Consecrated Space // Integrative Church
(first posted by Jeff LeFever on November 12, 2010 at the original FBA website)
By Jeff LeFever
What would it look like?
In my travels I have observed the spaces in which people come to worship God. I have noticed that there are two basic types. Both are good and fine, and work for their measure.
A consecrated space is set aside – differentiated from the world, made up in symbol and meaning to reflect the Holy – so when you are inside, you have left the noise and persuasion and found a place of rest, reflection, consideration, reverence, and prayer. You know you are in a place set aside for this. The art and beauty communicate the theology, as well as the spirit, of faith.
A place like this should always be open to all, as is God’s offering of salvation.
Integration is an action rather than a location – so here the place is inconsequential. Integrative church is the meeting of the people and the engagement of the service (music/prayer/teaching/greeting), and includes missionary flow outward to the community. These churches need a meeting hall to conduct a worship service, but the space is purely functional to the needs of the congregation and its leaders and organizers.
By these definitions (and my understanding), the consecrated space can also be a church of integration. However, rarely do integrative churches feel the need (nor would they even work) to pursue consecrated establishments. To do so would betray the personality of their integrative nature, and the personality or identity of their easygoing, casual worship by ordinary but sanctified people. This also reflects their ideas of sanctification and the human body as temple for God’s Spirit: it would be an unnecessary expense to focus on a building.
I have much to say about this.
My vision for the FBA is to realize and aid in the making of Consecrated Space that involves the visual arts (and all the senses, really). My hand is open to all those wishing to conceive such a presence in a community. This is a forum for this discussion.
Consecrated Space, Integrative Church: both have their place. I do not think either is wrong. I do think there is a need in community for the Consecrated Space that stands apart, separate from the host culture, and is identified by its own divinely inspired culture, recognized and sought for the fact it is not about the things of this world.
What is exciting to me is the Consecrated Space actively serving its community as a community center.
I would like to open this blog post for discussion on ways to make this possible, for a gathering of faithful to make a space consecrated in Beauty, Truth, Goodness – to God – and also serving the people of the community in matters of the spirit, offering aide, entertainment, enlightenment, growth, sense of place, inclusion–and what the results might be to the community being served.
[added, July 2014]
The Snapshots on this sight are from journals of my experiences in churches I have visited. It is true, almost all the churches Catholic, many are Orthodox, some are Episcopal or Anglican or even Presbyterian…. But it is because these are the churches where I found art being used in architecture and paintings, murals, mosaics, sculptures, etc. These traditions understand the value of the arts and of beauty.
A good friend asked me what I would say to a pastor of a young evangelical church who only had a $1000. to invest in making a consecrated space. It was a great question and we had hours on a train to discuss it.
My answer to the reader is, “Have your pastor call me.”