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    The aesthetics of your church

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    Paeter
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    The aesthetics of your church

    Post  Paeter on May 14th 2015, 5:22 pm

    I'm just suddenly curious about the Sunday morning aesthetics of the churches you all attend. I first want to state that I don't think there is a single "right way" to design a Sunday morning aesthetic. Churches ought to lean toward styles that connect well with the demographic they find themselves in, which is going to differ greatly. Just sitting here wishing I could sit next to you guys on a Sunday morning and it got me wondering what your experience is like.

    For example, although I started attending when our church met in an Italian restaurant, it's now pretty big and meets in a modern auditorium with two services and a rough total of 1,000-1500 on campus. It's a very non-traditional church that incorporates stage lighting, a big sound system and a full band. Somewhat to my disappointment, some attendees say they used to think of it as "the concert church" when they started attending. We hired a new worship pastor a couple years ago who has added much greater depth of lyrical content and intentionality and subtlety to how lights and other media are used, but the structure unavoidably looks and functions like many concert venues.

    Hymns and other ancient forms of content are incorporated frequently but with a modern redesign. No organ, no choir.

    Structure is not liturgical. It varies but we usually have announcements, a song or two, a video or other variable element, offering, more singing, sermon and sometimes one more song.

    Pulpit preaching is almost always from a specific text, pulling ideas from the text. (As opposed to topical, where the idea comes first and then scripture is quoted to support it.) Our pastor is not a passionate speaker, but a very down-to-earth "what does this look like in our daily grind" kind of teacher. He's also in his late 60's, and soon to be stepping down.

    So how would you describe the trappings of your Sunday morning experience?


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    mikel.withers

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    Re: The aesthetics of your church

    Post  mikel.withers on May 15th 2015, 8:24 am

    Our church meets in a large steel building that, aside from a steeple on top, looks more like a small convention center than a church building. (in fact, we put signs up in the last couple years, and occasionally get people who come by or I talk to who never realized it was a church before that) We originally were in a late 1800's brick and stained glass building with bell tower and all the works, but we outgrew it and had to move. Honestly, the new building works much better than the old for the meeting of people, but it does lose some of the ambiance. That might not seem like a big deal, but people definitely dress more casual here than they did over there. Which, again, probably isn't a big deal, in and of itself, but I worry about people taking the faith less seriously as well.
    We have very little by way of art here, some of the offices have some, but the sole piece of culture (right word?) that the main part of the building has is the large wooden cross that we carried to this building from the old one at the end of construction.

    On to services. We recently got a new music director turned worship pastor (with his newly minted degree) and, although he and I are friends, I tend to really miss the old hymns...they had gravitas. Our music now mainly consists of not-quite "contemporary" worship songs that have a lot of repetition and ...to my taste, blandness.

    After 3 or so songs, we have announcements, then if a missionary is in town or we have an event going on/coming up we'll hear about that, then we "greet someone next to" us, take the offering, and then get into the message. Our head pastor is, like Paeter says, a down to earth guy, who is happiest when a tractor is left sitting unattended outside, and while he isn't a super-motivational speaker, he gives a solid sermon. He wears a no-nonsense suit, which puts him at odds with 99% of the people who go here. We usually, if not always, go through a particular passage from the Bible, and we generally go through a book or section of a book at a time.
    Afterwards most people meet in the large narthex/foyer (a benefit of the new building is that it can hold everyone) or go to the gym and get coffee.

    Communion is usually just before or after the sermon... I think our pastor likes to keep us guessing which it will be, and we do it once a month.

    A word about lighting/sound. Our worship pastor recently got some mood lighting (for lack of a better word) that he is fiddling with...so far it isn't distracting, and it does add some color to the vanilla stage. We have an enormous sound board, and we use about a quarter of it... we'll use less if the "guys" get their way and we switch to some kind of Ipad mixer thingy they were talking about.

    Nathan James Norman
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    Re: The aesthetics of your church

    Post  Nathan James Norman on May 15th 2015, 8:34 pm

    We're in "functional" mode at The Orchard Church.
    Praise God, this year we're finally meeting our budget, but for the previous couple of years we've been struggling financially.
    So, the rented church building is pretty bare-bones.
    We installed a large 15 foot cross in the sanctuary that was constructed from a member's old barn, and back lit with cord lighting. I've started draping fabric over it to correspond to the church calendar. (Advent, Christmastide, Lent, Eastertide, Pentacost, Regular Time, etc.).

    We have a few wall sconces with artificial plants.
    No special lighting.
    A simple audio mixing board.

    Nearly everything in the church is volunteer and we have some really dedicated people.
    So, for the most part, we're not terribly polished.
    But it is a great community. A great family of believers.

    The guy who preaches is a bit of a rube.

    Everyone else is pretty great.

    Paeter
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    Re: The aesthetics of your church

    Post  Paeter on May 19th 2015, 7:47 pm

    mikel.withers wrote:Our church meets in a large steel building that, aside from a steeple on top, looks more like a small convention center than a church building.

    It's funny what something like architecture says to us, and how we see things so differently depending on life experience. The first building on our church property was built to be a big concrete box that could do whatever we needed it to. So we set up chairs just in front of a basketball court in a giant multi-purpose room. And for a time it was actually a concept that connected with a lot of people in our demographic who didn't want church to look and feel tradition or "like church". Then as time passed and post-modernism hit with full force, people became more interested in surroundings that immediately indicated a spiritual purpose.

    It's probably my pride somehow (it usually all comes back to that for me) but when with others I think I prefer a more dull, cerebral setting for worship, and embrace more artistic/creative environments when by myself.


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    Paeter
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    Re: The aesthetics of your church

    Post  Paeter on May 19th 2015, 7:53 pm

    Nathan James Norman wrote:
    We installed a large 15 foot cross in the sanctuary that was constructed from a member's old barn, and back lit with cord lighting. I've started draping fabric over it to correspond to the church calendar. (Advent, Christmastide, Lent, Eastertide, Pentacost, Regular Time, etc.).

    That tickles my "things-I-like-bone". The more earthy and (crap, I can't avoid saying it, can I?) "rugged" a cross, the more it gives me reason to pause and think.


    Nathan James Norman wrote:
    The guy who preaches is a bit of a rube.
    Everyone else is pretty great.

    For those lurking who don't know, Nathan is the rube pastor. (And I totally had to look up "rube".) That word always makes me think of rhubarb... gross.


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