Would Your Church Make a Great Parking Lot?

Every church wants to be attractional, whether they admit it or not. It’s why we mow our lawns, paint our walls and offer childcare … among other things.

Is simply attracting truly attractive?

The old Michigan Theater in Detroit was built in 1926. It was a spacious and grand hall with ornamental details throughout its design. After its demise and long “retirement,” the owner of the building chose not to demolish it entirely, but, instead, kept its ceiling as an interior motif for a parking lot.

Questions: 

Would your church make a great parking lot?

What happens when something beautiful and aesthetically pleasing becomes simply utilitarian?

I found a POV on aesthetics in this blog which might express it better than I … Aesthetics are not important if you have good usability by Zoltán Gócza, who quotes some interesting studies.

Here are five “losses” we should probably examine to see if our churches are headed toward the utilitarian heap.

1. Loss of language.

I love the writings of C.S Lewis, Dallas Willard and a number of other well-known Christian authors. I don’t enjoy them just because they have profound thoughts, though they certainly do have them.

Mostly, I love them because they take me “inside” of my thought process to places I may or may not understand fully. It’s beautiful in there!

In pulpits across America, you can hear the “lite” versions of these writers. The well-written phrase has become the funny story or gratuitous joke. 

“Hey,” said one pastor friend, “people can relate to those!” Really? All the time? Week after week? 

Where’s the seasoning, the taste, the motivation for “eating?”

2. Loss of style.

Many churches are completely interchangeable with every other church in their “play group.” Contemporary? Traditional? If your church is exactly like another, you may be attending too many conferences.

There is absolutely no problem with developing healthy distinctiveness in ministry. Not a big bragging-point differentiation, but rather a testimony to the uniqueness of God’s creation and the call in each church, full of unique people.

This is very hard for leaders because they want to be included in that elite group of, in actor Charlie Sheen’s words, “Winners!”

It’s understandable, but a slap in the face to a model that should include creativity and imagination.

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Doug Lawrence
Doug Lawrence is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor, who helps churches assess and improve their skillfulness in creating engaging worship experiences. In 2007 he founded and continues to serve as CEO of Speaking as a Performing Art, a firm which coaches leading executives and their teams and includes pastors from across the country. Doug co-authored GPS for Success, published in 2011, with Stephen Covey and others. You may reach him at [email protected]