Texas Baptist Voices

The theology of church architecture

I once spoke in a church that featured split podiums at the front of the sanctuary. The smaller, less-ornate or lower podium was referred to as the “lectern,” I was told. From it, lay people, worship leaders and guests give announcements, pray, sing solos and read portions of Scripture. The other podium, the pulpit, was reserved for the Gospel reading and the sermon itself. Because of this tradition, the right side of the communion rail, the pulpit side, is referred to as “the gospel side,” I learned.

jeff johnson130Jeff JohnsonI also spoke once during a Holy Week ministerial alliance “pulpit swap” in a church where the baptistery was located right beside the pulpit—convenient—and full of water at all times, I might add. First Baptist Church in Commerce is among the garden variety of Texas Baptist churches with the Lord’s Supper table centered with pulpit and baptistery behind the choir loft.

Allow me this week to introduce you to a team of “architectural theologians.” Yes, theologians. Throughout church history, the design of a church facility often has revealed as much about a congregation’s theology as the hymns and sermons voiced within it.

Keith Crouch leads our Texas Baptist church architecture team. They work with Baptist General Convention of Texas churches of all types—traditional, contemporary, small and large, new church starts, missions, languages and cultures, cowboy churches, vaquero churches, churches that do not own but lease space, churches relocating, Baptist associations and encampments.

First Baptist Commerce needed some answers and coaching when we recently remodeled our children’s area, and we found them from Keith and his team. They also are helping with our worship center stage renovation. texas baptist voices right120

They will provide a host of answers for questions regarding church business-related issues, such as property purchase, general security, childcare security, safety, environmental hazards, taxable land use and state-licensed day care. They also will make suggestions regarding the physical changes necessary to make existing preschool and children’s spaces safer, while also considering accessibility requirements.

Need wisdom on pre-purchase analysis of buildings and property? Are you considering the purchase of undeveloped land or existing buildings?

Contact Keith Crouch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , and a member of their team will help you clarify your “architectural theology.” You will be glad you did.

Jeff Johnson is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and pastor of First Baptist Church in Commerce.

Care to comment? Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Maximum length for publication is 250 words.

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