At All Saints Church in Ilkley we are currently debating the future of our church development. The conversations are inevitably fueled by the cost and the awareness that the church is about people and not primarily buildings. So what we need is a clear connection between the building and something deeper.
I was inspired to remember (thanks to Jonny's links) that church buildings have been places where faith is expressed through art. But it seems that in many churches art has become fossilized – you can see the glass windows, the paintings and the hear the music, but it has somehow become trapped in the past, museum like. Hardly anyone is inspired or changed by walking into a church building these days.
The outside world is experiencing an explosion of creative expression. It's a multi-media, multi-coloured world where ideas and fragments of people's lives are shared and presented in wonderfully imaginative ways.
St Paul's Cathedral has commissioned two permanent plasma screen alterpieces by artist Bill Viola.
Leftbank Leeds has reworked a church building to become the focus for a community of artists.
In Brighton the church is engaging the whole community in The Brighton Passion
You might like to read this article in the guardian which notes that 1.8 million people visit the Tate Modern every year while church attendance declines.
Art can help people reconnect with great themes such as life, death and suffering. "The aim of art is to reveal, inspire and question. It is a tragedy that many do not know or cannot accept that belief shares these aims"
It's not just about providing a space to hang art, but a place for people to dig deeper into their soul and worship God in ways that they are being denied by the church.
So let's put art into the vision for our church development and particularly make the spaces flexible and open to the participation of creative people.