When people hear the word "church," many, Christian or not, picture a steeple. For those of us who went through years of Vacation Bible School, we just recited, "Here's the church. Here's the steeple. Open the doors, see all the people" in your mind or with your hands.
Steeples have a place in our churches, cities and lives. They serve as a visual statement of a church, a landmark altering the skyline of the city and a focal point for those of us going into church.
Historically, steeples served two main purposes – to help the congregant in his/her spiritual mindset by directing eyes heavenward, and as a design feature, which enhances the harmony of the architecture. Early on, steeples also served, much like stained glass, to communicate a biblical truth by devotedly pointing to heaven.
On October 21, First Baptist Church, Athens, raised their new steeple. The main reason was to fix a leak that has existed the 54 years that the cupola has. A significant bonus of making this necessary fix was to re-envision how the church needs to represent itself in the community. The church is located along the busiest intersection in Athens, so the community instantly notices what they do.
FBC Athens pastor, Kyle Henderson, Ph.D., has outlined what the steeple means for the church and the community.
This figure at the top of their steeple represents Jesus and the scripture rolled up inside of it reads, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself" (John 12.32, NIV). Also, included with that scripture is a document with the point of the steeple described and the signatures of the 100 church members who were there to witness the event.
The spire represents the Father and points up toward and holds up the cross and houses the scripture, "To you O LORD, I lift up my soul" (Psalm 25:1, ESV).
This has slotted vents that allow the steeple itself to breathe. It represents the Spirit and has inscribed in it, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" (John 3:7-8, NIV).
The connector does just as the name suggests: connects the two main parts of the steeple, but represents the church body connecting to God. In it is written, "For Christ holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it" (Colossians 2:19, NLT).
Inside the frosted windows is a light that will shine out to the city. The lantern represents the Bible being our guide. "Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path" (Psalm 119:105, NIV), is written inside of it.
The clock represents a moment in time and that every moment matters. Inscribed in it is, "Now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2, NIV).
The base represents the foundational concept of grace, and God's Grace is our message to the city. "There is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace" (Romans 11:5-6, NIV).