The Bell Tolls for Church Steeples for the Saddest Reason

Heather Chaet

steepleI'm aging myself here, but did anyone else play that hand game, where you lace your fingers, point up your index fingers, and then open them up, saying, "Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door, where's all the people?" and then redo it with your fingers on the inside? Well, sadly, our kids won't be able to do that ... as the church steeple is going the way of the dinosaur, the VCR, and Milli Vanilli. The steeple is slowly going extinct.

Are you curious as to why ... or maybe you kinda, really, sorta don't care?

I care. I think I do anyway. I care because these architecturally interesting elements to churches are another casualty of the recession. Church congregations around the U.S. can't afford the upkeep, can't afford to keep these structures sound and safe and maintained. This is sad. Maybe there won't be a tower anymore, just speakers with an electronic bell sound, controlled by an iPad. Picture it: a church with no steeple. Where will the bell toll? Where will pigeons go? Heck, where will the hunchbacks go?

But is it the recession in the economy ... or the recession of faith? Congregations are getting smaller, less people are going to church these days, which means less money in the coffers. Which is a larger issue, I guess. Some want the look of a church to be modernized. Some are saying that churches need to be more inviting, more like malls to get more people to come ... ummm, yeah, methinks that's a bad idea.

Is it really the structure of these buildings of faith that needs to change -- or should how we view faith itself, religion, and the way people worship be re-tooled? Instead of making where we explore our faith like where we buy a flat-screen, tampons, and a new tennis racket, why not be sure it is nothing like where we do that. And in order to make that happen, well, I think we may need something large and different and noticeable ... like a steeple. Hmmm.

Do you care if a church has a steeple?


Image via maveric2003/Flickr

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