Here’s another church building trend for 2022, one about the size of the worship space in your church building. We have seen a definite shift in worship auditorium sizes in recent years. Twenty years ago, the focus was on creating a bigger, better church design and accommodating everyone in a single worship space. Now, more and more church leaders are going with the idea that smaller is better.

Finding the Worship Center Sweet Spot

The days of auditoriums that seated 2500 or 3000 people, and even megachurches that could hold 5000 or 10,000 worshipers, have passed. Now, a majority of church leaders look for a church design that accommodates between 500 to 1200 and sometimes up to 1500 people. Even churches that have much larger memberships are opting for smaller worship venues in their church building complex.

It seems that a worship space holding 1200 people is the sweet spot for helping attendees feel connected and building community in worship. When churches grow beyond that capacity, they are choosing to add additional services or open up other campuses and venues rather than constructing larger auditoriums so that everyone can be together at one time.

The Cost of a Larger Church Building

So, what’s behind this change? In addition to that sense of community, one key element is cost. Huge facilities cost more to maintain, especially as they get older. A large church building complex can carry a cost of $2–3 per square foot annually for maintenance, repair, and replacement, especially after the first five years. Using multiple services or multiple sites can allow you to grow your membership while also being good stewards of the church building you have.

Perception Matters in Your Church Design

Another reason church leaders are opting for smaller worship centers is perception. A half empty auditorium can send the wrong message. Say you include a massive new worship center in your new church design because you see your church growing in the future. When it’s finished, the existing group of worshipers will appear small inside that cavernous space. It can also give a negative impression that the church isn’t thriving when it really is growing.

This isn’t just the case with really large churches. “Smaller is better” works for midsized churches too. For example, even a church with 400 or 500 attendees on Sundays might intentionally build a venue that only seats 400, rather than creating a church design with 800 or 1000 seats in the auditorium. It can then have the flexibility to hold multiple services or expand to another location.

Understanding current church building trends like “smaller is better” can have a concrete impact on your church vision for ministry. That’s why we regularly share the latest church design and construction information in our free i3 webinars. While this year’s series is wrapping up, we will announce our 2023 lineup soon, so stay tuned!