(That was me trying to lower the bar a bit so you won't expect too much in the future, but still keep coming back on the chance there might be something good.)
I also appreciated John's question and wanted to give it a more thoughtful response than I initially gave.
So are you saying that you *need* the building? And are you suggesting that a space isn't as holy if it was just previously used as a gym floor?
I'm not trying to be argumentative. I'm just curious where you draw the line on "sacred space" and how far you're willing to take it. I personally struggle to know where that balance is.
One of the great things about getting a bit older is that I have slowly lost the desire to critique and diminish other churches that don't value the same things I value and practice their faith like me. That is, providing that church doesn't spread the poison of spiritual elitism throughout a particular community. (Read: Well, read whichever church you feel fits that description in your community. :) ) It's good to be in a place where you can look at differences and say they are just that-- differences. Not better or worse, just different.
With that said, I think that anyone in a place like Waco with a million churches who visits a few and chooses one, is in a way critiquing all the others. In choosing UBC I was, in effect, saying that the small amount of churches I had experienced here (3), while good in some ways, for me was lacking in some areas. (That's not to say UBC doesn't lack in some areas, as well. I just decided those were not as important.)
I can honestly say, however, that I don't look down on churches who choose functionality over beauty. I also don't believe the two have to be mutually exclusive. There can be something truly beautiful about a congregation who decides to create a space that serves multiple purposes, assuming that decision was well thought out. I know of churches that build cheap and ugly edifices because they feel their money can be better used for mission endeavors. That is beauty. I know of churches that meet in a gymnasium, that is used during the week to reach out to those in the community. That is beauty.
I can read my last post and say "Amen," and I can listen to Tillie Burgin, Director of Mission Arlington and one of my spiritual heroes, preach about how as long as there are people who are trying to Love Jesus and their neighbor and trying to do both together, then it doesn't matter where you have church or what it looks like and also give a hearty "Amen."
I think functionality can be a good thing, provided there is a reason for it. In fact, I may have even given the impression that our building on Dutton isn't functional at all, which would be incorrect. A few years ago we got rid of our old ugly orange pews and replaced them with individual chairs that could be moved around. I was actually against this at the time. I think there's something VERY special about pews. When you sit in pews there is not a barrier between you and your neighbor. There's something beautiful about the messes pews create. It's hard to get in and out. If you drop something it's hard to pick it up. You can't really do anything in a pew without the approval of someone else. Pews make you think of an organic whole while chairs just scream WE'RE A BUNCH OF INDIVIDUALS. Yet, despite my objections the pews went bye-bye and the blue chairs came in, making our room much more functional.
A few months later, the functionality of our worship space made it possible for my close friends Jason and Christy to have their wedding reception in our sanctuary and it was one of the most beautiful, holy, life-giving and affirming experiences I've ever had. Were the old ugly orange pews in the way, I could not have had that experience in that place.
All that to say, "Amen" to functionality and "Amen" to inefficiency. Both speak volumes about who we are and can be beautiful and holy in their own way.