Does Your Outside Space Reflect Your Inside Ministry?

These two pictures tell the tale of two shopping malls…

BR-VR011914

The mall at the top is pretty much just like the mall I grew up going to. At this mall you park as close to the entrance as you can, then go inside to find the store you are looking for and maybe stroll up and down the covered atrium. All of your favorite stores are facing and found inside. This particular mall has an Apple Store, but you have to know that ahead of time.

The shopping mall on the bottom is reflective of the new breed of malls that cropped up. In fact, they are not even called shopping malls anymore – they are “Lifestyle Centers.” The major difference here is that you park near the store you are going to, and maybe stroll up and down an outdoor promenade. All of the stores are facing outside. This mall has a PF Changs, it’s easily seen from the street.

Which of these two malls would you rather visit?

Which shopping experience is more engaging as you pass?

Does exterior presence (and life) really matter if the content is the same inside?

Actually, these two photos are of the same shopping mall in Akron, OH. Three to four years ago the mall developer added the exterior-focused retail stores to the front. In my estimation, as an attempt to draw more shoppers and respond to our experienced-based culture. Developers know this: people respond to the experience that appears to be more pleasant.

Many churches are more like the “other side” of the mall, a great experience inside, hidden by the lack of life outside.

What if the church turned the ministries inside out?

How could an engaging worship experience be seen from the street, if not literally?

Could an incredible Kid’s Ministry be known in the community, before anyone steps through the door?

What kind of movement and life can churches present, maybe even just by moving the greeting time outside?

What can you do THIS Sunday to bring the inside-out at your church? 

Read more from Bryan here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Utilize the Power of Story on Your Church’s Campus Facility

Over the past several years we have become acutely aware of the essence of “story.” We hear this term used in the church world and in business settings.   It has been used to prompt people to open up about their lives and life experiences… to tell their story. On a corporate level it is the interwoven thread used to identify the mission, vision, direction, and passion of organizations.

The reality is, we all have a story.   Some of these stories are sensational while others may seem mundane or routine. Others grip our emotions and pull on our heartstrings while transforming us into the story.   What has struck me lately is that everyone has a story to tell and that people are reading— taking in— those stories even when we are not aware.

We do not have to write a screenplay or book to tell our story. When we walk into a room full of people, you will start to read certain aspects of people’s stories, and they will start to read yours as well. They might not see the entire story, but they will see some pretty obvious chapters in that story.   The way you enter the room will tell the chapter of your story related to your self-confidence or possibly your physical attributes or limitations. The way you shake the hands of the other guests will convey yet another part of the story, as will the clothes you are wearing… and you may not have even said a word. In addition, the room itself tells a story.

Did you know that your church campus tells a story? Why Church Buildings Matter: The Story of Your Space offers a unique perspective on the importance of church buildings. These buildings are vastly more important than most understand. The church campus and the story of the people in the church go hand-in-hand and are interwoven into each other. We cannot neglect the power of story and how our church facilities communicate a story.

Church facilities and all of the things associated with “story” and “setting” will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to these things can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need   to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. That would be a huge mistake.   “Story” is all around us, in virtually every aspect of our daily experiences, which means that our church and ministry facilities also tell a story. Here are a few important questions to ask about  your church facilities:

  • What story are your facilities or campus telling?
  • Are we intentional about the telling our story through our facilities?
  • Is the story congruent with who we are, who we think we are, what we believe and value, and who we want to reach for Christ?

Why Church Buildings Matter explores each of these areas in more detail. I believe as we become more acutely aware of the impact of our ministries’ unique stories, and how they impact our guests and the people God has called us to reach in our community, the greater the impact we will have on fulfilling our calling.

Get Tim’s book here.

Why Church Buildings Matter

Read more from Tim here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Cool

Tim Cool

Tim Cool is the Founder and Chief Solutions Officer of Cool Solutions Group, a company leading organizations to be intentional with the planning, development and life cycle management of the facilities God has entrusted them. Tim has assisted nearly 400 churches over the past 28 years, throughout the United States, with their facility’s needs. Tim has been married to his best friend, Lisa, for 29 years and resides in Charlotte, NC with their 17-year-old triplets. They are active members at Elevation Church.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Trends in Church Buildings – Why Bigger is Becoming Smaller

The megachurch has been a topic of interest for years. There are more every year and their growth rate is increasing. In other words, it’s not just that there are more, their rate of increase is growing.

Yet, when most people think of megachurches they not only think of mega-numbers, but also mega-facilities.

