We’ve got a story to tell, don’t we?
At least in the old days, when you walked up to a typical, garden-variety church there was a steeple perched up on top. Yep, that’s a church. Now more often than not you have to look for the sign out front to make sure it’s not the local community college. Modern church buildings rarely tell their story. Oh sure, the Gospel is (hopefully) solidly embedded in the preaching, teaching, and fellowship. The content is there, but how do we identify the basis of The Story and design that into the environment? And why is this important?
Disney parks use storytelling design to whisk you away to another place and time. Leave the humidity of Florida and the traffic jams of Southern California and take a stroll down Main Street at the turn of the century. Explore the Mississippi during the wild times of the old west. You walk into a modern church and you’d hardly know it had anything to do with the Gospel except for the cross on the wall and the content in the service. I’m being overly critical, but the point, I believe, is valid. We can immerse our guests into the story of the Gospel from the time they search our website and see our sign by the road. We should gradually pull them into what our particular church is all about by using the tools Disney developed: placemaking, authenticity, and of course, the “show”.
Like most everyone, I never had any inkling of this until just recently. I accepted churches as they were, some fancier and bigger than others, but never thought much about any meaning behind the designs (largely because there wasn’t any). I was involved in a church building design process a few years back, and the architect showed some nice drawings that considered our needs, people flow, and so on. But no story. And I didn’t miss it. Until I met Mel at a TEA conference and heard how he decided to apply his Imagineering design experience to churches. Of course, this make total sense. Who has a more crucial, exciting, and hopeful story to share than the church?
I’m so thankful for all the great designers who develop the parks and attractions my family and I love so much. But, what if we set our sights higher and apply all that vast creativity to furthering the Gospel in our communities? What a tremendous difference it could make! Oh, sorry…gotta go polish the cross…