As we blogged recently, multisite church facilities have really gained in popularity since the concept took off back in the mid-1980s. When one church meets in multiple locations, you’ve got many platforms from which to reach new territory without cramping your existing facilities. While not the most common multisite location, theaters are a great option to consider. Here are some reasons good church interior design can address the benefits and challenges inherent with using theaters among your church’s multisite buildings.
The Advantages of Theaters
Obviously, using a modern theater has some great advantages, including excellent seating, a high-quality screen, and a top-notch sound system. Location is typically good, too, because many theaters are in shopping areas that draw people from all over your target area. If people are used to coming to the theater for entertainment, they won’t have a problem driving there on Sunday for church.
Parking also won’t be a problem, because theaters, by their very nature, have lots of parking spaces for patrons. Furthermore, theaters are good ways to reach out to people who might be turned off by a traditional church building. And with recent changes in the economy—and the ease of renting movies at home—more of these facilities are actually available nowadays.
The Disadvantages of Theaters
Of course, theaters aren’t designed with church needs in mind, so there are some disadvantages. One major issue is that there are no classroom spaces for children. Platform space at the front of the theater can also be limited in many theaters.
Also, as with schools, you can’t store anything in a working theater during the week, and the space usually won’t be available for midweek worship services or meetings. This means you have to bring everything in each week and dedicate a lot of time to setup and teardown every single Sunday.
Using Church Interior Design to Your Advantage
Fortunately, there are creative ways to make any theater work for your church’s needs. With a good interior design plan, for instance, you can re-imagine the lobby as a gathering space and perhaps even arrange to use the refreshment stand as your café.
Also, the ticket counter area can make a great welcome kiosk where you can station people to help visitors find their way around. Of course, you’ll also want more welcome teams out in the parking lot—in addition to very visible and creative signage—so visitors will know that they’re in the right place.
Since many theaters include multiple venues, you often have multiple spaces to work with, which would mean that you could set up children’s worship in some of the smaller theater spaces.
And if the theater isn’t currently open for business, you can possibly sign a multiyear lease that includes the option to remodel or upgrade some of those theater spaces to better meet your needs. With a good interior design plan, you can make the largest theater feel more like a sanctuary, and the smaller spaces function better as kids’ classrooms. And with a multiyear lease, you may also have the freedom to meet during the week.
Stay in the Zone
One other consideration that we want to mention is zoning. Churches are usually allowed in most zoning classifications, but every city and township is different, so make sure to find out about the specific rules and regulations in your area. Zoning regulations can also impact the size and shape of your outdoor signs, as well as required setbacks (the space between the property line and your buildings or signs).
A Cohesive Interior Design Is Important—Learn More!
While multisite facilities are a great way to grow your church and expand your vision, every type of multisite building has its challenges. Having a thorough and cohesive interior design plan will help both visitors and members feel at home, even in a theater setting. For more information on developing a good interior design plan for your church, visit our website today and sign up for our free i3 webinar series.