The Worship Environment

Source: The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, General Editor

The space of worship ultimately shapes the beliefs, sensibilities, and understandings of those who worship in its confines. The congregation shaped in the open air of the forest will be different from congregations shaped by basilicas, homes, storefronts, and public halls. Only in recent decades have the effects of space on congregational life been considered seriously. Space dictates the ways in which people interact with each other and with other objects in their environment. Over the...

Introduction To The Worship Environment

Since the arts in worship serve as vehicles of communication, the architectural space in which worship takes place is a matter of primary importance. Space speaks. It is a voice that says something about the action of worship. The symbolic objects of worship assist in communicating Christ's presence and ministry.

How The Architectural Setting For Worship Forms Our Faith

Every liturgical space reflects the theological commitments of its designers. Every time a liturgical space is used, those ideals shape the experience of those who worship within it. Space for worship must be designed with concern for the theological and liturgical commitments of a given worshiping community.

The “public Language” Of Church Architecture

Church buildings should be designed with consideration of how the general public will relate to the space they define. Church architecture is one language by which the witness of the church may be made known. Church buildings may be valuable to a community both as a space for communal activity and as a symbol of what community stands for.

The Church Building As A Home For The Church

The church building is the home for God's people, providing identity and a place in the world. The article illustrates how the change in liturgical understanding since Vatican II has changed the understanding of what a church building wants and needs to be for God's people.

The Church Building As A Setting For Liturgical Action

The following comments discuss the relationship of the design of the worship space to the actions that take place there. The function and significance of these actions provide the needed guidelines for liturigical architecture.

From Devout Attendance To Active Participation

This article argues for an environment of worship that encourages the full participation of the people and complements the symbolic meaning of the actions of worship, particularly the sacraments. It is written in the context of Roman Catholic worship, but reflects the concerns of nearly all highly liturgical traditions. Many of these have been emphasized throughout the Christian church, given the recent phenomenon of liturgical convergence.

Pulpit, Font, And Table

The following article examines every aspect of the worship space, reflecting the unique perspectives of the Reformed tradition. With regard to many concerns, the similarity of the Reformed view with other views expressed in this chapter is quite striking-a reflection of how much various worship traditions have learned from each other.

Space For Worship: A Baptist View

In addition to concerns raised in earlier articles, Baptist churches are designed in order to facilitate communication among worshipers and to serve as settings for evangelistic services.

Space For Worship: A Brethren View

Noting that the New Testament does not advocate retaining the elaborate rites and liturgical spaces of Old Testament Judaism, the Brethren tradition emphasizes simplicity in its design of the worship space. The Table, with its bread and cup, are the only symbols present.

Space For Worship: A Praise-and-worship View

The praise-and-worship tradition involves a variety of worship leaders who usually lead services from a center platform or stage. This article suggests ways of seating and arrangement on the platform that may maximize communication between the worship leader, the worship team, and the worshiping people.

The Problem Of Worship Renewal In Present Worship Space

Many existing church structures present problems for current efforts at worship renewal. In particular, these structures may fail to emphasize the primary symbols of Word, font, and Table or altar. They may also significantly restrict movement around these primary symbols and leave little room for the congregation to gather for worship.

Six Architectural Settings And Worship Renewal

The assembled body of Christ is a primary visual symbol. The way people are seated affects the ways they relate to each other in worship and has much to do with their experience of community. There are six different architectural settings for worship currently in use. Each setting is briefly described and illustrated below with comments on its relationship to worship renewal.

Historical And Theological Perspectives On Acoustics For The Worship Space

One of the most important aspects of the worship space is its acoustical properties. This is so because of the importance of sounds in worship, the sound of verbal proclamation and musical prayer and praise.

Acoustical Design For Congregational Singing

Congregational singing can be effectively stymied or greatly encouraged by the acoustical properties of the worship space. Recent trends in church architecture have unfortunately led to the use of more acoustically absorbent materials, which is harmful to this important aspect of worship. The following article provides helpful advice to remedy this problem.

Questions To Ask About Your Worship Space

This article asks the kinds of questions that force congregations to think about the power of their worship space to form worship that is faithful to the gospel and meaningful to all participants. The questions are asked in light of the Reformed tradition, but can be modified to reflect the specific theological commitments of any given worshiping community.

The Process Of Building And Renovating A Church

The article illustrates the importance of identifying a process for making decisions in building and renovation projects. The final product will satisfy the community's needs only in proportion to the time spent in soliciting opinions, educating the members, and consulting experts.