The design and shape of space in some measure determines and interprets the activity that takes place there.

Winston churchill once said, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”

Consider that statement in the context of your home. If someone walked into it and declared, “This is exactly the kind of house I pictured you living in!” how would you respond? Is your personal space sometimes a prison because it improperly serves your interests and needs, or is it a haven with room for your growth, development, and comfort?

If someone offered to build you a house that would reflect as clearly as possible the essence of who you are, what would you specify? Would it be closed in with small rooms and few windows, suggesting a withdrawn person? Or would it be open and spacious with many windows, high ceilings, and lots of color reflecting a gregarious personality? Would it be simple, plain, neat, and pragmatic, expressing commitment to a simple lifestyle?

Churchill made an important point. There is a definite correlation between a given space and what happens within that space. And within the Christian framework, the outward shape of a structure ought to be (in fact, is, for good or ill) determined by the inward spirit at work in it.

To apply this thinking to church architecture, one foundational question must precede all discussion of particulars: What is worship? Only when the purpose, nature, and action of worship are grasped can the next question be entertained: How can the interior use of space reflect and enhance what we do within our church buildings?”

The Purpose Of Worship

The purpose of worship is to glorify God for who he is and what he has done. The Gloria in Excelsis Deo proclaims him “God in the highest ...

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