A to Z challenge – Y

esterday’s building project, in 10 years’ time, may become today’s new building project. There are few buildings that are immune to the need for renovation and reinvention, seemingly within a relatively short time span. This view is based on empirical rather than anecdotal evidence. The Equality Act and the desire to render church buildings as more open, welcoming and user friendly have heightened the need to continuously improve buildings and have provided the momentum for change. This has been further accelerated by improvements in building materials with the consequent innovations then available through building design. This can mean that buildings that were improved some years ago now look closed, utilitarian and inflexible in use. Buildings, although fixed in terms of their physicality, are actually living organisms responding to the needs of those using them. The rigidity of previous design and construction may reveal that they are not able to adapt and support those who use them. And the needs of those coming to a church building are not only physical and practical but also spiritual and emotional.

The church building should commend the gospel both to its locality and to those visiting it. For this reason keeping the use of the building under constant review as a building project is a worthwhile and helpful action. Even if there are no physical obstacles to entering a church building, a building should show itself to be welcoming to all emotionally too. For example a bright, light and airy entrance with clear glazed entrance doors and a level door sill from 2021 will be in stark contrast to a set of steps with an imposing pair of unglazed wooden double doors at the top of them. Noting these and other potential changes will allow a future building project to be well informed with genuine evidence of actual needs. It should also allow an occupier to make small effective adaptations, where finance allows, to meet needs sooner rather than later. For example, an adaptation to a building to allow a nursery to operate from the space will not only allow a service to be provided but also offer the potential for many more people to be reached with the gospel.