and, more directly, on the question "Does a church need to look like a church?"

I say, "No. A church needs to look (and act) like the Bible says, not like man says."

IMO, steeples could disappear and God wouldn't bat an eye. But, He certainly delights in healing and saving, things we see less and less of in this country. :(

MS said...

I like the steeples. I can drive down the road and see a steeple from a few blocks away, reminding me to say a prayer, and thank God that we live in a country which recognizes our right and freedom to practice religion.

Also, many steeples have bells in them. At my church the bells ring to signal the beginning of Mass. At my college, the bells would ring to signal to the monks to assemble for liturgy of the hours.

So in those instances, a steeple does have a function in the body of Christ. It brings people together for prayer.

Anonymous said...

For me, I prefer churches to look like "churches", steeples, etc. My hometown church was torn down a few years ago, built in late 1800's, small but beautiful. Small, older membership and good location so Walgreen's bought them out. I went to last service - everyone cried. It was God's house. We used to dress a little nicer growing up, talked a little quieter, etc. Today I go to a multi-purpose room church. We stack chairs at end of service for next event, and I even wear shorts on some occasions. This is God's house, also, and I love people here, but the structure does make a difference for me.