Cathedral vs. Church: What is the main difference?

Last week, as pastor of my Church, I mentored a small group of youths interested in the Church’s leadership. They were interested in different topics that pertained to leadership in the Church. Among the most intriguing questions asked was if there was a difference between a Cathedral and a Church. Most of them were curious to know why some places of worship are called Cathedrals while others are simply churches. We had a long and fruitful discussion about a Cathedral vs. Church. So, are they different?

According to religious teachers, the main difference between a cathedral and a church lies in the leadership. A cathedral is a church run by a Bishop, whereas a church is any place of worship that a pastor heads.

Join me in unraveling the differences between the Church and the cathedral in the write-up below. We will look into the definitions of Church and cathedral. Also, we will learn whether a cathedral is more vital than a church. Read along to find answers to these and more.

Cathedral vs. Church: Differences in definition

Cathedral vs. Church
Cathedral vs. Church. Image source: Pixabay

Based on Christian literature, a church is any place of worship led by a pastor where Christians can gather for worship. It could be a small or large building that can accommodate congregants for service. On the other hand, Christian theologians suggest that a cathedral is the main Church within a diocese that a Bishop heads. According to Christian teachings, they are of the idea that a cathedral is any church that a Bishop heads; it could be small and without fancy features. Physical appearance does not define what a cathedral is.

Differences between a cathedral and a church

As Christian teachings suggest, leadership is the main difference between a church and a cathedral. A pastor or priest leads a church, whereas a bishop heads a cathedral.

The other difference is that a cathedral is the main Church within a diocese. It implies that it is where the Church holds any important diocese event. In comparison, a church is one of the many where Christians come together mainly for Sunday services.

As Christian teachings imply, churches mostly have one weekly service on Sundays. In contrast, cathedrals have more than one mass; they could be three or more in a week.

Is a cathedral more critical than a church?

Christian theologians explain that a cathedral holds a higher rank than a church, making it more critical. Since a bishop governs a cathedral, it gives the cathedral more importance. A bishop has a higher rank than a priest or bishop. There are functions that a bishop may only perform that a pastor cannot; therefore, a bishop will oversee these events. One of the functions includes ordaining and supervising the members of the clergy.

Why is a cathedral not a church?

Cathedral vs. Church
Why is a cathedral not a church? Image source: Freepik

As the Christian doctrines explain, a cathedral is not a church since it follows a hierarchy. Just as there is a hierarchy in different setups, it equally applies to the Christian setup. Also, as the Christian theologians imply, a cathedral shows the leadership of a diocese which is essential. Without a defined hierarchy, it may not be easy to have governance and direction within the diocese.

Why are some churches called cathedrals?

According to Christian theologians, cathedrals are churches. The presence and leadership of a bishop are what makes them cathedrals. Therefore, when Christians refer to their Church as a cathedral, it is the principal Church within the diocese. It is important to note that not just any church can be a cathedral, as mentioned, only that which a bishop heads.

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