I thought it worth a moment to consider megachurch BUILDINGS—and what trends in such buildings might mean. Interestingly, some mega churches have begun to think differently about their facilities. These trends are not only fascinating, but I also find them encouraging several ways.

The last church I pastored had a 3,000 seat sanctuary. That’s a big room. But, what is interesting is that the church would not build that building if they could do it again—and that’s a theme I consistently hear.

What are the Trends in Big Church Buildings?

One of the trends I have observed in a qualitative way is that fewer churches are building large spaces specifically meant to accommodate thousands of people. In 2009 I posted a blogpost expressing our findings as we searched for gathering spaces of 5,000 seats or more. It would seem that being a megachurch does not necessarily imply having mega-facilities even if they maintain mega-numbers.

While the number of megachurches has increased, my (unscientific) observation is that sanctuaries have not grown at the same pace. At the time I wrote that post (2009) the average main sanctuary seating capacity in the typical American megachurch was 1,400 at most. This is large, but nowhere near 5,000. It seems that gathering spaces of growing mega-churches continue to get smaller. There seems to have been a substantial shift from the days of several thousand-seat sanctuaries to smaller venues. There are certainly exceptions, but I’m sensing a trend—and I’ll do more formal research on that later.

From Mega-Facilities to Multiplying Facilities

The decline of large church buildings points to a shift in ministry methodology. Many of the largest churches have begun to favor multisite expansion or church planting partnerships. While the large, larger, and largest churches continue to grow ever larger, they do not require larger spaces in the process—just more spaces (which tend to still be large!).

Simply put, implementing the multisite model compresses down the magnitude of the cavernous sanctuary. And, I do wonder if such buildings might be combined with a better multiplication strategy for a greater community impact.

At least in the American context today, the gigachurch, consisting of 10,000 or more members or attendees, often grows by adding sites and services rather than square footage to their buildings. New Spring Church in South Carolina provides a prime example. Pastored by Perry Noble, New Spring runs about 23,000 people on a given Sunday. However, their campuses do not seat 10,000 or even 5,000. Instead, there are multiple services and multiple technological means to distribute the message to other campuses.

Similar models like Saddleback implement video technology on many different sites, which allows those models to have 20,000 or more people attending their church on a weekly basis. Ultimately, the growth has shifted drastically away from continual building expansion to continual site expansion. As Rick Warren explained to me recently, their growth happens like a tree—not at the trunk, but at the branches. My guess is we will hear more thinking like that in years to come—smaller (but still very big) buildings, with more locations that are also smaller.

This trend is not only true of gigachurches, but seems to the trajectory of megachurches also. One example is Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC. Calvary is an older established church that has little room to expand at their central campus. Under the leadership of their former pastor Al Gilbert, Calvary voted to open a second campus in an area of town where over 30% of their existing members already lived. The attendance at Calvary’s new campus has more than doubled over the last 3 years, many of the new members having no prior connection to Calvary. That would have been unheard of a few decades ago.

The Benefits of Multisite Mega-Ministry

Part of the point is not really “new” news: more and more giga and megachurches are multiplying their ministry through multi-campus ministry. Perhaps you remember Warren Bird’s recent research that concluded;

  • Multisite churches reach more people than single site churches.
  • Multisite tends to spread healthy churches to more diverse communities.
  • Multisite churches have more volunteers in service as a percentage than single site.
  • Multisite churches baptize more people than single site.
  • Multisite churches tend to activate more people into ministry than single site.

However, my additional point is that multisite may very well lead to smaller (and, I hope) recyclable buildings that does not lead to a proliferation of large, empty church caverns when neighborhoods change.

Also, part of the megachurch debate centered on whether or not the model could sustain itself in years to come. Since then, megachurches have shifted their philosophy from building bigger and bigger to spreading further and further through multisite ministry. I imagine that will improve sustainability as well.

Will the Megachurch Movement Endure?

It is quite possible that the evangelical landscape will include more megachurches than ever in the future. Why? Well, churches grow. Then they grow more…and then they grow some more.

While the evangelical landscape will include more mega-churches than ever, I would contend that the vast majority of those megachurches will be multisite churches. Whether you like the megachurch or not, the trends point to the fact that the megachurch phenomenon is not over, but it actually increasing in its growth.

Furthermore, I think it is now beginning to get its second wind through the multisite expansion model. When it comes to the megachurch the model of bigger church buildings is declining, but new campuses are springing to life all over the landscape.

There are lots of implications here—some good and some bad. But, it appears that bigger churches are having smaller buildings—and more locations.

