A few months ago I went out to Kansas City to visit some innovative churches. I was struck by how much their space spoke to their mission. In one church, St. Andrews, the mission included creating a place for people to be at home and reaching to God. Their space was home-y, complete with living room furniture in the narthex, and transcendent. The high ceiling peaked at skylights that drew your eyes to the sky.
By contrast The Church of the Resurrection, was set-up on a large scale. The sanctuary felt like an auditorium. Their mission was focused on unchurched and nominally churched people. A traditional church setting wouldn't do.
I'm thinking about our space at Prince of Peace because we've got a great sanctuary, flexible seating, and a world of possibilities. I want to do something different for the Thanksgiving Service we're holding tomorrow night in order to mirror the theme of gratitude and community, but can't figure out what. I'm hoping it will come to me tonight in a dream.
In Divinity School my friend Ian cajoled a little crew of people to spend hours moving pews into the round. It was backbreaking work. We did it multiple times partly because we liked Ian. But more we did it because when we worshipped facing one another, a different sense of God's presence came through.
I just heard about St Paul's chapel next to the site of the World Trade Towers. They moved out the pews, which were charred and scarred by the relief workers who slept on them after 9/11. These pews were a beloved and sacred part of the church's history, but the future of the chapel as a "welcoming, dynamic space" required flexible seating. Watch this 10 min video for more.