For many in the Church of England and in society at large there has long been huge confusion over what "the church" is. A few years ago I got given a book for Christmas entitled "England's Thousand Best Churches" by Simon Jenkins. I immediately rifled through its pages trying to find St Bs - surely we were in the top thousand! But I was to be disappointed because the book was about church buildings. So I was struck when I read what Ryan Venn-Dunn had written about the reactions of young people to the Go and Grow project:
Back in the summer, we hosted some Year 10 classes from a local school. We showed them some pictures of our plans for Solar House and asked them "What do you think is the better building for a church - this one (our Holden Road site) or an office block?" Most of them responded by saying that our current building was better. When asked why, they all said something along the lines of "Well... because it is a church". We in turn responded by talking about how church is a movement of people rather than a static building, using illustrations from the early church.
This problem seems to be rooted deep within our psyche; whether familiar or unfamiliar with Christianity, many people still struggle with the idea of what exactly church is and many feel that it is inaccessible. I see our move to Solar House is part of a larger story that will activate the imaginations of people to grasp what church is and communicates to everyone in North Finchley and beyond that we are serious about reaching out to them and making them welcome.
The very act of moving a church from a traditional brick and stone arched building to an office block is a polemic to the widely held notion that a church is a building. Some may struggle to understand this, yet for those who do, a new vista of what the church could look like will dramatically open up.