Every day when I come to church, I walk in the main door, and I walk in the back of the sanctuary. From there I walk all the way to the front of the sanctuary to where my office is, and I sit down and start working. At first it feels kind of strange to have an office right off the sanctuary. This is particularly so in times like this when churches are becoming assimilated into the corporate organizational mindset and have office wings or annexes or even office buildings.
Not my church. I pastor a small inner city church. Our church building was a Presbyterian church and was built in the early 1930s, with all of the wonderful classic Reformed architecture. The pastor’s office was probably placed right off the sanctuary so that the minister could go right from his (they were all his-es at that time) office to the front of the sanctuary, a pretty utilitarian purpose. In fact, I still take advantage of this proximity, I don’t have to traipse all around the church in my robe before worship (Yes, I wear a robe, I’ll write about that another time).
But the placement of my office right off of the sanctuary is also meaningful to me because the sanctuary is the first thing that I see when I come in, and I walk through it multiple times per day. It is hard for me to slip into this idea that I run a business or that I am a coporate executive. I am a pastor, I lead a congregation. Worship is the focal point of what a church is, and therefore it is the focal point of my life as a pastor.
Many days I like to spend some time and just sit in the sanctuary. It helps me to refocus my understanding of my role. I am not the executive of a corporation, I am a Minister of Word and Sacrament, called to lead this community to love God, and to love others, which must all be centered in worship. It’s fitting then, that I see the sanctuary and go through the sanctuary multiple times per day, it reminds me of the purpose of my calling.