I’m not sure I know all the implications of this yet—and I’d like to hear your input in the comments, but a new reality is emerging and—with all such shifts—it promises both challenges and opportunities.

Read more from Ed here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Creating Your Own Space for Gospel Hospitality

Recently, our church (Redeemer Presbyterian Church) embarked on a hugely ambitious capital campaign to purchase the first of several ministry center facilities in Manhattan, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. Why are we doing this?

It has become increasingly clear that this effort represents good stewardship. Hospitals and colleges in major cities have learned that it is considerably less expensive to conduct programs in owned facilities than in rented ones. For long-term stability and financial stewardship, we should acquire our own facilities.

Ultimately, however, the most exciting reason for purchasing a building has little to do with money. The most important reason for seeking to secure space in the city is gospel hospitality.

HOSPITALITY AND THIRD PLACES

In modern English, the word “hospitality” conveys little more than the word “entertaining” does, but in the Bible it is something important and radical (Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Timothy 3:2; and Titus 1:8). Contemporary Western culture leads us to think of the home as a private enclosure, only to be shared with a few intimates. The New Testament, on the other hand, calls Christians to see their homes as neither strictly private nor public space— but as places where we routinely share our homes’ safety and comfort as spaces to nurture others.

Hospitality incorporates newcomers into common, daily household activities—eating a meal, sharing a cup of coffee, or painting a room. The Greek word for hospitality—philoxenia—literally means the “love of strangers.” Christians are called to an attitude of welcome, not only toward other believers but also toward those who are currently outsiders to the faith.

In most of the neighborhoods where we are seeking property, young single professionals live in extremely tiny spaces. They would be glad for an urban space that welcomes them without trying to sell them something, and that could perhaps provide them with quiet space, a free wireless network, a place to meet others, food, and drink, as well as offering space for family activities and cultural events. We want to say to our neighbors, “This is not just our place; it is also your place.” In a location as suspicious and tough as Manhattan that message will probably take some time to get through – but that is the message.

>>Download the entire article by Tim Keller here as he unpacks the importance of Gospel Hospitality.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Keller

Timothy Keller is the founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God. He has also mentored young urban church planters and pastors in New York City and other cities through Redeemer City to City, which has helped launch over 200 churches in 35 global cites to date.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

2 Wrong Ways to Think About Church Buildings

I am often invited to speak to a lot of different churches in a lot of different buildings. Some churches obviously put great care and thought into their building. It clearly reflects portions of their theology and serves to further their ministry goals. Others? Not so much.

So, with that in mind, what are some of the most common mistakes pastors make in church design and the building of facilities? In other words, what things should churches avoid when considering church construction?

It seems to me that leaders can go in two different wrong directions with their church building in a society like ours—they can think too trendy or they can think too permanent.

Thinking Trendy

Most of us have probably driven by a church with green windows and roof that looked like it was from The Brady Bunch. These churches built trendy in the 1970s and now they’re regretting that. A photo slideshow of “The Ugliest Churches in the World” finds most of them went for a modern look that’s not so modern anymore.

But, even more than the aesthetic appeal of a church building, I think many churches are going to wish they had not built gigantic multi-thousand seat auditoriums, and many others will regret the quaint columns and brick building on the edge of town.

For example, before planting my current church, I served as an interim pastor for a church in Nashville with a 3,000-seat auditorium. Meeting with the staff before I left, we all agreed that if the church were started today, we would not build in the same way. However, the same can be true for several of the churches I’ve served through a church revitalization process. The building is no longer a help and they wish they had done it differently.

Think about a church like LifeChurch. They are one of the largest churches in the nation, and yet their buildings do not generally seat thousands. There is a definite “technologification” of gathering and the facilities are utilitarian. Now, I think that there are some unintended side effects to this, but is has undoubtedly opened up new possibilities to churches today.

I’ve written before about what I believe the future of multisite will look like—forgoing a large building at the beginning in order to intentionally plant churches and venues across a single region. This method enables churches like Seacoast and others to overcome some of the problems that can be problematic for other multisite methods.

Those who are adapting and planning for the future avoid the pitfalls of trendiness and often build buildings that can be turned into something else. They can be used as a liturgical, contemporary, or traditional facility, but if the church outgrows, they can repurpose. If it declines, they can take appropriate action.

Churches who merely try to stay trendy are in a never-ending pursuit. Styles change. They always have. Those churches whose thinking is driven by current popularity will have buildings that no longer suit their needs and will fade out of style.

