The idea of sacred space is not lost on the unchurched, it seems. Recent research by Lifeway has revealed a surprising fact about our church buildings:
People who don’t go to church may be turned off by a recent trend toward more utilitarian church buildings. By a nearly 2-to-1 ratio over any other option, unchurched Americans prefer churches that look more like a medieval cathedral than what most think of as a more contemporary church building.
The unchurched preference for medieval cathedrals over utilitarian or all-purpose church buildings should not be reduced to mere whims of architecture. The preference is rooted in unconsciously expressed theology and our deep need to worship and inhabit sacred spaces. Our contemporary multi-purpose, conference-like halls do not offer enough of a break from the world’s common spaces to facilitate the dance with the sacred we naturally look for during worship times. This research should not be ignored or hastily discarded.