Church Executive CHURCH DESIGN TRENDS - Page 5

For senior high students, separation from the main crowd is important. McCormack: Many churches sponsor youth organizations that engage their members in the process of volunteer fundraising for accessibility projects. The Scouts BSA, Girl Scouts and many other volunteer groups are regularly involved in this process. Raising funds is accomplished by the coordinated efforts of church leaders, parents and youth — a perfect opportunity to share and grow faith among our young communities. Strickland: Increasingly, churches are calling upon us to reimagine their youth ministry. It’s all about sparking engagement — flexible spaces that provide youth with opportunities to worship, study or socialize in their own way. Designs often include digital technology, full-service cafés, movie rooms, game rooms, a variety of seating styles, and assembly space. The environment should be energetic and unique. Millennials Doan: Millennial church attendance is declining at an alarming rate. One reason is that Millennials want to feel like they’re experiencing a genuine environment, without consumerism involved. So, creating simple, engaging spaces is essential — coffee shops, greenspaces and flexible meeting areas for organic fellowship. James: Millennials and Generation Zers are hypersensitive to good use of space; it must have a purpose beyond a meeting room. So, multipurpose space is a good investment. Also, they care more about how a space feels and functions than its architecture. They use words like “warm,” “inviting” and “open,” not “beautiful,” “ornate” or “liturgical.” Jones: We’re seeing an effort to target Millennials with co-working spaces and extended-hour coffee venues. Often, these are located in the Commons area. Strickland: Lately, churches are looking for a central fellowship hub — especially Millennials and young adults. These spaces have a streamlined look that invites active, dynamic experiences. We make sure the interior design is contemporary and vibrant, with updated finishes and new audio/visual technology that are appealing and comfortable for all groups. Young families James: A safe, secure, well-marked church campus is key. The first impression should convey there’s a ministry for the entire family. Young families want to know: What needs is my church meeting? Are my children well cared for and taught the Word? Are my marriage and finances ministered to? Is there an opportunity to use my gifts? Does church connect us with others doing life like us? Young families are uncomfortable leaving their kids at a distance, so your children’s space shouldn’t be a building away from the entry or main worship area. Inviting, clean and life-giving space communicates that a church values children. McCormack: The challenge is to pass faith along to our children. The good news is that the largest attending population is in the 30 - to 49 -year- old range. They’re raising families, and many begin to attend church with aging parents. As accessibility issues arise among older individuals, church entrances and restroom doors must present a pathway rather than a hindrance. This is critical to sustain family involvement, especially in the face of declining church attendance. churchexecutive.com Doan: We’re seeing an increased emphasis on inviting, safe children’s spaces, and areas dedicated to fostering community among parents. Community-focused, family events are occurring more often on church campuses, including back-to-school rallies, fall festivals and outdoor movie nights, driving the need for family-focused indoor and outdoor church spaces. As churches expand their campuses to attract and accommodate new members, they also want to ensure longstanding members (some, no doubt, resistant to change) are engaged in the process. How can church leaders walk this fine line? Strickland: When we approach a project, we start with the church’s mission. The mission defines the church’s ministries, and their ministries define the development of their facilities. This also ensures everyone starts on the same page. As architects, it’s our responsibility to keep stakeholders — including longstanding members — engaged in and comfortable with the process. Doing so makes people more open to change. Once the project generates momentum, there are great opportunities to create a vision that everyone understands. This provides the best results for a phased development plan to meet the facility needs at each step of the church’s journey. In the end, it ensures the facilities align with the mission and ministries. McCormack: The second largest attending population in churches is between 50 and 64 , followed by the 65 + age group. The active engagement of church leaders, elderly members, parents and youth in accessibility projects presents the unique opportunity to bridge the faith gap between generations, and encourage the most efficacious human endeavor — face- to-face communication and accomplishment. Allen: We believe that the intense programming process in which we engage with the church clarifies the church type, and the church type clarifies how and why we should design for both newcomers and long- standing members. Some churches are far more concerned with maintaining membership; others are completely dedicated to new converts. Both are concerned with the needs of the other group, but their dominant type directs their mission, and their mission directs their building design. Doan: Collaboration is the key to creating a space that attracts new members and ensures long-standing members are happy. To better understand the programmatic needs of a church, our team discusses goals with staff members and other stakeholders and surveys the congregation. The information gathered is then used to define spaces, adjacencies and priorities, effectively molding the design of new facilities. We then determine the right areas for growth, adjacencies that align with internal processes, how to maximize the use of resources, and how existing facilities can be modernized to best meet current and future needs. James: Using technology is one of the best ways to create space for multigenerational congregations. Even amid long-standing architectural elements, new video and lighting creates a completely different feel. A team that has designed for ministry from the last decade to present day can encourage and coach pastors. Our job is to lead, help, and provide them with tools to communicate the “why” of changing design trends. Jones: This is a very important issue. Churches can’t simply turn their backs on the legacy group when reaching for future growth. It’s disrespectful of those who brought the church to where it is today, and it has the potential to alienate a group of people who can help to fund and staff new ventures. Creating spaces specifically for the legacy group to accommodate fellowship, or a venue that allows for a traditional style of worship, can show honor and gain buy-in. C H U R C H D E S I G N T R E N D S • CHURCH EXECUTIVE 5