Thinking Permanent

Every year, LifeWay Research and Outreach Magazine release a list of the 100 largest churches. Of those, many weren’t in existence 20 years ago, while most of the rest have built a new facility or moved to a new location since then. Some of the biggest churches 20 years ago are now empty shells—either closed or relocated. And, might I add, often great new churches exist where they once were.

The problem is that most churches thought their building was a permanent representation of their congregation.

We may need a better way. Even those who want to build impressive liturgical structures may need to consider whether or not this makes sense, particularly if we do not live in a French village that will be the same in 500 years.

For example, just this week in Minneapolis, a Lutheran church closed. The story explained,

Part of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Bethlehem thrived into the 1950s when as many as 1,800 people filled its pews. But it has struggled, like many urban churches, to hold onto its members. What began with the white flight of the 1960s was only exacerbated by the collapse of manufacturing in the central city, the recession and a growing trend in society away from organized religion, especially mainline Christian churches. In recent years, membership has dwindled to about 150 people, many of them elderly and shut-ins, according to Pastor Micah Wildauer, who split his time between Bethlehem and nearby Hope Lutheran Church. Most Sundays, attendance hovered around 50.

This church is not a mainline church, but an LCMS church, but either way the trend of relocation is clear. I don’t know if this church declined—I do know that it has relocated. Yet its building did not. Now it is closing.

Perhaps churches should consider what business people call the “mall cycle.” A new mall—or lifestyle centers, as they call them now—gets built in an area full of people. In 15 to 20 years, the people have moved farther out, so a new mall is built in that area, leaving the old mall vacant. It recently happened where I live in Tennessee. A large retail store moved 10 miles to be with the growth in the newer development.

Businesses recognize this (at least the smart ones do) and build accordingly. They understand that their building is temporary and will be replaced one day. The business wants to be where the people are, not necessarily where they have been for decades. They know the mall cycle is a reality for them. They know those buildings won’t last forever.

That’s not how a lot of pastors and leaders build churches, though. They build church facilities as if they’ll be there for hundreds of years. They sink the majority of their budget into an enormous building that removes all flexibility from the church.

After population has shifted from their area, they are left unable to go where the people are. Instead, many feel trapped in an attractional ministry model because they are trying to draw in people who do not live near their building.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, Methodists and Baptists planted thousands of churches in areas like Tennessee and North Carolina. How did it happen? Churches, entire congregations, would move down from Pennsylvania and other northern areas to start new churches on the frontier. They had a mobility and flexibility that many churches lack today. Those modern churches cannot move because they planned as if building would be a permanent fixture.

I’ve written extensively (though, at times, begrudgingly) on how churches should respond to neighborhood transition. Yet, at the end of the day, you have to ask—what do you do when the church (which is a who) and the building (which is a where) are no longer in the same place?

Some will say that the answer is house churches– and I am an advocate of such churches. Yet, the facts just don’t demonstrate that house churches are making much of an impact, at least proportionally. So, for now, most will build buildings and they need to do so discerningly.

The Impact of Wrong Thinking

There are some long-term theological consequences from failing to think biblically when it comes to a church facility. When we glorify trendiness, we unite the message of Christ with faddish architecture, giving the impression that the unchanging gospel will one day become irrelevant.

When we view our building as our legacy—as the thing that will last—we tie the church, which Jesus founded and against which the gates of hell will not prevail, to a building, which will crumble and collapse in a matter of time.

Now, I mentioned several kinds of churches in the article– big and small– and some might say I am being critical of the big church or the more traditional/liturgical church. In both cases, that misses the point. These observations partly come from the pastors of those churches who wished they had built differently (and probably will next time). And, for that matter, trends show that there will be more, not less, megachurches in years to come. I just think many will reconsider their building strategy (as will churches of all sizes).

I’ll address more of the transcendent issues related to church architecture later, but for now: when church leaders allow a misplaced desire for trendiness or a mistaken view of their permanence to drive their conversations and decisions, they are likely making a mistake that will hinder their work well into the future.

Read more from Ed here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Pal's Pen — 09/18/14 1:06 pm

So, they're building another one? Seriously? They're can't be anything right about that in America. There is currently over $238 Billion in church edifices in America sitting empty on average 164 out of 168 hours a week. And, you guys dare to preach about good stewardship? We need more edifices? Seriously? Isn't the reason they're still spending countless millions and millions more on new edifices is because they're incapable of working with other mega-star pulpiteers because of their EGO - Elmer Gantry Obsession? If mega-churches are so "successful" then why is the culture getting darker and darker by the day? What identifiable measures can you give beyond the attendance that they are having any real impact on the culture? Research shows we only remember 5% of what is lectured to us. Yet, these mega-churches center the greatest amount of time, energy, and money on getting people to answer a Sunday morning Simon Says cattle call to hear a lecture. Have an explanation? Please, wake up and smell the coffee. Take it Home where the heart is, where it started, and where it belongs!

