Buildings

The Church is the people – it is not simply a series of buildings.

The Church is universal – it exists world-wide and includes many denominations.

The Church is holy – the word ‘church’ comes from a number of Greek words, but the idea is that it is a gathering of people called out to live holy lives

There are a number of ways in which the shape of the physical church building reflects the beliefs of the people who attend that church:

  • Cruciform – cross shaped, which highlights the importance and centrality of Jesus’ death on the cross.
  • Barn style – a rectangular shaped church with the eye drawn towards the front where the pulpit is. The focus is on the preaching of God’s word.
  • Hall and Tower – similar to barn style but with a tower. The tower may symbolise that God is a safe tower, a place of refuge.
  • Circular – symbolises the importance of people sharing equally in worship together.

Some people prefer a plainly decorated church as they feel it does not distract worshippers. Some believe it is a waste to spend money on buildings when that money could be given to help others. Some believe that the decorations can become the object of worship rather than God Himself. Baptist churches, gospel halls and Brethren churches are examples of plain churches.

Some people prefer a decorative church as they feel it creates a sense of awe and creates the atmosphere of the church being a holy place. This allows worshippers to reflect on the splendour of God. God’s temple in the Old Testament was ornate to reflect His glory, so some people feel churches should also be ornate. This creates an atmosphere of respect. These churches may include stained glass windows in order to focus worshippers’ attention on God. Anglican churches are an example of decorative churches.