Tired Dragons: Adapting Church Architecture to Changing Needs by Edwin C. Lynn

An excerpt from the book Tired Dragons: Adapting Church Architecture to Changing Needs by Edwin C. Lynn.


About the book: An architect and minister considers how church buildings, many originally constructed as static monuments, can be transformed into living environments to serve community needs for space where people can gather for entertainment, lectures, and educational classes, as well as for worship.

From the book: The railroads are an example of a large national institution that did not alter its patterns and cooperate within itself or with others and was almost forced to extinction. Many churches operate much like the railroads. Other churches are seen as insidious rivals; pennies are looked upon as dollars; minor expenses are regarded as major catastrophes; buildings are seen as valuable baggage that must be protected with every possible safeguard. The churches should consider that all these security methods have not protected the railroads from continued decline.

In the context of order, pews have taken on a theological importance. Their symmetry symbolizes the desired order--not the extreme social order of the pew renters and purchasers of colonial times but the order of religious tradition. However, to sit securely in the pews, smugly oblivious with present changes is inconsistent with a revitalized, meaningful religious belief. Architects have created fancy building shapes and spectacular roof structures, clergymen have inspired changing worship forms. Nevertheless, congregations have refused to change their attitudes, and their immobile seats confirm their rigidity. The obstacles are difficult to overcome. Until the rigid pew structure is changed, the church will not substantially alter its present course. The pews are where the people are, and unless they are willing to alter their patterns, there is little hope for the tired dragons. This does not mean that by destroying all pews we would have a revitalized church; it only means as long as pews are worshiped, there is little hope for a relevant church.

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