Churches are some of the most common buildings in America. They can be found in every town and city across the country, from large to small, on street corners or a hilltop overlooking a city. You may have been raised going to church every Sunday morning, but do you know what goes on behind those doors? Here are few things that you might not have known about churches.
- The church building has not always been used for Christian purposes.
Church buildings have evolved, but the first churches were built by Christians who believed God was present in their midst and could be worshipped through services held inside their homes. The earliest churches were found underground or under trees, with later churches adapted from existing structures such as Roman temples and Greek theatres. The River Pointe church is an example of one place, originally built as a warehouse and later converted into a church in the 1940s.
- Many churches are built on sacred ground.
Some of the most popular church buildings around America have stood for hundreds, even thousands of years. In Europe, many churches sit upon an ancient burial ground that dates back to pre-Christian times and was once where people worshipped pagan gods with complex rituals. The Stavkirke in Norway is one such example – it’s believed the church sits atop a pagan sacrificial site known as a “helligdområde” or holy grove.
- Churches often serve multiple purposes.
Today, many churches are known for their weekly Sunday services, but they also provide several other important functions in the community and beyond. For example, churches can serve as homeless shelters and food banks, hosting concerts and weddings, providing childcare to parents who work during the weekdays, or offering shelter to those affected by natural disasters such as hurricanes.
- Churches often have a large collection of books.
In addition to being places where people worship, churches also function as libraries full of religious texts and works from prominent theologians. Many old churches in Europe were originally built with extensive collections of liturgical manuscripts and other important documents that belonged to the church’s founding family or organization.
Over time these families handed down their treasured possessions through generations until they ended up belonging to the church itself, which has preserved them for centuries while simultaneously augmenting its library over time.
Church buildings have evolved, but the first churches were built by Christians who believed God was present in their midst and could be worshipped through services held inside their homes.