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Contextualism A Place for People Andrew Duffin, Director NBRS+PARTNERS

I now see ministry staff using this word ‘contextualism’. How well does my church sit within the neighbourhood? Do I understand the fabric of my neighbourhood? If it is an established context then most likely the white Anglo Saxons who slaved so hard to establish a church have long moved out or if the context is a brand new suburb such as in the ever expanding Sydney west, do we really understand the emerging culture and demographics? How do we do church in a relevant context? Trends in building design are slower than trends in fashion. We’ve all noticed that over the last 20 years ministry staff are wearing less and less. Gone or going are the gowns with collars and bands. They want to meet people on their level – dress like them. Likewise our church buildings want to meet people where they are at. That’s why so many emerging churches meet in schools, community centres, in private homes: places that are human scale and comfortable. Not a place where your only memory is of being forced to dress up for an uncle’s funeral, thinking this is way too serious and too cold. Contextualism is all about breaking down the barriers... The No Barrier Church. I’m sure there is a chord here where churches want to be open and more gracious to all comers. Walk down any street and the forms, the shapes and the transparency reflect who we are and define the psychological attitude of the building...is the church entry the smallest little portal to squeeze through that it becomes so disarming and disengaging? We have somehow created the place where we want people to enter as the narrowest and most impenetrable. From the outset we create a disconnect. Look at shopfronts... it’s all about maximising display... in other words what you get is what you see. After 2000 years the relevance of Jesus Christ is very fresh and cuts to the marrow whatever your culture, whatever your DNA. Those who make up the church carry the message of Jesus and so the people in our streets look to us to see Jesus. Our Christian meeting places need to be transparent, welcoming, truthful, open, part of a community, humble and contextual.

For a long time architects have advocated contextualism: the idea of contextual fit. Does the form and fabric sit within the streetscape, the neighbourhood patterns, and texture of the adjacency?

Gregarious  

Gregarious (2011) was a one-day conference to support Churches and Christian organisations across Sydney in reinventing their worship spaces...

Gregarious  

Gregarious (2011) was a one-day conference to support Churches and Christian organisations across Sydney in reinventing their worship spaces...

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