I’ve been reading Dan Kimball’s “The Emerging Church” (Zondervan, 2003) and have been fascinated at his evaluation of postmodernity and the ministry methods for emerging generations (Millennials and Gen. Z).
One point Kimball makes is that emerging generations, especially those who have no previous exposure to the Christian faith, want to worship in churches that are artistically reverent and architecturally magnificent. Kimball even writes that he would love to worship in a medieval cathedral if his church could afford to buy or build one, but financially that would be irresponsible.
My question is “Are Cathedrals Making a Comeback?” Will we see church buildings in the future go back to the vaulted ceilings, ornate wood-work, kneeling prayer benches, and frescos painted through out? Will emerging generations choose to go to a church that makes them ascribe worth to God through the architecture as much as the preaching or music?
I just don’t believe so. I don’t believe Millennial Christians who are very simple and minimalistic will go to a church where millions of dollars have been spent in building arched ceilings, victorian chandeliers, coptic artistry and angelic murals.
I don’t believe they are going to see the value in spending all that money on something here in America when people in Africa are dying of AIDS and orphanages are overflowing with children left from ethnic cleansing. I believe emerging generations want their money to support social causes and help the oppressed, not in building America cathedrals.
I agree with many of Kimball’s assessments of the emerging church, but I think he has it all wrong on this point. If anything Millennials will seek out smaller, less ornate, less expensive church buildings. They will meet in homes and in rented commerical space in order to stay out of debt and be more giving to the REAL needs of our planet – the people.