Fellow Christian, how would you feel if you knew that your church would be best remembered, not for its spiritual impact, but for its building?
This is the current state of affairs for the historic church in Europe. On Saturday, along with a colleague, I visited the eighth most popular tourist site in France (according to Wikipedia) – Mont St. Michel. Occupying a 47-acre land mass, Mont St. Michel houses an abbey, church building, and a surrounding community. Although it still functions as a religious site, Mont St. Michel is a classic example of the transformation of a building’s predominant purpose from “church” to “museum”.
The general story surrounding the founding of a chapel at Mont St. Michel goes back more than a millennium. Aubert of Avranches was a bishop in the 8th century who was reputed to have received a vision from the Michael the Archangel, instructing him to build the chapel on the tidal island at the mouth of the Couesnon River.
France today is a highly secularized country. It is reported that only 4-5% of the population attend church services at least weekly (down from 27% in a 1952 survey). I read of a survey that only 26% of Catholic Christians (accounts for almost all Christians in France) have read a Bible in their home.
Upon reflection, I ask this question: what perception of the Christian faith might one get from a visit to Mont Saint Michel? Continue reading Do Better Buildings Make Better Churches?