I love to look at houses – just not new ones. Looking at pristine, staged homes reminds me of the day I spent in a hotel room with my kids, subjected to hours of the Disney channel. Yes, those adolescent actresses are just as cute as can be, but they aren’t very interesting. They need more years hung on them before they have any character. What’s a few dents and dings if the structure has stood the test of time? (Or that’s what I keep telling my husband.)

It’s the same with houses. While perusing real estate websites I often wander to the international pages and find buildings with a past – structures that had character before our continent had horses. One trend that interests me is the converting of old churches into residences. In Europe, these gorgeous vacant buildings are being remodeled, some with stunning results.

This former church is for sale in Scotland. Charming, isn’t it? I could do without the tombstones, but look at what they did to the inside. Can you imagine waking up to the morning sun rising through a diamond-paned leaded glass windows or walking through arched doorways decorated with a 12th century coat-of-arms? Amazing.

And yet I have mixed emotions. It’d be a blessing to live in a sanctuary that housed God’s people – to be surrounded by walls that witnessed answered prayers, joyous praise and heard the truth of God’s Word preached for centuries. On the other hand, where are the believers in this town worshiping now? Was this church abandoned? Is this evidence of a European trend away from Christianity?

Since we won’t be moving across the pond anytime soon, the dilemma of whether living in a defunct church would be exhilarating or depressing will remain hypothetical. In the meantime I’ll do my best to create my own sanctuary. The remodeling our house most needs has less to do with paint and tile than praise, prayer and fellowship. We don’t have to live in an old church to practice the presence of God.

What’s your dream home like – physically and spiritually?

P.S. Here’s the website if you’d like to see more church-to-home conversions.


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