What Do You See?


Recently I was asked to list things in the sanctuary that could use some repair or updating.  I diligently made my list and then I put it away for a while and then pulled it out again.  I changed my list as I began to study and reflect on what is important in our worship space and the placement and significance it has in our worship. 

I finally gave it to the person requesting it.  It was a long list of various things; some were small repairs that I noticed.  Others were larger projects that might need more than just my opinion of what should be done.  But one question started repeating itself in my mind, “What’s important in our worship space?”

As a musician, I am in the worship space at least three times a week if not more.  But many times, I go in there, do what I intend, and leave.  But how often have we sat in the pews/chairs and looked at our worship spaces in order to see how God is revealed? 

What is in our worship space?  Does it reflect the Trinity?  God?  Jesus Christ?  The Holy Spirit?  Are they reflected equally?  One more than the other?  Is something absent from our worship space?  Of the things that are important to the congregation, are they in significant places?  Are they visible to the entire congregation?  Are they tucked in a corner or behind something?  Should they be?  Is any of this important at all?

I looked on the internet for churches that recently built a new worship space or renovated their current space.  Setting the polished, updated décor aside; I found it interesting, as I viewed the pictures to notice the congregation’s focus in their worship space.  Typically, most had had a central focus of some form or another.  One church had a picture of their newly renovated front area of their sanctuary.  In the center was a drum set, the piano was on the far side on congregation’s left and the organ console was on the congregation’s far right.  Above the piano and organ were built in screens.  It had no symbolism that it was a Christian Church.  Other spaces I viewed were rich with symbolism, crucifix, altar area, a kneeling rail, or a substantial pulpit.  Some spaces had a small podium in the front with a modest communion table; but it was a very clean space with little to distract the worshipper.

I also observed of those congregations that had strategically placed furnishings typically had a descriptive paragraph about the significance of the furnishings or the purpose of the arrangement.  Some descriptions were also of historical significance to the congregation.  Most descriptions of the congregation’s worship space reflected in some degree their philosophy of worship.

So what about your worship space?  Is it inviting?  Does it reflect your congregation’s meaning of worship?  Or is it “just a space?”

Looking at the first of the 10 Core Convictions from the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship we read:

“A vivid awareness of the beauty, majesty, mystery, and holiness of the triune God.”

Do our worship spaces reflect the Triune God and invites people to worship God in a manner that is described in the core conviction? 

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