MeTalk: The church with no windows

Recently, I newer person to our church commented that we had windows.  At first I thought this was a rather unusual thing to get excited about, but after we talked a bit I saw where she was coming from.

church window 1Lots of modern worship spaces have no windows, no outside light, and nothing “natural” in them.  They are designed more like movie theaters than the stained glass bejeweled cathedrals of old.

All of this is done for a purpose (I would assume).  You see the problem is that natural light is unpredictable.  Our worship space, for example, has nine large windows running down the sides.  This means, that depending on time of day and level of clouds the light level in the sanctuary can very by quite a bit.  To me, that just part of the magic.  To others it is simply unacceptable.

It’s unacceptable because its unpredictable, and in worship, unpredictable is bad.

How did we get to a place where clouds are bad?

Several years ago I traveled to India and worshiped in a number of small local churches.   While they varied greatly one thing remain consistent.  Because electricity only worked sometimes, and air conditioning is ridiculously expensive, and people are stacked on top of each other in most places, there were always lots of open windows to let in light, breeze, and noise from the street.

IMG_4866 1A few years later I experienced the same in Africa.

The fact that the sounds and smells of the outside world invaded the worship space gave it a much different feeling.  One I rarely encounter over here.  Sure, we might worship outdoors once in a while, and that’s good, but most of the time we are locked up in our temperature controlled holy boxes when we gather to offer our praises to God.

Is this how God wants it?  Shutting out the outside world so completely?

When I think about what the missional church is, it’s like a building where the doors and windows are all open.  It lets the world in and lets it shape the experience.

Silent times of prayer are so much more amazing when instead of listening to the rustling of your pew mates as they check there watches you instead tune into the sounds around you.

The missional church goes looking for the needs and questions of the community, then attempts to bring those into the life of the church in tangible ways.

We’ve arrived at a place where the church often refuses to meet people on any other terms than it’s own.  We put up barriers that shut the windows of the church to outside influence.

Being the missional church is asking questions of those around you, and letting what is happening out there touch the experience of in here.