Paul Hallam — 08/24/13 10:20 am

Your article & comments were very interesting though they do not completely address the issue of the dynamic of large gatherings and the need for such. Pastors and Leaders do have to respond to the "now" in church life not just the " then" . It's often amazing how God provides for the leaders who are motivated by the current need and not overly concerned about the future as nrly God knows this fully. Therefore the building issues you comment on will never be a science but will differ from church to church and from culture to culture and indeed from region to region therefore it is never going to be conclusive. God bless & thanks for the observations . Paul - Lead Pastor - The Lighthouse Mcr & Salford UK

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

An Architect’s Secret Weapons: Environmental Design

Do you know what environmental design is? If you’re not in the “industry” you may have never heard that term, but if you’re a living, breathing American and aren’t living under a rock, then you experience it everyday when you go out in public. Environmental design is a broad discipline but at its core (when discussing built environments) it is a key element in transforming a building into an experience. Every store, restaurant, cool night club, theme park, and museum you’ve probably ever visited uses environmental design at some level to immerse you in their brand.

ED-1

Environmental design typically incorporates graphics, theming (whether 2D or 3D elements) and signage to carry forward the brand or tell the “story” of the space. Retailers get it, and they know how important it is to create an environment that transforms the simple act of shopping into an immersive experience, even though many of the “shoppers” don’t realize this subconscious manipulation is happening to them. They just think, “What a cool store!”

At Visioneering Studios we are working with churches and other clients across the country helping them figure out what their unique calling is and how to communicate their mission to the community through their built environments. We want the design of the site and the buildings to speak to this, and good design does achieve that goal. It’s easier to do this when you design extremely expensive buildings, because you can literally sculpt the building to the desired effect (just see these buildings by Santiago Calatrava or Frank Gehry as examples).

However most clients, and especially churches, don’t have an unlimited budget, so a creative architect must find other ways to achieve that result. Learning lessons from retail, you can take a big, dumb box (like a pre-engineered structure or a simple architectural form) and spend your money on creating specific architectural elements to emphasize the entrance, which then makes the big box just fade into the background as the canvas for your design. Now you’ve got an architecturally interesting entrance and have saved your money by not having to make the entire building an expensive piece of art. To take it to the next level the architect pulls out the third secret weapon…environmental design. (If you missed the first two, you can find them here: weapon one – Color; and weapon two – The Space Between Buildings.)

Now we are able to use screening elements, changeable print and digital graphics, signage, and props to provide some excitement to the building. It doesn’t matter whether it’s interior or exterior, and elements can be designed for installation on almost any surface including portable kiosks, walls, doors, glass, or fabric. This gives you tremendous flexibility and allows you to “tell your story” or communicate your mission or brand to everyone who passes by or stops in, even when nobody else is around.

We achieve this by partnering with environmental design firms like PlainJoe Studios. As either the architect or design-builder on a project, we work closely with the environmental design group during the design phase to integrate their environmental design elements into our architectural and interior design plans to help create a cohesive, multi-sensory experience. The next time you go visit your favorite store or restaurant look around. You might not have noticed the lifestyle graphics on the walls, the branded signage, or the theming elements and dimensional props before, but I bet you will now. Now visualize that same store or restaurant without those elements. It wouldn’t be the same experience would it?

Below are a few more examples of some projects we have done with PlainJoe Studios for various churches across the country. Could your church use a make-over? It doesn’t have to be expensive. Groups like PlainJoe Studios can tailor their custom graphics package to meet whatever budget your church or organization establishes, and a good environmental graphics package can typically be provided starting at just a few dollars per square foot. Obviously you could spend a lot more than that too, but you don’t necessarily have to in order to get some big impact in key areas of your facility. Good design and creative environments are inviting and make people feel comfortable. So, who wouldn’t want to make a good first impression on visitors before they even have a chance to meet your people or hear your message?

So which one of these environments do you like best?

