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Theology and Ministry

An understanding of Place: What Should we do with Old Church Buildings?

Revd Katharine Green


The question of what we should do with church buildings is an issue of vital concern for the Church in Britain in the twenty-first century as it seeks new ways to revitalise its life and mission. This paper explores a theology of place in relation to church buildings and seeks to develop possible ways forward for those confronted with the problems of old, redundant or problematic churches. The paper has a strong practical theology focus and emerges from a consideration of methodology in relation to the Pastoral Cycle, which informs its structure. It begins with ‘experience’, which remains central throughout, drawing on two case studies from the North East of England. It then looks at sociological and psychological studies to consider the importance of place, before considering what makes certain places sacred, and theologically reflecting on place in relation to Scripture, tradition and ecclesiology. It concludes with some practical ministerial outcomes, which could be implemented within a concrete church setting. 

Key Words: Place; Space; Church buildings; Ecclesiology; Mission

Article (pdf file for download)