Historic mainline Protestant and Catholic churches are being recycled by evangelical congregations, even as many of their features are being retained by church planters who see their heritage and “authenticity” as a draw to younger members, reports Christianity Today (March).
Recent acquisitions of buildings by prominent evangelical congregations have tended to be historic mainline churches, such as Seattle’s Mars Hill megachurch obtaining the downtown First United Methodist. These acquisitions may signal a cultural shift in thinking about worship and finances, ac-cording to Gary Nicholson, director of Lifeway Architecture.
He adds that congregations that renovate old buildings or lease office or warehouse space are part of the same trend of “leveraging facilities more wisely by acquiring rather than constructing.” The trend is consistent with recent data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis showing a nearly $5 billion drop in monthly construction spending on religious institutions. One pastor says that the 19th-century pews and vintage fixtures of the vacated Presbyterian church it bought appeal to young worshippers, who may have a subconscious feeling that “This is what it’s supposed to be like.”
(Christianity Today, 364 Gundersen, Carol Stream, IL 60188)