Building for the future



The author lays it on the line in his introduction. “My two passions are architecture and my Christian faith”. Fred Batterton’s new book Making property serve mission, subtitled “Rethinking the churches’ buildings for the 21st century” is both liberating and confronting as a blueprint for change.

Batterton asserts that “mission is the reason that the Church’s property was provided by its predecessors and mission remains the core”. This is a handbook for any congregation open to the challenge of identifying its core mission and considering what buildings would best serve that mission, regardless of sentimental attachment to the current arrangement of bricks and stones.

The first part of the book asks: “What is the church’s core business?” Of course, love of God and one’s neighbour, worship, teaching and discipleship. But what of a congregation’s particular local mission?

Part two follows with the inevitable next question: “What property do you have?” This requires an honest evaluation of the use the property. Hopefully it is not just “a religious club operating on a shoestring for the benefit of its members, locked up all week”.

Thanks to his architectural practice in the UK and in Australia, as well as his keen interest in solutions that others have found, in part three Batterton offers a wealth of case studies. His belief that “changes should be high quality examples of 21st-century architecture” should reassure the reader who fears that a beloved building might be replaced with something functional but dreary.

Phrases like “cost-effective, sustainable, reinvigorating engagement”, even “good coffee”, now come into their own. This is not hype or spin. There are the usual concerns and others besides: everything from car parking and ensuring buildings are welcoming to outsiders. Batterton has a thorough ‘how to’ list: professionals who may be able to help, processes and plans. Above all a ‘re-purposive’ that looks to the future with hope and confidence.
Strongly recommended, not just for decision-makers on committees but for any member of the congregation facing change.

Available at RRP Paperback $34.95 e-book $19.99


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