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.

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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.

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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.

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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. This article outlines some of these problems and is therefore instructive for congregations who may be designing new spaces for worship or renovating old ones.

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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. One point of contrast among traditions concerns the understanding of the sacraments and how that understanding is reflected in the design of the worship environment.

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An Environment of Worship that Fosters Devout Attendance and 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.

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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 liturgical architecture.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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