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How our Heritage shapes us

‘We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us’ Winston Churchill

We are not always aware of the extent to which the location, nature, accommodation and layout of our buildings shape the way we think and operate and consequently shapes our planning for the future, our starting point is therefore likely to be historic.

Buildings are a significant influence, and church families understanding of the church, its mission and vision for the future can be shaped by the building they occupy as well as by their inherited and historic theology and understanding of being Church in that place.

Many Church premises were constructed for a very different pattern of Churchmanship and the natural process of major reordering and rebuilding has not kept pace with the changes to the Church family over the last century. The majority of Church families therefore occupy and are shaped, influenced and restrained by the buildings shaped by past generations.

If new building works do not fully reflect and facilitate the nature of the Church today and allow for the process of change they will have an adverse shaping influence on the ongoing work of the Church family.

It is also important to recognise the part that the strongly held views and visions of individual members can play in shaping or restricting responses to building needs.

Buildings must be a response to mission not a determining factor. When making strategic decisions it is therefore of great importance to understand how we are shaped by these factors and the part they may play in disguising the real issues that we should be responding to. It is important to step aside from the way things are done at present, to start with visions and dreaming dreams and compromise later.
Inherited institutions and buildings are a source of comfort to the established Church family but very often a very real barrier to others when reaching out.

As individuals and Church families we are shaped by:

  • Our inherited theology
  • Our inherited location and local distribution
  • The responsibility of continuing and reflecting our forefathers work
  • The concept of holding in trust for future generations
  • Custodianship of historic buildings we seek to, and are required to preserve
  • Our emotional ties to the building we know
  • Recently completed investment in building works no matter how ill conceived
  • The communities relationship with the building
  • The desire for financial security