The Narthex: This is the entrance hall to God’s house. It provides a transition from the outside world into the main part of His house. It is similar to a foyer in a house where the guests are greeted as they enter your home.
In this space, we greet each other as we come and go from God’s house, receive the outline of the service, and provide a book for visitors and guests to sign.
The Nave: As you move from the narthex into the main worship space, you are entering the area called the nave. The nave is the space where the people gather for the service. It is usually filled with pews or chairs. Nave comes from the Latin word navis (“ship”) which gives the picture of believers gathered together in God’s protective ship.
The Chancel: The chancel is the area where the altar and pulpit are located. It is raised above the nave so that the leading of the service can be seen by the congregation who are seated in the nave. The pastor uses this area to proclaim the Word of God to the people and from which to administer the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
The Sanctuary: The sanctuary is the area closest to the altar, the area surrounding the altar. In some churches this are either raised an additional step or surrounded by a rail (a wooden “fence” at which those receiving the Lord’s Supper may stand or kneel) or both. In some churches the chancel and sanctuary are the same space. The word “sanctuary” is often used to describe the whole worship space.
The Sacristy: The sacristy is one of two spaces set aside for preparation for worship. Sacristies are designed for the preparation and storage of Communion elements, candles, paraments, and altar cloths. The sacristy usually has running water. God’s Word does not require such a space put it helps the congregation do things in a reverent manner.
The Vestry: The vestry is a space set aside for the pastor to prepare for the service. Its name comes from the fact that the pastors vestments (alb, cassock, surplus, and stoles) are kept there.