A Place To Worship

by Arleen Kaptur

If you belong to a congregation, no matter the religion,
sooner or later you will be asked for suggestions or
ideas for improvement. The church leaders would like
to know how to reach out to more people, what do
individuals look for when searching for a house of
worship and other such questions are usually the
norm. If not a formal inquiry, then a suggestion box is
usually placed in a prominent place for all to contribute
as they see fit.

Suggestions and opinions have been presented across
the world. They range from – we need a bigger parking lot
to the color of the entrance doors. They may range from
the need for more groups or even sports for the younger
generation. All these are important in their place but not
to the question presented. What the real quest is what
people look for in a house of worship.


When someone is seeking a home for their prayer life and to find
spiritual guidance, the size of the parking lot and the number
of clubs is not on their agenda. While these may improve the
social lives of the church group, they do not entice those whose
purpose is what the church purpose should be – to provide the
place and resources to grow spiritually and to reach out to beliefs
and doctrines as they choose to embrace.

In other words, when someone enters the church or chapel are
the words being spoken reaching their hearts, and are the concepts
and the ideals touching their souls. Spirituality is very personal and
people sometimes are not really sure what the void is that they feel,
but they know it when they encounter it. It may be the warmth of
the clergy or the love that is felt as soon as they open the door. It
may be something as simple as the reverence and awe-inspiration
they sense as they join the group. The prayers or word images make
them feel at peace or at least hopeful. It is not a “thing” that needs
to be considered, it is a feeling, an emotion, and it is spiritual. Many
times members who have been members for a while lose the reason
as to why they are where they are at the moment. They prayed here
for years and now their contentment has lost the real meaning as to
why they really are there. The idea to worship, find peace in their souls, love
and acceptance seem to have been put aside. The prayers are
a memorized repeat and the songs, well, they are just there. Nothing
special but okay.

The reason churches,chapels, and houses of worship are there is to
provide a service. They provide the means here on earth to reach to
the heavens and also to reach deep inside of each individual. It is a
mutual quest to find reason for the journey and the means to reach
the end. It is comfort in knowing they are not alone, and it is pride in
knowing that they can walk the walk even though they falter and fall
sometimes. Prayers are a way of expression, and the color of the
walls, while impressive, do not make or break a relationship with the

The next time you walk into your house of worship, picture yourself
doing it for the first time. What are the emotions that arise in your
spirit and are you satisfied? Is this a place that you will find the peace
that we all seek, or is the hum of voices at meetings on the lower
level what seems to be the central theme? It will never be what the
true reason of a house of worship is – unless it exudes its
purpose like a song from the mountaintops. The parking lot will not
bring in new converts, but the joy in this house of God most assuredly
will. Look at the other members and
see the light in their faces which can only
come from their souls. If it is so bright that you instantly know they are being fed soul-food, then you are on the right path in your choice of a place to call home. So, the next time you are asked for suggestions, put the material
aside for a while and ask your heart. It just may surprise you with a
suggestion or opinion that you kept under wraps because it just got
muddled away with the social activities.

If each church sought first the true spirituality of its house of worship so
that its members were given all the tools they needed for their trip through
life, then the rest would just fall into place. The Almighty would also smile
on this place of prayer with sunshine and souls so rich in belief and goodness
that the dark of the night would be lit up around the world.
Just think about it.

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