If form follows function, perhaps we need to redesign our churches.


The number one rule of architecture is “form follows function.” Buildings and spaces should facilitate and enhance their purpose, not detract from it.

The New Testament gives us multiple glimpses of what the function of church should be, in the 50+ “one another” instructions.

“Encourage one another.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

“Build one another up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Instruct one another.” Romans 15:14

“Accept one another.” Romans 15:7

“Serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

“Teach and admonish one another” Colossians 3:16

“Spur one another on toward love and good deeds” Hebrews 10:24

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other.” James 5:16

“Offer hospitality to one another” 1 Peter 4:9

“Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

“Have fellowship with one another” 1 John 1:7

“Love one another.” John 13:34

How can we focus on one-anothering if we are seated in rows, gazing on the backs of one another’s heads?

How will we confess our sins to one another, pray for one another, encourage and build one another up if we sit silently facing a stage?

How do we empower all of God’s people to be actively involved in one-anothering if we only give a small minority a voice, a platform, a position?

Perhaps we need to rethink our spaces, rearrange our seating, and redesign our buildings to reflect the purpose and function of gathering together as a church community.

5 thoughts on “If form follows function, perhaps we need to redesign our churches.

  1. Love the post! Proponents of traditional or institutional church argue that the types of gatherings you describe should happen outside the four walls in the day to day. However, like you, I strongly feel that how we gather even inside those four walls should promote the every-member, one-another ministry.

    I know that it’s not about form and structure. The Body of Christ meets in unique ways. But, I certainly believe that we need to be willing to transform any form and structure that prevents the Body from fully expressing her priesthood!

    Good stuff! By the way Kathleen, have you guys ever heard of the ministry of Wayne Jacobsen? He shares a lot of our beliefs concerning freedom and relationships. This is a great brother in Christ. His website is http://www.lifestream.org.


    • Thanks Stephen!

      I’ve just come across Wayne Jacobsen’s stuff recently. He’s a great communicator.

      – Kathleen 🙂

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  3. Some people say that function follows form, which makes your point even more imperative!

    I remember many years ago visiting a Sydney church service where a Bible college lecturer in New Testament was the preacher. He spoke on the fact that in the NT fellowship was the main reason we should meet together. He gave opportunity for questions at the end, and I wanted to ask him (1) if that’s so, why are you up there [it was an old church with a very elevated pulpit] and we’re down here looking at the backs of each other’s heads? and (2) does that make coffee after the service more important than your sermon? But because I was a visitor, I didn’t ask. 🙁

    • You’re right Eric, function follows form. Winston Churchill said; “first we shape our buildings, then our buildings shape us.” Most church building are very restrictive when people start thinking about breaking out of rows and forming circles.

      I love your story about the ironic sermon – I sat through one very similar, where the preacher droned on about the priesthood of all believers (except women, whom he did not permit to speak, lol). I decided not to challenge him afterwards either!

      – Kathleen

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