Throughout this year, we’ve been commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of The McKnight Group. Over those fifty years, many aspects of church design have changed significantly, and we talk about those changes in our fiftieth anniversary podcast entitled “Changes.” In a prior post, we shared some excerpts from the podcast related to the physical changes in typical church building designs. This post will focus on some other changes beyond structural design, specifically technology and finance.

Increasing Impact and Shrinking Technology

Obviously, the use of technology in church building spaces has increased exponentially since 1970. Especially because of the coronavirus impact, so many churches today are moving their messaging online. Technology has become a critical factor for churches. At the same time, the dedicated spaces we design for video, audio, and lighting controls in recent years have actually gotten smaller than they might have been 10 or 20 years ago. But the technology is huge.

Many church leaders are also now looking to us for help in remodeling their technology. In our podcast, we talk about one church pastor who was spending considerable time teaching people how to set a dozen lighting controls perfectly for each aspect of a Christmas program—and we were able to update all those controls to a single  panel with programmable settings that allows an usher to just push one button to transform the entire worship space.

Technology’s Transformation of Church Building Materials

One of the unlikely effects of the increase in technological capability is the transformation of interior ambience. In former decades, the feel of a church building space would be determined by the building materials: paint color, stone, carpeting. Now, with dimmable and programmable LED lighting, and movable theatrical lights, the feel of a room can easily be controlled through technology. We’re even doing work now with “environmental projection”—to learn what that’s about, listen to the podcast and click here to see it in action!

Staging Your Church Design with Shifting Funding Sources

Another significant change over the past fifty years has taken place in funding. In our podcast on “Tough Times,” we mentioned the impact of the Dodd-Frank act on church building valuations, as well as a decrease in traditional bank lending. This has led church leaders to become more conservative with their finances. Churches are saving money ahead of time, analyzing church design proposals more carefully, and taking on their church building projects in stages instead of all at once. We have always encouraged church leaders to develop a church building master plan that can be implemented in stages as funding becomes available.

The good news is that denominational and peer-to-peer funding organizations are stepping in to fill the funding gap. Denominations understand their churches much better than banks, making the process easier for church leaders. Creativity is also flourishing because regional leaders understand that not all church visions are the same.

So far, all of our podcast episodes have shared the voices of Homer McKnight, our founder, David McKnight, our President, and Philip Tipton, our Vice President of Architecture. In our final podcast episode, we hear from some of the other employees who have made The McKnight Group so successful. In our next post, we’ll share some excerpts from that episode, but you can listen to all of them now on our fiftieth anniversary page.