Friday, December 15, 2006

Are Churches Replacing Altars with Stages? ,,

Pamela Jackson's new novel, On This Side of Heaven, reviewed here

Apparently this author feels that this is a problem because she has started a group called Restore: “I founded the RESTORE Group to help restore brokenness resulting from wounds created in the church, and to strengthen the body of Christ as a whole.”

The title of this book review caught my eye. Obviously, there are denominations within Christianity that haven't used altars traditionally. Since my tradition does use an altar and the speaker's platform, ie the pulpit, is off center, I feel like the "center of attention" is the altar and the cross. When I've visited in houses of worship in other traditions, I find myself wondering, "Why is my worship directed toward the pastor who is in the center of the platform?" Well, obviously, that is just a mind set. But I can see why morphing toward a "stage" with "performers" (in some people's opinion) isn't as great a change for some groups.

I've also wondered, when occassionally seeing TV "worship services" with this set up, do people who sing to God in public have to be so good looking? Do they have to dress to the nines? What about the praise, songs, and worship of the regular schmucks like me? If I were in one of these big "churches" would I be allowed to join the choir?


  1. I went to a Stephen Ministry seminar a few years back at the local mega-church. I looked in the "auditorium" and it reminded me more of the place where we had assembly in junior high school to receive lectures and threats from our principal. I know that some community churches are using this approach of minimizing religious imagery as a way to be non-threatening, but I find their approach more threatening than religious symbols.

  2. Ha, interesting reaction. When we needed to remodel the front of our church, for space and exit reasons, primarily, we made the communion rail removeable. The altar, pulpit and lecturn can be moved, but they are heavy. This gives us a traditional worship space and look for 99% of the time, but we have flexibility if we need it for programs or Sunday School plays, etc. However, we would never take down the cross when the space is used for other reasons.

    Religious images and symbols, like liturgy, remind us of our past, and, I suppose, for some that is a bad thing. But should people who were church going all their lives have to "suffer" the loss of these images just because some people have issues?

    Yes, we need to think about being welcoming and hospitable, but would we change our homes just because a certain person was coming over? I don't think so. Or maybe yes, as in, "get out the Bible, the preacher is stopping by. Blow the dust off of it."


And what do you think?