We are quickly approaching Christmas which means many people will be visiting churches that don’t typically do so.  Is your congregation ready?  Do you have good signs in place so the building is easy to navigate?  Are greeters lined up and congregation members ready to welcome guests with love and respect?  If your congregation is doing its best to Be the Church, these are likely things you’ve already thought about.

But, how about the words we use while we’re making announcements?  Do you know what a narthex is?  Did you know that most people who don’t go to church don’t know what it is?  According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, a narthex is 1)  the portico of an ancient church 2)  a vestibule leading to the nave of a church.  (The nave is the main part of the church.)  Basically, the narthex is the lobby or entryway of the church.

Why don’t we just say that?  If you do in your congregation, that’s great!  Most of the congregations I’ve visited still use the word narthex, telling people to “go sign up in the narthex” or something like that and then they wonder why guests don’t ever sign up for anything.  It might be because they don’t know what a narthex is!  (Some members don’t know either, and are too embarrassed to ask.)

Are there other “churchy” words that are commonly used that could be changed to be guest-friendly?  Please feel free to share any you’ve noticed!  (I’m not talking about things that change the message of the Gospel, but rather words like ‘narthex’ that are not essential.)

These are important things to think about and they will help congregations be more welcoming to guests who come through the doors of a church building.  However, the way each of us as individual Christians act in the daily activities and routines of everyday life will either encourage or discourage others from joining us in worshipping Christ this Christmas (and in the future).  We must seek to find ways of serving the people we meet with the love of Christ because when we do, they will want to meet the Christ of Christmas.

What do you do in your daily life to intentionally serve others?

About the Author
Beth Schlueter


I have a passion for ministry and worship, and feel called to preach and teach with an emphasis on rebuilding and strengthening Christ's Church in America. After much prayer, I am ready to step into this call... [More...]

One Response to What is a Narthex anyway? (And other things to consider)
  1. As someone who started going to church as an adult, I can totally relate to this… Especially the “narthex” word.

    I’m pretty sure that’s one of the first things I had to ask… “What the heck are they talking about when they say to sign-up in this narthex thingee?” Of course I learned what it was, but if we just start getting in the habit of naming parts of the church with labels an unchurched person understands, it prevents a lot of initial confusion. When people are confused, they are uncomfortable.

    Another one might be “meet us in Fellowship Hall after worship for treats.” While many fellowship halls are labeled, I’ve noticed sometimes they aren’t in a visible location, so people don’t have any idea where to find it. Perhaps its in a basement, or another wing of the church. If its not readily available, visitiors will most likely just walk out the door rather than seek it out.


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