By Mikee Latta
What role does beauty have in a church?
This was the question I found myself wrestling with when I was thinking about art in relation to the church. But it was a few different conversations and experiences that came to mind that made wonder about what the atmosphere of a church building means to the people that meet there.
The conversations varied in content but the main idea of each was how does a creative choice in the presentation of a church affect the people that congregate there? I believe there are two ways of thinking about this question because I don’t think there is one cut and dry solution or answer.
People have different preferences in style of worship, building, lighting, and preaching but the idea is beauty should be brought into consideration for those in charge of a church and those attending. So how should the church view beauty in the building or presentation, and how should the church attender observe the creativity presented?
I want to discuss the church and those who would be in charge of a creative presentation, or in short, the atmosphere. I believe this is in large part ignored, at least in the intentionality of creating a specific atmosphere.
The catch is that all churches have an atmosphere, but why should we as a church or a church leader put some kind of emphasis on that atmosphere?
Traditionally, and with some current denominations, this is still significant and, in a sense, put right in your face to observe. Think about Greek orthodox churches and their painted domes and use of incense, or more well known uses of elaborate stained glass windows by many other denominations, and countless other often-unobserved architecture staples of denominations. To me, these are wonderful apsects of liturgical atmosphere. My point is simply this: if you’re in charge of a church some emphasis should be placed on the atmosphere of the building, just as you would want your instruments to be in tune when you play, or you’d want your floors to be clean, or you would want to have a well-presented sermon I would argue that you also want to think about color, design, smell, and even the type of decorations.
I believe if some thought was put into this area it would encourage the fellowship of believers and encourage worship by creating an atmosphere of worship.
As for the people attending the church, our goal is to find a church where the atmosphere helps us to worship and enjoy the church as a whole. Some people enjoy a simpler traditional style of church, I find myself in that group. Some people enjoy a louder brighter setting, and some even enjoy a blend.
The point then is this for both the church leaders and the people who attend the churches: beauty can play a powerful role in the church experience as a whole. We should strive to magnify the beauty that the body of the church has to offer.
Mikee Latta is a participant in CBF’s Student.Church program and is a senior at Augusta University.