A Worship Space Odyssey! Adult Forum, Jan. 15

By Wanda

In our first discussion, last Sunday, we explored the connection between our ideas and experiences about God  and how we plan and use our worship space at Old First.  We discussed three themes about worship space that occur in the story of God’s people.

Tent ~ God’s people worshiped in a tent/tabernacle in the wilderness.  Tent worship represents the movement and journey of God and God’s people.

Temple ~ God’s people worshiped in the temple on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. Tabernacle worship reflects the awe and mystery of God and worship.

Table ~ God’s people worshiped in homes.  Table worship reflects the community of God’s people and the connection between worship and community with Christ and one another.  Another term could be space that communicates that we are a  “house of worship”

Tom Long in his book Beyond the Worship Wars: Building Vital and Faithful Worship, summarizes the three themes:


“Follow me”


“Take off your shoes, this is holy ground”


“You are a chosen race, God’s own people, a community of faith, worship and fellowship”

This Sunday, Jan. 15 at 10 am, we’ll continue our conversation by thinking about what happens in our worship at Old First and the space where it happens.   Where are  the spaces that represent  the Tent, Temple and Table in our worship and what do they communicate about what we think about God and worship?

GATHERING SPACE:   A  TENT AND TABLE place.   The place where we merge on Sunday mornings from our Sunday School classroom,  the street where we parked, our home in the city or the bus we took across town.   A  path that leads to worship.  place to welcome each other and newcomers.  Our Gathering places are our downstairs and upstairs Foyers (or narthexes to use the technical term!). We could also include the hallway from the fellowship hall to the  lower narthex.

  • What role do these gathering places play in our worship?
  • Are these spaces arranged to provide an easy flow to the sanctuary?
  • Are these spaces warm? Hospitable?
  • What do these spaces communicate about how we understand ourselves as a church
  • What we believe about God?

MOVEMENT SPACE: TENT SPACE. Space that communicates that we are on the move and following God.  These are areas visible to the whole congregation in the center of things, where movement and active elements of worship can take place (such as prayer, music, liturgical dance,  baptism and other ceremonies of dedication)

  • Where is our movement space?
  • What does it communicate?
  • What role does it play in our worship?
  • Is it a major or minor role in our worship?

CONGREGATIONAL SPACE: This is TABLE  and house of worship space where we experience the “togetherness” of being God’s people and a community of faith with each other.

  • How does the arrangement of our pews help or hinder us as we relate to one another as a community?
  • What does our seating communicate about how we understand our relationship to one another in worship?
  • How are we doing regarding using art and visuals in our worship space?
  • Is congregational space a major or minor part of our worship?

CHOIR AND MUSIC SPACE: Because our musicians are both worship leaders and a part of the community the Choir and Music Space expresses themes of both TEMPLE and TABLE/house of worship.

  • What does the arrangement of the choir say about what we believe about the role of our choir and musicians?
  • What does it communicate about our worship?
  • Is it a major or minor role?

ALTAR/TABLE SPACE: The place where we share communion is both TABLE space(because we share a meal with one another with Jesus as the host)  and TEMPLE  space (because the Lord’s Supper is a special meal set apart from other meals)

  • Where is this space located?
  • Is it easily accessible?  Who has access to it?
  • What does this space communicate about how we view the Lord’s Supper?
  • Does this space play a minor or major role in our worship?

BAPTISMAL SPACE: Baptismal space is again both TABLE space (because we are God’s people welcoming new members) and TEMPLE space (because God is calling and welcoming as well)

  • Where is this space located?
  • What does this communicate about how we view baptism?
  • Does this space play a minor or major role in our worship?

PULPIT – LECTERN SPACE : Temple space where we hear God’s word read and preached.

  • Where are these located?
  • What do these spaces say about how we understand hearing and preaching Scripture?
  • Who has access to these spaces?
  • What does the space communicate about distance or closeness of the Word to the congregation?
  • Do these spaces play a minor or major role in our worship?