ED-2A

 

ED-3A

 

ED-4A

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jody Forehand

I am the national Vice President of Operations for Visioneering Studios, an architectural, urban planning, construction, design, and development firm based out of Irvine, California with other offices in Phoenix, Denver, Austin, Chicago, and Charlotte (which is where I’m located). Every day is an incredible journey and I’m excited to have the opportunity to work on some amazing projects with some of the most dynamic and fastest growing churches in the country as well as spend time with incredible people both as coworkers, clients, and friends.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

An Architect’s Secret Weapons: The Space Between Buildings

What would you say if your architect told you he could design you a space that is beautiful, functional, and spacious, and it would only be about 10% of the cost per square foot of the typical building? You might ask him what he’s been smoking, or you might say “I’ll take it!” before you even hear what it is. Too often architect’s forget about this secret weapon. The space between buildings can be an amazing environment, and guess what…you don’t have to put a roof over it or air condition it and that’s where the cost savings come in.

Shopping center behind a sea of parking

Shopping center behind a sea of parking

Town Center Mall Aerial

Typical Mall is an island in a sea of parking

Great outdoor space can change the entire experience of being on a site and visiting a building. When attention is paid to the arrival sequence from the time you visually see the site, drive onto it, park your car, and walk up to the buildings, you can create an exciting experience out of a typically mundane one. Picture your average Big Box shopping center on one hand with its sea of parking facing the road and compare that to New Urbanist developments that creatively find a way to stash the cars and move you right into a pedestrian friendly environment.

Vickery Village shopping center with great spaces between buildings

Vickery Village shopping center with great spaces between buildings – Cumming, GA

Baxter Town Center - Fort Mill, SC - Pedestrian Friendly New Urbanist Development

Baxter Town Center – Fort Mill, SC – Pedestrian Friendly New Urbanist Development

Make no mistake, cars are a part of American culture, and unless you are in a dense urban environment with good public transportation, which most of the country is not, you are not going to get away from having a significant amount of a site dedicated to parking, but the parking lot doesn’t have to be your most prominent feature if you have a good design team. I don’t want to spend too much time discussing parking here, because my main topic is the space between buildings where people interact and where true community has a chance to develop.

Millennium Park in Chicago

Millennium Park in Chicago

Throughout history outdoor public space has been the center of community life for people. Whether it was the Greek Agoras, the Italian Piazzas or the American town square, people have a desire to come together in an environment that is appealing in design, comfortable to hang-out in, and where they can enjoy God’s creation outdoors. Even in the harshest environments of extreme cold and extreme hot climates these spaces are being developed. The weather may not be conducive to outdoor activity every day of the year, but when it’s nice these places fill up. Environment’s don’t get much harsher than Chicago (freezing, snowy, windy winters and hot, baking summers), but head out to Navy Pier or Millennium Park on a nice day and the places are packed with people. If they can develop great outdoor environments in a climate that harsh, then what’s your excuse for not doing it on your site?

Navy Pier in Chicago

Navy Pier in Chicago

Navy Pier in Chicago

Pedestrians enjoying Navy Pier in Chicago

How much more would it have cost to take all these great outdoor environments and put walls around them, throw on some roofs, and air condition and heat those spaces? Plus how different would they feel? There’s a reason no indoor malls are being developed anywhere in the country anymore while New Urbanist open air Town Centers are popping up everywhere. People like to be outside and developers don’t have to build huge enclosed “spaces between buildings”…it’s a win-win for everyone.

Church with Mall-type Parking

Church with Mall-type Parking

 

Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, CA with pedestrian friendly layout

Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, CA with pedestrian friendly layout

Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, CA with great spaces between buildings

 

These same concepts can be applied to church campus designs. Churches often get stuck in a rut called “tradition” or “the way it’s always been done.” With church design that usually means plopping the building down in the middle of the site and then surrounding it with parking, just like the malls and shopping centers do. Church leaders and church designers could learn some lessons about creating places people enjoy coming to that include great outdoor public spaces that are “gifts” back to the community. Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, CA is a good example of this intentional decision to incorporate pedestrian friendly design features and create interesting and inviting “outdoor rooms” between the buildings.

If you are a church planter or pastor of a church and you are contemplating your first building project or an expansion of your current campus, wouldn’t you want to develop spaces that your neighbors would desire to visit, and that your congregation would enjoy hanging out in between services and during the week? The “old school” church site and church facility sits empty six and a half days a week. Is that really good stewardship considering the amount of money being invested in land and building costs? Isn’t it a better investment to make your building and the spaces between them serve a purpose and serve the community the rest of the week? Isn’t getting people on your site a win-win? They can see that you’re not some “scary and secretive institution” and that you care enough to provide these great spaces with no strings attached. Before you start your next project figure out how to turn your church inside out so passers-by can see “community” happening right in your front yard every week.

