Part and parcel of my makeup is a love for architecture and interior design, its not because I’m metro, well maybe a little. My wife surprised me with a wonderful new book as a Valentine gift, The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton, I’ve been on my hobby horse for awhile concerning how important it is that pastors have interests beyond the pews and preachings they regularly are surrounded by. She also got me a Putnam book I’ve been wanting, Bowling Alone: The collapse and revival of American Community.

I’ve long felt that architecture and interior design is something overlooked in the way we approach ministry. Largely I think this is more a fact of time versus expense versus social leverage, than an intentional love for all things functional and aesthetically vague. But its something I’m concerned about because I think, not as strongly as Botton, that our surroundings contribute to our happiness and the safety we feel in engaging in very personal and vulnerable discussions – like God, politics, and ethics. I think the church needs to be careful how she demonstrates her values to the world. What is she saying to the world when they look at her physical possessions, are we demonstrated a deep and wonderous love or art and creation?

Here’s a quote from Botton;

“One of the great but often unmentioned causes of both happiness and misery is the quality of our environment: the kinds of walls, chairs, buildings and streets that surround us. And yet a concern for architecture and design is too often described as frivolous, even self-indulgent. The Architecture of Happiness starts from the idea that where we are heavily influences who we can be, and it argues that  it is architecture’s task to stand as an eloquent reminder of our full potential.” (Alain de Botton in The Architecture of Happiness)

When I moved my fiance into her urban loft it was important to me to find a place that was architecturally beautiful (we’re renting so that makes it difficult), and also invest the extra time in interior design (so they had to be flexible with allowing us to do things to it). I did this partly because I knew the stress and speed of our lives over the next two years would be tough, but also I did this because I was hoping to lead conversations on the Christian Story in our place. We did this all last summer and part of the Fall, it was called ‘Life Without Walls’.

I believe the atmosphere of our home helped ease visitors and friends into wanting to be more open and vulnerable with the conversation. I also believe the aesthetics helped them be more open to the Word shared. What are your thoughts or opinions on these notions? I believe this line of thought can easily be pushed to far or to fancifully, but I also think most of us probably neglect considering these matters.