The Difference Between a Church & a Synagogue

by Chad Stetson

Jews and Christians have places they go for worship. Although the mission or goal -- worship -- is the same, the actual processes differ. Jews worship in a synagogue, and Christians worship in a church. Not only are their places of worship different in name, many aspects of them are distinct.

Function

Christians and Jews make their ways to their churches or synagogues to worship and pray. However, Jews use their synagogues as houses of prayer, study and assembly. Synagogues typically are places to meet with other Jews and to study Jewish doctrine.

Purpose

The overall tasks of a church and a synagogue are also different. Many Christians believe that the purpose of a church is to convert nonbelievers to a Christian life and to bring in new members. Others believe that the purpose of the church is bring communities of Christians together. Jews believe that the purpose of a synagogue is to educate and assemble believers. They go to synagogues to learn and to study. They also discuss problems with each other. The biggest difference between a synagogue and a church is that Jews do not believe that the synagogue is a holy place.

Inside

The interior of a church is much different than the interior of a synagogue. Throughout a church are many objects that are religious in nature. A church also has an altar, where communion takes place. There is usually some kind of cross in a church. A synagogue is basically just a building. There are many rooms, and usually a large hall for gatherings. There are religious objects that offer followers a piece of symbolism. The everlasting light hangs above the Holy Ark in all synagogues.

Gender

Families, women and men participate in church services. All members of the congregation sit together throughout the service. In a Jewish service, men and women are seated separately when they are participating in a sermon. Women usually participate from the balcony, with men seated below.

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