Where is your favorite outdoor room? What features does it have and how could they be used as an outreach tool on your church expansion project? If you missed the post on “Weapon One”, you can read it here.

Read more from Jody here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jody Forehand

I am the national Vice President of Operations for Visioneering Studios, an architectural, urban planning, construction, design, and development firm based out of Irvine, California with other offices in Phoenix, Denver, Austin, Chicago, and Charlotte (which is where I’m located). Every day is an incredible journey and I’m excited to have the opportunity to work on some amazing projects with some of the most dynamic and fastest growing churches in the country as well as spend time with incredible people both as coworkers, clients, and friends.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

An Architect’s Secret Weapons: Color

What turns a building into a work of art? What makes good architecture stand out from the masses of boring buildings? These are all questions of opinion. Most people don’t know the answer to these questions, but they know a good building when they see it. They may not know why they like it, or what specifically makes them like it…they just know it’s good.

This next series of posts is going to discuss some of the secret weapons in the architect’s arsenal to pull off great designs. The exciting thing I’m going to share about each of these is also that they can all be done without busting the budget…in fact this first item probably gives a project more bang for the buck than anything else you can do.

What is this ultimate secret weapon? Color. Yep, that’s it, simple color.

Central Christian Beloit

Central Christian Church – Beloit, WI. Photo by PlainJoe Studios.

Since my company, Visioneering Studios primarily works with churches, I’m going to aim most of this discussion in that direction. Your typical church architect faces a dilemma when it comes to color…the church building committee. There are usually two outcomes from this dilemma, neither of which is good. Result 1: the building committee doesn’t want to “offend” anyone with color so you get three shades of gray, white and beige throughout the building. Result 2: the building committee lets everyone have an opinion and they pick 325 colors that don’t match with anything.

Nothing changes a room, a building, or an environment as quickly as good color selections. Look at the ads in any magazine (especially architecture or interiors magazines), or just pay attention to the “rooms” shown on any TV show or commercial. You may have never noticed them before because they are usually the “backdrop” for the product being sold or the entertainment show you are watching. But if you pay attention you will find a carefully coordinated and selected color palette in every environment, not plain white, not wildly clashing colors, but complementary, well-orchestrated colors and textures.

Color can set moods. Color can create environments that can be bold and playful, elegant or rustic, comfortable and uplifting. Your project can have so much more impact if you find a good interiors person and allow them the freedom to infuse color into your building (inside and out!).

Northside Christian

Northside Christian Church – Spring, TX. Photo by G. Lyon Photography.

On your next project, turn color loose and don’t be afraid to let your interiors person fill your building with a palette of perfection. After all you have to paint every surface or have some finish on it anyway. What other material could you select that doesn’t affect price? Maybe it costs you a few hundred dollars extra for a little more labor “cutting in” between the colors and having to buy smaller quantities of multiple colors instead of one big batch of “white”, but where else could you get more bang for your buck on your next project? Give it a try. You won’t regret it, but even if you do, you can always go buy that “white” paint and have a painting party.

Do you have a favorite building or room? I bet it’s not plain vanilla! Share a link to a picture of it with us by leaving a comment below.

Read more from Jody here.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Environments >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jody Forehand

I am the national Vice President of Operations for Visioneering Studios, an architectural, urban planning, construction, design, and development firm based out of Irvine, California with other offices in Phoenix, Denver, Austin, Chicago, and Charlotte (which is where I’m located). Every day is an incredible journey and I’m excited to have the opportunity to work on some amazing projects with some of the most dynamic and fastest growing churches in the country as well as spend time with incredible people both as coworkers, clients, and friends.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Churches and Grocery Stores Should Be Alike

I have plenty of reasons not to love my neighborhood grocery store: it’s not as cheap as Wal-Mart or Aldi; the fruit’s not as fresh as that big fruit market; it’s not trendy or hip at all like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods; there’s no little cafe; there’s not an over-abundance of organic or grass-fed or free-range or hyper-local; and, when I was little, my father worked for its parent company and got laid off. So I should maybe be bitter or judgmental or snobby or a better steward or something. And yet, I can’t.

I love that store – “the Jewel,” as we call our Jewel Food and Drug store. Amid the mocking from friends who can’t believe I still shop there and in this increasingly competitive world of supermarkets clamoring to meet our every wish and to beat each other’s prices, I cheer for it. Go Jewel!

