Church Executive CHURCH DESIGN TRENDS | Page 6

Is multi-ministry space right for you? By David Strickland, AIA, LEED AP BD+C When designing for a new space, today’s church must consider many factors to meet the evolving needs of its congregation and the goals of its ministries. New spaces must be impactful, yet practical. They must allow you to continue the momentum of growth, but in a smart, deliberate way. With all this in mind, there’s one central question that never seems to go away — Can we afford this? One potential answer to these issues is multi-ministry space. Like the name implies, it’s essentially space that can be used for different purposes at different times. You might have a space like this in your current church — a worship space that can be used for fellowship, a gym that can be used as a fellowship hall, or a meeting room that can be used for several small groups. Multi-purpose space allows you to meet multiple ministry needs while maximizing value and potentially avoiding long-term debt. This is in complete contrast to the former model of building a new space for each distinct ministry as the need arises, which can lead to heavy short- and long-term expenses. And the added bonus of choosing a multi- purpose space is that you don’t have to decide which ministry gets the new space and which one doesn’t. Multi-ministry space is perfect for churches in which: • Several ministries urgently need new or larger space at the same time • Each ministry’s needs are entirely unique • The budget does not allow for every ministry to have its own new, dedicated space Multi-purpose space in action In my experience as an architect, I have seen multi-purpose space become the heart of the church. Having a shared, mutually familiar space bridges connection between community members. It also invites them to find ways to practice their faith no matter their setting, bringing the worship experience into their fellowship, education, arts and more. It takes significant planning to design a multi-purpose space with the resources and versatility to serve several ministries. An architect that routinely designs churches can design a multi-ministry space that considers different furniture arrangements, technology applications, and interior theme and infrastructure concepts. If you’re not sure a multi-use design could work in your space, here are a few aspects to consider. 6 CHURCH EXECUTIVE • C H U R C H D E S I G N T R E N D S • Consider fan-shaped seating. It offers good sight lines and is easily set up by putting a platform on one of the longer sides of the rectangular space. • S hape the room with slight angles at the perimeter walls for improved acoustics. • Strategic selection of basic building materials that can serve the structural needs while benefitting the acoustic environment. • Integrate state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting equipment in a high structural roof system that can be used for large groups whether in worship, fellowship or a recreation setting. • Plan for generous storage space to stack and store chairs, tables and recreation equipment. • Install retractable divider nets in front of the platform to provide protection for instruments. • Construct a kitchen next to the multipurpose room for the preparation and the serving of food for fellowship functions. Worried that some aspects of the multipurpose space might be distracting? Modern churchgoers prefer to be engaged in an immersive worship experience and may not notice subtle expressions of alternative use elements. They care more about how a space feels. If your church is considering adding new space, an expert architectural team can help navigate the path to a multi-purpose design that provides the best value and that serves your ministries’ immediate needs. By starting with careful planning, a multi-use space will have the flexibility for unlimited functions, ensuring opportunities for future growth. One versatile space will save on costs, without sacrificing a powerful collective experience. David Strickland is a principal at CDH Partners, an Atlanta-based architecture and interior design firm. He has designed church spaces since 1985, and he has led dozens of award-winning projects. His passion for connecting to each church’s vision helps sparks creative designs that carry out their valuable mission.