Taking an existing structure, built for one purpose, and transforming it into an attractive, functional church building is another example of creative church design. One type of existing structure that often becomes available in communities is an unused school. These facilities are usually spacious, with an internal structure that can be repurposed, with some creativity, into a place of worship. Here’s a case study of how The McKnight Group imaginatively took a vacant middle school and turned it into a new church building.

The Berachah Church’s Vision

The Berachah Baptist Church in Middletown, Ohio needed more space for their growing congregation. Building from scratch wasn’t in the budget, so they started investigating existing structures instead. The search led them to an old middle school that had been educationally vacant for a decade. The school served as a storage facility for the local school system, a need it no longer had, so the building was put up for auction. Church leaders seized the chance to purchase the building and turned to The McKnight Group to transform it.

The Creative Design Process

We went to work on a creative design. One of the initial challenges was the cafeteria pictured here. The space was large, and it was dark. It needed more natural light to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. This was achieved by knocking out a wall, allowing abundant daylight to flood the area. Part of the space became a bright and spacious foyer for the church, warmly welcoming all who entered.

Moreover, the lunch serving line, a reminder of the school’s past function, found a new life as part of the church’s café, also pictured. This innovative repurposing of the space not only catered to the congregation’s need for gathering, but also provided access to the children’s wing.

The Gymnasium: A Multi-Ministry Worship Space

The existing gymnasium was the perfect area for a multi-ministry worship space. It can comfortably seat approximately 500 worshippers and can be used for other activities when needed.

Old School to New Church Building

This last image shows the journey of transformation, from a vacant school to an inviting church building from the outside. Here you can see the new, well-lit entrance and foyer, as well as the refreshed exterior of the building.

The Berachah Baptist Church’s story demonstrates the power of creative design in revitalizing unused spaces.

If you’re inspired by this transformation and eager to learn more about church design and building, we invite you to sign up for our i3 webinars. They’re both free and informative.