Truth be told, of course, it’s not exactly the Jewel itself I’m cheering. And I get why my friends prefer other stores – based on price, on quality, on variety, on ethical concerns. I understand why other stores have successfully chipped away at the mighty market share the Jewel once enjoyed. As grocery-store analyst David Livingston has said, when chains like the Jewel sought to become more efficient, they “lost sight of what their customers wanted from them.” And when my friends wanted cheaper or organic or larger variety, the Jewel failed them.

Beyond that, Livingston said stores like the Jewel lost customers because, in seeking efficiencies above all, they got rid of the “human experience” element of grocery shopping. “[The supermarket chains] piled it high and sold it cheap,” Livingston told the Chicago Tribune, “…got rid of all the humanity. It’s food. It’s primal. Yes, we need it to live, but we love it.”

“Folks from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, coming to a place based on a deeply primal need: to seek the sustenance of grace, the Bread of Life”

 

Livingston makes an interesting point. But I respectfully disagree with his definition of “human experience.” I don’t know anything about supermarket efficiencies, but I do know about the “humanity” of which Livingston speaks. And to that end, it’s because of its humanity that the Jewel has kept me as a loyal customer through the years. This neighborhood store is nothing short of a human experience – the human experience in many ways.

It’s the place where I bump into and catch up with neighbors and kids and teachers from school. It’s the place where I chat with cashiers and bakers and deli ladies and baggers who have worked there for the decades that I’ve shopped there. It’s the place where the produce guy smiles every time he sees my youngest child’s chocolate-smeared face from the donut I let him eat (and pay for via an empty bag later).

It’s probably the most racially and economically and religiously diverse place in town. And yet, it’s a place where we all come based on a need steeped in our shared, created humanity: a primal need to eat and a creative need to make what we eat interesting. I love that we meet this primal need together, locally.

In many ways, I believe every trip to the local grocery store is what every trip to local church should be. Folks from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, carrying all sorts of stress and burdens with them, coming to a place based on a deeply primal need: to seek the sustenance of grace, the Bread of Life, and to meet a creative need to make our worship interesting. Like the supermarket, sometimes the “cost” of attending a certain church is a bit higher than we’d like, sometimes the “fruit” isn’t quite as fresh or the ambience quite as trendy. Too often we’re tempted to shop around, to find something better, something more likely to meet our every last whim.

But when we look at churches or grocery stores or whatever as part of our human experience – as part of collectively meeting our primal needs – somehow those tiny whims and fancy trends seem much less important. Certainly less important than neighbors gathering with neighbors, serving, seeking, meeting those needs – creatively and collectively.

This article originally appeared on ThinkChristian.net.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caryn Rivadeneria

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 Simple Rules About Where Your Church Meets

Pastor Rick Warren loves to tell the “moving” story of Saddleback – about how they moved so often in the early years of the church it became a standing puzzle on Sundays to figure out where they would meet the following week. Here’s how he tells it:

If you’ve ever heard the story of Saddleback, you know we moved from one location to another for twelve years before moving onto our campus in 1992. We met in 67 locations in our first 15 years of existence — and broke every church-planting rule that says you must have a consistent meeting location! We grew to more than 10,000 in attendance before we had our first building.

So I’ve never believed that meeting locations are critical to a church fulfilling its mission.

But where you meet to worship is still an important ministry tool for your church. Here are four simple rules we’ve learned at Saddleback throughout the years.

  • Don’t let the shoe tell the foot how big it can get – Never be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to making the most out of your worship space. When your meeting space begins to limit your growth, then it is time to think creatively. Add another service. Find a different venue. Do whatever it takes.
  • Make sure you have enough space – When your service is 80 percent filled, you need to start another service. This is one of the reasons many churches plateau. They don’t believe they need to add another service because they have a few open seats available. When you run out of space, you experience what Pete Wagner calls “sociological strangulation!”
  • Make sure you don’t have too much meeting space – On the other hand, you can have too much space. Many churches have built a building far too large for them to fill. Too much space can keep a church from growing. If you have 200 people sitting in an auditorium that seats 750, it’ll seem like no one is there. But if you have 90 people in a space that’ll hold 100, it will seem as if your church is the place to be. It’s almost impossible to create a feeling of warmth and intimacy when there are more empty chairs than people.
  • The smaller the crowd, the closer the speaker should be to them – As your crowd grows larger, the lectern or pulpit can be moved farther back and raised on a higher stage. If you only have 50 people in a service, put a lectern just a few feet in front of your first row. Forget the stage.

Read more from Rick here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.