Church Executive CHURCH DESIGN TRENDS | Page 4

Doan: Community trendsetting is the process of leveraging a church facility to serve as an attractive community gathering area. Walking into a church on Sunday morning might feel intimidating, but stopping by a community center on a Friday afternoon for a cup of coffee has a much lower barrier to entry. These facilities can also serve as places for support groups to meet, students to study, and families to unwind and reconnect. Effective facilities can foster engagement and attendance growth, and provide a revenue source. Engaging outdoor areas and multipurpose spaces can fill the community center void, offering something for everyone, and prioritizing hospitality can help foster modern community. James: Space that ministers to families with special needs children — safe, controlled, comfortable environments for their care and safety — are on the rise. Design beyond Sunday is another momentous change, and I’m a huge proponent. Church is more than a weekend experience; it’s a Monday- through-Saturday lifestyle of meeting needs, ministering to others, and connecting with one another and the community. Finally, design for connection. The current generation loves to download a message or learn on their commute, but they also need to connect with others. We must offer spaces for that, all week — and for young people, well into the night hours. Likewise, are there design trends that are likely to fall off, popularity- wise? Why? Strickland: Large reception desks. Instead of a greeter standing behind a kiosk, he or she can be more proactive in meeting guests in a space designed for seating and gathering. This makes the entrance feel less transactional, and guests can feel like part of the group right away. Allen: Since I need to say something about “design trends,” we’ve seen the church café design trend being eliminated by churches for a variety of reasons. The two primary ones are time (specialty brew addicts might miss the worship) and money (more ministry, less comfort). Other trends that we think might change include sanctuary stadium seating (the negative can be that it gives people a place to escape from the community) and the elimination of sports fields and other site amenities (communities already provide them, and eliminating them frees up additional funding for ministry and promotes more community interaction/participation outside the church’s walls. I will mention here that we don’t consider haze-and-light shows “design trends.” Rather, we consider them to be vital elements in certain types of churches for which the mission is to be seeker-intense. Doan: Single-focus spaces, to serve only congregants, will continue to decline in popularity. We’re now seeing worship spaces double as concert venues and Sunday school classrooms being used by community organizations all week. James: Large, multi-venue campuses are being replaced with multiple single-building locations that reach and connect with people in geographically centered locations. Jones: A few years ago, it was common to see 3 -D images with cars, rollercoasters and other objects coming through walls. While theming is still very popular, the types of theming seem to be more subtle, using architectural components, shapes, colors and video. Also, worship room seating sizes are getting smaller. While some are still being built, we’re seeing fewer rooms in the 3,000 -plus-seats range. Churches are opting for smaller spaces (around 1,500 seats) and then going multi-campus to accommodate growth. 4 CHURCH EXECUTIVE • C H U R C H D E S I G N T R E N D S Let’s talk about church design trends you see on the horizon related to specific, critical ministry groups: Children Strickland: While our shared goal is always to provide secure environments children are excited about, the trend is to make these spaces more customized and larger-than-life. Children thrive in special places they intrinsically know are just for them. Plus, if kids look forward to going there, it’s easier on the parents. Allen: More security — every church is unique in how it handles security; the solutions vary from total lockdown to complete freedom of access to all. We believe (like most everyone) that the safety of children is job No. 1 and that each church, with our help, defines its solution. Due to the direction our culture is going, we expect security will increase over the next few years at all churches. Less theming — I’m not attempting to discourage wonderfully themed children’s areas; however, I believe what the children hear and feel in their hearts is far more important than what they see with their eyes. I believe we’re sometimes creating incredibly themed children’s spaces for the adults, not the children. Have you noticed that a child will often play more with the box the gift came in than the gift? Doan: Consider a nursery that can be used throughout the week, an outdoor playground and lawn, and technology-enabled classrooms for various age groups. Beyond traditional uses, these can be enjoyed by a variety of community groups, including Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, school clubs, and sports teams. James: Creating space for ministry, not just childcare, is critical — for worship, play, teaching and fun. Moms love available children’s space during the week, and it provides connection with other mothers. And of course, safety and security are always priorities. Jones: Reaching young families with school-aged children living at home is a priority, and it requires a secure, dynamic children’s ministry area and program. In our culture, it’s important to understand that children take their parents to church. They’re attracted to facilities that don’t look like their school buildings. So, areas with modern theming and video components are very common. Additionally, parents must feel like their children are in a secure environment. McCormack: Children love to explore and tinker. And it’s the little things in life that bring the greatest joy. Imagine arriving the first time to see a “magic” button that allows Grandma and Grampa, or other family members, to walk through a door that opens by itself. The next week, brothers and sisters are running to be first at the button! Youth Doan: Youth want independence. Provide them with an exclusive space, away from their parents and separate from a dedicated children’s space. Incorporate areas with large-screen televisions for youth to play games, on a variety of systems. Also, integrate unique presentation tools that allow anyone attending church events to follow along and interact with by using their electronic devices. James: The right youth space feels like “their own church.” It’s a place to hang out, connect, go all week, worship and learn. Creating a vibe that students feel “fits” makes them want to bring others along.