Church Sells Out to DaVinci

February 23, 2006 by

In other DaVinci Code news, there’s the story of the Winchester Cathedral selling out. First the cathedral opened its doors to the film-makers for almost $35,000 after Westminster Abbey refused. Now Winchester Cathedral is considering charging tourists almost $7 each to tour the cathedral.

While it’s easy to accuse the cathedral of selling out, the building does date back to 1079 and will need almost $7 million in repairs in the next decade, while facing a potential $1.75 million deficit in the next five years if they don’t act.

It all gets rather complicated when a church building becomes more than a church building. Historic buildings become tourist attractions, and the church has to balance potential outreach to tourists and maintaining a piece of church history with a modern congregation. Do they leave the building behind and let a secular company run it as a tourist spot, or do they hang on and try to preserve the history and spiritual connection?

It’s a unique problem–you just don’t see many businesses trying to operate in a 1,000-year-old structure. It’s also a problem fairly unique to Europe and its ancient cathedrals.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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10 Responses to “Church Sells Out to DaVinci”

  • Kenny (Blaqenedwyte)
    February 23, 2006

    Not just Europe – When you walk into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan you are immediately faced with a gift shop to your right.

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  • s. zeilenga
    February 23, 2006

    Ah, yes. It is at times like these I thank God that the Church is far more than just a building.

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  • RC
    February 23, 2006

    I imagine Winchester Cathedral hasn’t been used much anything too spiritual lately any ways…
    if the church is the people…I imagine that this has just been a building for a long time.
    I hope they sell lots of postcards and shot glasses.
    –RC of

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  • Aaron
    February 23, 2006

    The other day I was walking through our church building thinking that it was just an old outdating building when it hit me. People meet Jesus and encounter God here. This is one place that we as christians/leaders have total control over everything that is heard, seen, and felt. For one hour every Sunday morning we bring people in and cut out all the distractions and do the best we can to help them experience God.
    I realize that much ministry happens outside the walls of the church and many people come to know Christ in all sorts of places but a majority of them (at least where I live here in the crotch of the bible belt) make that final commitment at the church.
    If Winchester Cathedreal is simply charging 7 bux to walk around the building and look at things then I would consider it a sell out. But I think a much better idea would be to bring tourists into the church and give them some sort of experience that helps them understand the awe and wonder of God then I believe that would be a powerful outreach tool.

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  • Ron Gehrke II
    February 23, 2006

    I’ll let people tour my bathroom for a quarter if it means I can keep doing ministry.

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  • jt
    February 23, 2006

    There’s a historically well known cathedral building in Singapore. Because its preserved by the government here as a monument, refurbish and no longer a place of worship – now you have pubs and restaurants in that cathedral. and occasional wedding ceremonies. Do have to agree that by the church alone to maintain the building is not easy…

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  • Diane White
    February 23, 2006

    The spiritual connection is not in the building it is with Christ. The building is part of our heritage and should be repaired. Let people pay a fee to tour it. I would be more than happy to give a little to see such a site.

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  • Nancy A
    February 24, 2006

    This whole concept of “selling out” intrigues me. I first heard it from a Christian woman when Amy Grant started singing popular music.
    I think it comes from some idea of Christian exclusivity: that Christians can only do Christian things. This creates what my spouse calls “the Christian Parallel Universe” — you know, Christian romance books, Christian sex manuals, Christian rock music, Christian comics, etc. The whole “Christianity, Inc.” phenomenon.
    Whereas same said Christian woman told me she would not participate in a silent worship meeting (Quaker) because meditation “wasn’t in the bible.” She wouldn’t do yoga exercises either (and believe me, she needed to!).
    It’s this kind of boxed-in, blinkers-on thinking that creates the mentality that can talk about “selling out.”
    This comment has nothing to do with $7 admissions to a church. I’m just saying that I think the basic concept here needs closer scrutiny.

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  • Brad
    February 24, 2006

    It seems to me that tourism falls outside the scope of what a church should be doing. I wouldn’t generate many new Christ followers or provide much growth and development. Most tourists would probably not live nearby. Therefore, any connections established by the tourism would probably only be temporary. With limited time and resources, a church must pick the most effective methods.

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  • John Swaringen
    February 27, 2006

    –sarcasm on
    I think it’s amazing to think that somebody would pay $7 to visit a church. That would mean that there is something there worth $7 a visit. I know people who visit my church every week, and haven’t paid a cent in years!!
    –sarcasm off
    Seriously, I think if they actually present the gospel and the truth about the Da Vinci Code, that would be an amazing opprotunity to get people to listen.
    And they’d be paying for it!!
    –impression person=”yakov smirnoff”
    What a country!!!
    –impression off

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