It’s either daunting or exciting — and sometimes both — to begin planning a church building project with a blank slate. You can dream big and imagine freely. On the other hand, you may be overwhelmed, not know where to start and tempted to copy the design of another church you’ve visited.
The good news is that, in either case, we have some good advice you should follow to ensure your design works the way you need. You always need to begin a church building project focused on your mission.
Your Church Building is a Ministry Tool
We’ve shared before about how every church building should be a tool for ministry. This means that you have to design it well or it won’t function as you need it to. A saw without teeth won’t cut much wood. A church building that’s designed with only your big dreams in mind rather than your vision for ministry won’t help you connect with the people you’re called to reach in your community.
Think back for a moment to the churches built in the ‘50s and ‘60s. In that era, every church building looked the same. They had the same style, the same floor plan, and they were built from the same materials. You certainly couldn’t tell what kinds of people those church buildings were trying to attract. It’s why now, we always customize every church design right from the start.
Form Following Function in Your Church Design
You’ve heard that phrase about form following function – meaning something is designed with the end use in mind. Sometimes you will want the appearance of a traditional church design that echoes those from the ‘50s and ‘60s (though with all the modern conveniences like HVAC and state-of-the-art lighting and sound). That’s if you’re trying to attract people who are hungering for tradition. Sometimes you want a very contemporary church design to appeal to people in your community who are focused on living a life in modern times with modern values. Again, it all comes back to mission.
Never Copy, Never Settle
One thing that rarely works is copying the design of another church. Even copying a modern church building can cause problems. For example, a church design that attracts some demographics may not appeal to others. The successful ministry of a church downtown doesn’t mean those same ministries are going to attract people who live in the suburbs; they’ve moved there with different interests and priorities. This is why we always recommend starting with the church mission and creating a customized church design from there. It’s how, working together with church leaders, we enable ministries with buildings that work.
To learn more about how The McKnight Group puts mission first, and other important aspects of church building and design, sign up for our upcoming i3 webinars. In these free webinars, we share examples about how we customize buildings to meet the ministry needs of each individual church. Sign up today to learn more!