Tempe Crew

The Architecture Behind a Church

The design of a church has progressed over thousands of years, somewhat by modernization, and by copying other styles as per changing practices, beliefs, and native traditions. Since the beginning of Christianity the objects of makeover were mainly the architecture of the well-known churches like the Romanesque churches, Byzantium, Renaissance basilicas, and Gothic cathedrals. These were large and architecturally posh buildings with dominant features. However, elevation alone does not refer to radical changes. There are many modern congregation-spaces with modified design features that are associated with churches. Here are a few fascinating things to know about the traditional architecture of churches:

Church bells: These are located within the steeple and serves as a communication tool for the local townspeople. The primary purpose of the ringing of bells was to indicate the time to gather for church service. These bells were also used for warning people of an approaching army or a fire.

Steeple:  The inclusion of a steeple in a church mainly involved three functions. The first and the foremost is that the steeple’s vertical lines, which help to enhance the church lines such that it offered the viewer with a vertical view of the heavens. The second function of the steeples was that it gave the church buildings a pleasing feature aesthetically, which led to the promotion of harmony in the design. Thirdly, steeples were positioned on the highest architectural position providing a landmark for people such that it could be found from any part of the town.

Chancel: The chancel is the front part of the church where the service is conducted. The choir and pastors are mostly found here; this is usually a raised dais. However, in some churches, the chancel is not architecturally distinct. Nave: This is the principal and central part of a Christian church that extends from the entrance and is also referred to as the chancel.

Altar/Communion Table: The altar is the table that the clergy makes use for Communion. The term ‘altar’ was considered to be misleading theologically, during the reformation and it was known as a Communion table. However, the Anglicans decided that both terms were perfect as the altar is the place from which the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is received, and it is the table that people celebrate ‘Communion’.  Generally, Anglicans and Lutherans now refer it as the altar, while the Protestant traditional churches call it the ‘Communion table’.

Stained glass windows: The ‘stained glass’ term applies to the coloured glass made using metallic oxides and glass on which the colours are painted and fused in a kiln. The stained glass windows used in churches were popular right from the mid-12th century. The purpose of these stained glass windows in the church was to create a heavenly light that represented God’s presence and to serve as the bible of a poor man, to teach illiterates the Biblical stories. The use of stained glass gave away during the Reformation only to return in the mid-19th century as the Gothic style gained popularity in the United States and Europe.