“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
The good news of Jesus brings help and hope to the poor, the suffering, the grieving and the oppressed. When our spiritual reality is transformed there is also change in our physical reality. The good news that Jesus referred to, the gospel of the kingdom, promises salvation and transformation to the whole person.
Historically, chapels and cathedrals have played a central role in cities and town alike. The architects of these sacred spaces were theologians as much as decorators and designers. Sanctuaries were designed to offer a place of safety, demonstrating God’s embrace and protection. Churches also provided practical help and support to people in their local community.
Fast forward to 2022 and the role of modern churches in our society.
We live in an age experiencing a crisis of disconnection. Some of the greatest needs in our society are isolation, loneliness and polarisation. Churches play a significant role in helping bring diverse groups of people together and also provide practical care and support services.
Church buildings facilitate the work of the good news of Jesus in our community.
Practical reasons to have our own church facilities include:
- A permanent commitment to the community: Hired facilities for weekends only, means the church can be transient and unreliable. Permanent facilities communicate to the greater community that we are here to stay and play our part in contributing to the needs of others.
- Improving the common good of the greater community: We can serve our communities by having a place where programs and services are provided, and other groups can utilise our facilities. This is a witness to the goodness of God (Matt 5:16)
- Inclusion and Accessibility: Dedicated spaces means we can shape our facilities to meet specific needs of people – including teenagers and young adults, families, children with additional needs, people with disabilities such as hearing/ visually impaired. Creating common areas where relationships, connection and belonging can be fostered, is a high priority.
- Location: Having a location that is centrally accessible through various transport modes enhances the opportunity to access church activities and support services. Consistency of location creates presence in the community that can create avenues for connection. Continual presence builds trust and offers opportunities for impromptu connection.
- Clarity: Disorientation is a primary reason for psychological discomfort and is a key reason for people negatively reflect on an experience. Designing church as a sacred space, where spiritual and human relationships are enabled and enhanced can create a more positive experience than the limitations of commercial/retail spaces.
- Hospitality: What people encounter when they visit our church will leave them with an impression of what we value. If spaces are people orientated, comfortable, meet their needs and foster community, visitors are likely taking this away as a reflection of what we value. Our teams do a fantastic job of making the most of spaces we use, but there always are more opportunities to develop this when we can fit-out alter and develop spaces of our own.
- Stewardship: the opportunity to use finances wisely and invest in capital projects as opposed to rentals only, is wise financial stewardship.
Church spaces and habits shape our thinking, emotions and ultimately actions.
As a church that values discipleship, intentionality around what our environments, practices and communication is teaching can help create healthier communities and strengthen spiritual formation.
Churches have the potential to address human need, and our identity as image bearers of a God who is in essence community (Gen 1:26), and as a fellowship we practice and exemplify the exact answer the world is looking for.
 Koinonia or “sharing in common” is the Greek word we translate ‘fellowship’.
By Tara Conradt (MA & MTh) in conversation with Donna Crouch. Tara is a pastor at our Hillsong Perth campus, and has a passion for social justice and community engagement. Tara has a background in community-based social work and completed a social science degree before going on to post-graduate theological studies.
Church Buildings are key in creating a place to call home and equipping the church to serve its local community. Over the next year, we will be focusing on replenishing our church campuses across Australia to house all that God is doing. The Heart for the House offering can be received from now until 30th June 2022.