Your modern house of worship may not have a sacristy or a transept, but it probably has a lot of the special parts of a church, even if you don’t use those terms.

Check out this list of church architecture terms and see how many your church has:  

  • Aisle is the space for walking between pews. This can also be called an alley.
  • Altar is the table where mass or communion is celebrated. These are usually made of wood or stone.
  • Apex is going to be the highest point of a church arch.
  • Aumbrey is a cupboard where the sacrament is kept.
  • Belfry is the room where church bells hang.
  • Butress is a support for a support. These are added on to support existing walls. These are common on castles as well!
  • Chapel is a separate area of a church that has its own altar.
  • Cruciform is a church that is built in the shape of a cross.
  • Font holds (possibly consecrated) water. This is used for baptisms.
  • High altar is the main altar in a church. Some churches have multiple altars, but this is most important one.
  • Lectern is a desk where people give readings.
  • Narthex is the area located west of the nave.
  • Nave is the main area of the church.
  • Parapet is essentially a low guard rail that surrounds a roof.
  • Pews are of course where the congregation sits! They’re crucial for the sermon
  • Pulpit is where the preacher delivers his sermon.
  • Sanctuary is where the congregation gather for the sermon. It’s technically the main area that surrounds the altar.
  • Tabernacle is the container that holds the sacrament. It rests on the altar.
  • Transepts are found in churches that are built in a cruciform. These are the parts of the church that are built at right angles to the main area.

Depending on your church’s denomination, location, and style, you may have just a few or many of these. Now you know!