Monday, April 21, 2014

Sanctuary vs. Worship Center

Driving to work today I was bugged when I saw a sign on a church directing people to the 'Worship Center'. This has been brewing in me for some time and I think I finally figured out why.

It used to be that most all protestant churches, even 'low church' denominations called their worship space a sanctuary. More and more though I'm seeing them renamed as 'worship centers'. This bothers me as it seems to me that we lose some of the holiness of gathering as 'church' this way. It's a mindset. Sure, whenever two or more are gathered in His name He is there and all, but Church is more than gathering together.

Even before I was Catholic, I always felt there was something special about the sanctuaries of traditional style churches. The pews, the weathered songbooks, the podium, the choir loft, the baptismal area, and the communion table all gave the feel that this place was special, set apart specifically for the worship of God. That's the very definition of holy or sacred.

Today's 'worship center' has none of that. It could be any room with chairs and a stage. While, again, we can certainly worship God in ANY place and should be doing so in all times and all aspects of our lives I think we really lose something by getting rid of the 'sacredness' of our churches.

The thought that concreted this in my mind this morning was that when we do this we risk church being about what WE do for God, and less about honoring what God has done for us.

Just my thought for today!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this -- you managed to express in a few words something that I'm not sure I could. Especially the label: "sanctuary" = something sacramental, liturgical; "worship center" does denote to me something in a strip mall -- I picture the energy and emotion of a camp or conference, which is a very good thing, it just doesn't fill the hole that a "sanctuary" is necessary to fill. Tonight Roommate and I were discussing the different types of church environments where it's easy or difficult to feel/see Jesus' presence. I think that too many people get stuck on the idea that theologically it doesn't matter whether you pray in a forest or by your bed or in any type of building, consecrated or not. That's true ... but there's also this need to kind of go back in time and stand there with Jesus at the table, and that's just a lot harder to do in a nonconsecrated environment without a liturgy. Not impossible to do and not wrong to try, just ... harder, you know? Anyway, that was the thought I wanted to make sure to get down before it slipped out of my mind. I liked the last part very much, too. It drives me crazy when people try to make life about either what others do for you or what you do for others and don't see the multilayers beyond those simple categories. It has to be the same with God -- He is the creator, we are the creatures, it's His rules and not ours -- if we can help each other simultaneously, I think that almost has to apply to God as well, and true worship being truly relating to Him on His terms. That's not easy to do when you remove all the different vestiges of structure, and it's easy in this world to not even be able to recognize what God's terms are. I like that you care, and that you invite me to come along with you.