The quakes in Christchurch are not yet finished so not much is being repaired as that could be premature, though as much as possible is being made safe. We are a boy's wonderland of bits of wood and metal holding up fences and walls lest they fall never to rise again.
That gives the churches a bit of time for reflection on questions of rebuilding - and not only the churches because there are plenty of other public edifices to ponder the future thereof. Of course in the pondering sit an array of insurers, assessors, engineers, architects, heritage boffins, bankers and other financiers all with their bit to say. Owners of buildings may even get to put their views in! But perhaps theologians could elbow their way into such discussions.
In my mind some interesting questions are emerging.
What is the value of a building? What is the value of one building versus another? For instance, if a limited amount of restoration money is available and only one of two heritage buildings can be saved, which one gets priority? Alternatively, if there are homeless people in a great city such as Christchurch, is it more important to house them in functional accommodation than to restore the (expensive) glories of our finest stone-and-slate buildings?
For churches there are a number of questions to add to the mix. Is our obligation in providing buildings for worship to the future or to the past? Of course, in some cases buildings from the past serve us well: many couples love the fact that we have an amazing collection of beautiful churches in Canterbury in which they can have their wedding and lots of lovely photos as well! Certainly there are a number of churches which represent the greatness of church architecture's historical development and thus offer brilliant 'sacred spaces' in which to meet with God. But there are also considerations about comfort (generally our oldest churches are our coldest churches!), about ongoing costs of keeping historic buildings in good order, and about whether churches located on excellent locations in the 19th and early 20th centuries remain in good locations as the city changes with 21st century priorities for roading, housing, and shopping.
One final thought for today: in the Bible, God's people are no strangers to building, rebuilding, and rebuilding again. Think Temple, destruction, restoration and rebuilding. But there is also an interesting history of flexibility (Tabernacle) and adaptation (Christians meeting in homes, on river banks, and in public marketplaces).