New research showed that people who don't go to church may be turned off by a recent trend toward more utilitarian church buildings.
By a nearly 2-to-1 ratio over any other option, unchurched Americans prefer churches that look more like a medieval cathedral than what most think of as a more contemporary church building.
When given an assortment of four photos of church exteriors and given 100 “preference points” to allocate between them, the unchurched used an average of 47.7 points on the most traditional and Gothic options. The three other options ranged from an average of 18.5 points to 15.9 points.
“Quite honestly, this research surprised us,” said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research and LifeWay Christian Resource's missiologist in residence. “We expected they’d choose the more contemporary options, but they were clearly more drawn to the aesthetics of the Gothic building than the run-of-the-mill, modern church building.”
Stetzer suggested that the unchurched may prefer the more aesthetically pleasing look of the Gothic cathedral because it speaks to a connectedness to the past. Research showed that younger unchurched people, between the ages of 25 to 34, were particularly drawn to the Gothic look.