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,
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.
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
• 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
• 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.