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.
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.
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.
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.
As worship arts, the visual arts include architecture, sculpture, painting, mosaic, and the crafting of artifacts. These arts create durable objects that may be seen and handled. Although of lesser importance in the biblical perspective than some other art forms, the visual arts may serve as effective windows into the holy.
The architecture of the synagogue reflected its function as a place where the Jewish community gathered for prayer, the study of the Law, and other activities. The synagogue often borrowed architectural features from the prevailing Greco-Roman culture.