catapult magazine

catapult magazine


2 cultures in 1 building---at the CROSSROADS so to speak.


May 11 2005
02:09 pm

Imagine a bright Yellow Green paint color (remember the old Michael Keaton Batman movies…sort of a Joker shade of lite acid green) along with an intense purple.) Then add a deep red, also dark red & black & grey brick veneer, an auto parts artwork suspended from the ceiling with chains, add various graffiti-style signage and generally “out there” artwork, with a brilliant, black & white tile floor [b:26940c0a2e]& you have a description of our large new youth center.[/b:26940c0a2e]

Fill this radical site with 100plus noisy messy teens per week and 80-100 decibels of LOUD music (you can barely hear yourself talk sometimes) and step over the popcorn teens sometimes throw on each other to relieve their tensions of the day—-their parents screaming at each other, the problems at school, their best friend doing cutting, etc. etc..

Various culture friendly, current teen ways to communicate Christianity are used (with a good deal of success) to make these teens feel loved, wanted, and eager to find Christ.
[b:26940c0a2e] We’ve ministered to goths, freaks, jocks, etc. etc. They (so far) don not seem afraid to walk into our church building in a designated back entrance which is locked out from the rest of the church.

OK, that’s one part of the equation.[/b:26940c0a2e]

Now picture this sometimes raucous youth center moved into a new, pristine, beautifully decorated church building. The semiformal, immaculate decor includes soft, greyed colors, carpeting & furnishings that beautifully harmonize together. All decorations, couch groups, etc. are tastefully arranged with oil paintings, elegant couches, tables, silk flowers, books.

There is a kind of library, sitting area in the atrium when you arrive. There is a lovely auditorium where one can sit on comfortable large cushioned chairs to hear the band and a good used grand piano also.

There are beautiful murals hand painted in eggshell paint in all the children’s rooms thru 5th grade. The wall & mural colors harmonize well with each other. The church is truly an art piece. People who took the first tours last Sunday gasped in amazement and praise. but of course such a pristine environment has a lot of rules concerning how it may be used. A big change from coming from a school building with no carpets, fragile furnishings, wall coverings, etc.

Thus, the rules of usage will be more strict so that the building is not damaged. the long run, how will the raucous youth center (the greatly effective)fare in such a pristine, semi formal environment?[/u:26940c0a2e]

So far, I commend my church for “putting up” with such a discordant note as the large youth center…with its outlandish, yet self-harmonizing decorative scheme. I’ve seen the shudder (bravely contained) on a few adult faces as i painted some of the graffiti on the wall.

The rather garish youth center, however, truly fits the great design principle which (I think) came about in the 20th Century as a reaction to Victorian fussiness..
..[b:26940c0a2e]Form Follows Function. [/b:26940c0a2e]

the extreme, bizarre [b:26940c0a2e]form [/b:26940c0a2e]and shape and decor of our teen center follows its stated [b:26940c0a2e]function[/b:26940c0a2e]-
—to reach the youth (unchurched also) of NW Indiana, by speaking the visual language of their particular subculture..


Jun 05 2005
06:27 pm

in reading your entry, i think of my own church, which has two cultures which are even more vastly different than adults & teens—anglo-americans and hispanics. we’re trying to make this bilingual/bicultural church work, and it’s been going along well for the past 8 months, but sometimes it seems like the church thinks it is not doing a good job at evangelizing if there aren’t enough anglos that walk in, which disappoints me, as i primarily work with the spanish ministry. i just thought your cultural comment was interesting.



Jun 06 2005
10:33 am

My dad attended Salem Evangelical Free Church when a child. A Logan Square, Chicago church that was once Norwegian speaking, with large buildings across the road for newer Norwegian immigrants.

At some point, they dropped the Norwegian language (I think in the 70’s) . At some later point, they also shared the building with the newer Hispanic neighbors.

When I last visited in the late 1980’s, the “Anglos” technically not Anglo Saxon but Scandinavian, close but not the same… were the smaller congregation of the 2 sharing the building. The church, tho in a big Latin gang area at least then, had no graffiti (It’s work in the community apparently got the respect of the gangs).

The former property down the street of this once wealthy church had been donated for a neighborhood park. The large buildings which had once provided temporary housing for newer Norwegian immigrants now held some elderly who needed housing. Thus the church still served God and the immediate neighbors…How they did all their cultural transitions, I do not know. Would be great to talk to some longtime church leaderss, both Norwegian American & Hispanic, & get insights.
And the church down the block had been closed some time earlier because it apparently did not adapt to the changing neighborhood.

I hope & pray your church works out whatever transcultural issues it needs to address.


Jun 08 2005
09:08 am

I found my “form follows function” quote came from Louis Sullivan in about 1896. A famed Chicago architect, he left behind some of the overly ornate late victorian stuff & built some of the first skyscrapers. The ones standing I have seen live on…

I would add [b:1397bdcb4c]“form follows function”[/b:1397bdcb4c] for church and other buildings, ad campaigns, even business cards which are designed for a purpose…[b:1397bdcb4c]or…the “form fails” no matter how beautiful. [/b:1397bdcb4c]Thus, the most award winning item (building, business card, etc), if it does not properly serve the persons for whom it is designed…it fails, even if beautifyl.

, I recognize the need for the picture, sculpture, etc. for its own sake…Just as in nature we see lots of excess beauty, so in our artwork…[/b:1397bdcb4c]