Trends in Modern Church Design
Today’s modern church has experienced a noticeable change in culture which has driven a shift in trends in modern church design. Church leaders are asking for more social interaction, smaller auditoriums, and opportunities for multi-generational connections. This evolution has driven church leaders to reevaluate what’s important in the design of their facilities. Traditional churches were primarily centered around the sanctuary. The church-going experience was focused inward, reflective, and contemplative. While worship is certainly the focus of contemporary style churches, more attention is given to encouraging connections and interactions between people. Time together before and after worship have become as important as worship itself. Entry and lobby spaces are now receiving more attention. These areas, once a place to pass through, are growing into the social centers of the church. They have become the primary location on campus that fosters growth of church culture.
Entry lobbies provide a welcoming first impression of the church to newcomers. These spaces are the living rooms of the facility. Within the lobby, most churches want to communicate who they are as a community. The entire experience establishes the culture of the church – street presence, parking convenience, pedestrian paths. The design of these spaces give opportunities to share ministries and core values. Most contemporary churches provide a visible expression of their identity through the use of branded colors and graphics. Coordinated with social media messaging and community connection points, the growing blend of signage and graphics with technology, furniture, and interior design create the environmental tools that allow each church to accomplish more of their cultural and ministry goals.
The church is moving in the direction of becoming a social center of the community. In many cases, there is increased interest in transforming their lobbies into everyday gathering places, growing into 7-day a week facilities.
Providing cafes with varying amenities have been a focus for several years. However, these spaces are moving beyond Sundays, providing opportunities for small groups to meet during the week and attracting entrepreneurs looking for alternate places to work. Seating options vary from comfortable sofas and chairs to café tables with stools. Technology includes free Wi-Fi, charging stations, easy access to electrical outlets and video displays broadcasting television programs.
Children’s play areas are important for women’s small group meetings and making the lobbies more active on Sunday. In the interest of cleanliness, the design of indoor playgrounds are moving from tubes to more open climbing activities.
Multi-use spaces are increasing in number across each facility. The ability for a room to be one use on Sunday and a different use during the week has become an attractive addition to many campuses.
Is Bigger Still Better?
Some feel there is a decrease in church investment in large auditoriums, opting for more intimate, small worship spaces. While we recently opened a 2,200 seat auditorium for Life Church Memphis, Collierville Campus, we are working with several churches built a decade ago with flat floors and movable chairs in the range of 400-1000 seats, and many completing construction are in the 1500+ seat range. Most of these churches would like to update their image to match an advancement in their culture. Many are asking to add stadium seating and current technology, allowing for more worship intimacy and better sight lines. Elevated seating reduces the perceived size of the space, adding a new level of energy to the room.
Who Is This For?
When designing churches today, many wonder if millennials are a driving force of the design. We believe the design needs to be intentionally relevant to all ages. The building needs to provide opportunities for connections between multi-generational congregations while satisfying the needs of each generation individually. The facility needs to be flexible to adapt to the ebb and flow of different age groups using the building.