Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Narthex: More than a Point of Entry

This view looks towards the east doors. This part is a smaller space running behind the sanctuary, which is behind the walls to your left.

The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection has the best narthex I have ever seen in a church. For the uninitiated, narthex is the churchy word for lobby or foyer. In some traditions, it has the history of being the place where people who per that particular church's tradition could not sit in the church sanctuary itself (also called the nave) for the service. They could hang out in this space, sometimes a room outside the nave, sometimes a porch, and hear the goings on in the worship service.

Making our way towards the main part of the narthex, near the bookstore and coffee shop. The bookstore is setting up for a worship conference.

In the Protestant tradition, all can come into the worship service, so the narthex functions more like a lobby or foyer. A place to gather before or after--a place to visit together.

Looking north and west. Bookstore is on the right. The Children's ministry area is through the dark doors on the left. That's a building, joined to the sanctuary building by this area.

In many churches I have been in, the narthex has been a bit of an afterthought. It has not been very welcoming, it has been too small, and/or it has not had a good traffic flow. College Church of the Nazarene has a terrible narthex for a church its size. One church I belonged to made enlarging and changing the flow of traffic in its narthex a major point of a renovation project. It made a big difference--the resulting space was much friendlier and easier to use.

This view looks south. A group of folks is getting together after a baptism.

At COR, the narthex also contains the coffee shop. This means that the whole entry point to the church has this wonderful smell of brewing coffee--a most lovely smell--and very welcoming.

Taken from the coffee shop area. WiFi is available. The stairs lead up to the balcony of the sanctuary. (Oh, that's Alison.)

The whole area has lots of windows letting in huge amounts of light during the daytime hours and just looks open and inviting. You can also see that COR's purpose, vision and journey statements are placed in the space, to remind regular attenders of why we come, and to intrigue the inquiring and searching.

After the five o'clock worship service. Taken in November, therefore it is dark out.

Without a doubt, to this point in my Christian life, the narthex at COR is the best I've ever been in.

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