Wecome to Logia, the personal blog of Paul Hartwig. Reflections and resources to enhance understanding of what God has revealed of himself in Scripture.
Architecture and floor plan in church buildings is a theologically instructive study. For most of christian history, formal ecclesiastical buildings were designed to express Christian belief, The seating arrangement, the position of the pulpit or lectern, the place of the Communion Table, baptismal font etc were very often theological statements and changes were seen as heretical. I think it is important that we think about this issue again, and intentionally construct a Christian layout to our worship venues that is theologically orthodox. Before I tell you what I think this should look like, consider the changes that have happened over time:
The Early Church: there was no real pulpit or religious furniture since they met in homes. Yet the Word and the Lord's Meal were vital and shaped their meetings.
The Medieval Church: with increasing sacramental theology, the altar became the centre piece of the service and thus the focus of building and floor plan. The lectern or pulpit was placed to the side.
The Protestant Church: with the Reformation, the altar was exchanged for the Pulpit and the Lord's Table was placed under the Word. (Lutheran and Anglican churches kept an 'altar'). In many Reformed churches, such as the Zurich churches under the reformer Zwingli, the table was a place where the worshipers came up to and sat to eat of the Lord's Supper. It was not a symbolic table but a functional one.
The Modern Church: the stage and music team is the centre piece, with the pulpit exchanged for the music stand.
Thus the progression (or regression) has been: Word & Meal > Altar > Pulpit & Table > Stage & Music Stand > ?
I think it is time to signify who we are and what we are doing in our meetings by placing the Pulpit & the Table back to centre stage. The Table is a symbol of Communion with Christ, the Head of the Church and His people present. This communion should be the goal and intent of our gatherings. The 'Table' expresses peaceful fellowship vertically and horizontally, for us made possible through his shed blood. The Pulpit is also central, for we are a people created by the Word of the Gospel. It is the divinely ordained means to what should happen at the Table. Much more can be said, but I trust you will think about the importance of having a Pulpit and a Table restored to their rightful places in Christ's church. The Lord speed the day when the Pulpit and Table are fulfilled among us.
A few weeks ago I walked past a house under construction. But I not only walked past it I also thought about something as I walked by (my multitasking is making huge strides forward as you can observe). How similar the church is to a construction site! On a work-site all is unfinished, there is lots of noise, lots of rubble, lots of activity and everywhere you look things don't look good. Yet how stupid the anxious owner would be to expect anything less! Any owner with his head screwed on properly should not be angry at cement in a flower bed or half-bricks on his lawns. He should know that such things inconveniences accompany any construction work. Yet how unrealistic you and I are about the church which Jesus is still building!
We become petty and upset about so many things. Sometimes Christians even think of moving to another church where things will be 'decently and in order' (= no building work going on). No such church should exist! Though society may mock don't let the imperfections on God's site put you off. Use your imagination and see all that Jesus is doing in the midst of the mess.