Posted in Architecture
on September 18, 2014 1:41 pm EDT
The Architect’s Perspective: Annual Fall Church Checkup
Architects are often called upon to be more than creators of space. They are also called to act as consultants on how best to use the components of physical space to promote strong community connections.
Fall is here and there finally is a little cool in the air. It also reminds me of the start of the school year and football season. I love the seasons, and I love the fall because it makes me think of new beginnings and the time to take stock of where we are as an individual, firm, group or church.
"To turn a church around [there needs to be] a strong vision, as well as programs and facilities (tools) to help build the church."
—Jerry Halcomb,President, Studio H Consultants, Dallas, TX
My church in Dallas used to have what was called “Fall Round Up” where the church gathered the members together, (usually with “pledge cards” in hand), with a focus on the new church year. It is about taking a look at where we are financially but so much more. While recently working with a church in a consulting role as project facilitator, I couldn't help but think about what it is that makes a church strong and [makes it] grow. It could be very difficult to do this when a church has found itself on a decline for many years, and now finds itself almost in a “too late” situation.
To turn a church around [there needs to be] a strong vision, as well as programs and facilities (tools) to help build the church. A church should focus on “worship” to bring people to the church and “bible study” to help keep people coming back. Bible study is where you get to know people well -- over time -- and build long lasting relationships and friends. Many churches are struggling because they don’t have the right tools with opportunities to build “community” and “fellowship” along with the facilities to support them.
Important facility considerations include easily accessible parking, clearly seen “front door” entry points, inviting welcome centers, large lobbies for gathering and fellowship, obvious and wide circulation patterns, places to hang out and visit (coffee areas), great interior design to match the homes of the people being reached -- and potentially a bookstore for media.
It is important for a church to take stock and be aware of what the priorities are for the individual church and have a “vision” and a “strategy” to achieve the vision. Churches need a vision with the right ministries and facilities to build the church. Also, it is good to remember that quality is like a magnet to people -- and it is important to take the time to “do it right.” As architects and planners, we can do a lot to help churches as they desire to expand and build facilities to meet their needs and create a new vision for their church.