One in seven British Christian teens say a visit to a church building was a key factor in influencing them to adopt their faith, according to a new study. Nearly one in five said attending a religious school was the major factor in preserving or introducing their Christian faith.
“This shows the power of church buildings – they are powerful for all sorts of reasons,” the bishop of Worcester, John Inge, told The Telegraph. “They give a sense of stability, and also the sense that the Christian faith has inspired people to build these extraordinary buildings.”
Far fewer British than American teens call themselves Christians, but among both demographics faith has declined markedly over the past generation. “The study suggests that new methods invested in by the Church, such as youth groups and courses such as Youth Alpha, are less effective than prayer or visiting a church building in attracting children to the church,” The Telegraph reports.
“Things which we would class as old hat methods are some of the more effective ways,” Jimmy Dale, the Church of England’s national youth evangelism officer, told The Telegraph. He said the study results “shocked” his team, although other research shows architecture that provokes awe reduces the prevalence and severity of mood disorders and even local neighborhood enjoyment.
“It’s a real wake-up call for the church – we’ve got lots of young people who are coming into churches with school groups and that’s a really integral part of them becoming a Christian,” Dale added.
Research like this undergirds our belief that good aesthetics are important to help people love and live the good life. This is why we introduce children to great artists, are grateful for the beauty of our chapel and church building, and are working to beautify our school classrooms and grounds. Beauty can help people love what is good, just as beautiful church buildings in England helped draw young people to the Christian faith.