The future of church buildings – by Sara Cross

  • Fellowship service

These are just thoughts I had in Sweden that I jotted down whilst sitting in front of yet another church ruin.

St Peter’s Church in Sweden is a ruin. What was the point of all that effort, all that art, all that prayer to end up as a husk. Prayer just needs a place, not a building to the world.

I look at the art of the believers and feel their prayers down the centuries in their work. These places of worship, full of faithful art are now just a backdrop for a selfie. Few make time to really look and appreciate. Even fewer seem to make time to pray.

The buildings are full of grace and built by the hands of believers that bought whole communities together. The poor the rich, the labourer the gentry. These places were built for the community to praise God, to meet, play music and sing.

So what is the point of them now? Why not use these places of worship again for the community. Villages want new village halls but they have beautiful ready made ones on their door step. A building that everyone could truly use for schools, workshops, office space, entertainment and of course a place of worship. Churches are not there to shut out un-believers. The alternative is to let them be recycled into the community new house building projects and our St Nicholas becomes a husk like the one I sat beside in Sweden.

The potential to make them part of our community is enormous.  People pay a fortune to have a wedding in a beautiful building why doesn’t the church exploit that and make it a place for the reception also with fees to match. Churches are only buildings that are like Stately Homes and must be used to keep vibrant in our community for all instead of just a few. Very few people use the church but would hate to not have it. Non church goers sometimes think the church is state run and seem affronted that they have to pay for weddings/funerals. Why do we scrim, save and sell tea clothes to preserve or change bells that in 20 years time no one will have the knowledge to play or services to play to.  Why not raise funds to buy the first driverless car to get those isolated rural people to church for pray or activities or work.

Millions are raised for new village halls. That money can be used to bring our church buildings back into the community.  The community for some reason has become split between improving old village halls and building a new one.  Surely the Church should connect everyone.