Museum church

I’ve seen a lot of interesting things in Europe so far. I’ve spent the first few days in Rome, and on Monday I went to the Vatican. Our group got to see the Sisteen chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest collection of historical artifacts, and a bunch of other really cool stuff. (What an uncultured way to describe it: really cool stuff)

The church is so beautiful, but it was so weird seeing a place that used to be used for worship being used as a museum. Tourists from all over the world come to experience the beauty of the architecture and art, but what does that reflect about the church itself?

It’s almost as if people come to observe “what people used to believe”, as if Christianity is a thing of the past. When the church building becomes a museum instead of a gathering place for people to come and worship the living God, true Christianity dies.

Most people would agree that’s true, but I wonder what implications that might have for the church in the North American context. When we are too attached to the past, we can lose anticipation and motivation for the future. Andy Stanley says, “When your memories exceed your dreams, the end is near.”

While this is true, I don’t think this means we should abandon tradition altogether. We have to embrace our Christian heritage, without compromising the vision and mission of the gospel. It’s a tension that must be managed.

What are your thoughts on the tension between the past and future? How does the church embrace tradition without becoming traditional? How does the church celebrate a legacy without becoming a museum?



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