Posted in Design in Mind on March 12, 2014 2:38 pm EDT

Blog: Embracing Change Without Losing Vision

Thoughts on church design evolution and staying true to God









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TAGS: philosophy,


By Lisa Masteller

If there were two things in my life that I have cherished most it would be the gift of sight and sound. As a child I would constantly hum the note to whatever was surrounding me. Be it a refrigerator, a grasshopper, or an airplane flying overhead. I loved hearing sounds. I mimicked just about everything I heard ... (my poor family). But just as strong of a draw was the gift of sight. The shadows and reflection of a landscape under a brightly shining sun. A billowing mist rolling over the mountains on a cold rainy day. The saturation and tone of colors in a flower petal, the intricacies and texture of moss growing on a tree stump or the cool clear water running through my feet in a rocky riverbed.

Everything I experienced was in a visceral way. My imagination was sparked by my surroundings. However, as time has flown by, my vision has somewhat diminished and what has been taken for granted is now become a challenge. I now scour my house for yet another pair of glasses that I have misplaced so that I can read. I admit that it has become a bit despairing as I get used to this, all the while knowing I am "open game" for many a joke from my "oh so loving family".Here's the thing, when you are used to something you've known all your life and it shifts to a new reality, you either languish the change or embrace it.

As a designer I have noticed that I "listen" better with my eyes, than I do with my ears. There are so many clues that have been laid out even before the conversation begins. This is the other side of language that we work within without being told a single word. Everyone has an idea of what they are looking to accomplish with their building, and you make those notes to compliment and spearhead what you will also introduce to make a complete and carefully laid out thought. I would say in church architecture and design, there are some monumental shifts that have already been established within the last 15 years or so, and I admit I struggle to embrace the movement of all things cookie cutter.

For example, here is a glimpse of a given church design punch list:

Front house: large nonslip stage, 2/3 screens- mobile backdrop and backstage storage.

Backhouse: audio, lighting, tech and media stations



Logo design placement, complimenting website along with exterior/ interior printed materials.

Lobby presence- color palate, textures and flow should represent the whole.

Over stimulating youth and kids wing

Parking/First impressions team

And here is what the church of yester-year punch list looked like:

Cross or church affiliated symbols


Coffee/ donut table

Old man at the front door slipping you a mint or piece of hard candy

Permanent baptismal

Communion table

Fellowship hall


In evaluating the differences and changes, it is true to say that for every generation, they aim to correct what didn't work from the last generation, both in heart and function. I'm glad that church design has woken up to a more palatable way to interact with the world among them. Being more inviting than exclusionary. We have definitely looked through the "lens" of a visitor who may have never stepped foot within the church walls and therefore have become more perceptive to how they feel and how they experience their visit. If we have the ability to reinforce the Vision that God has spelled out as well, then more power to us!

I know that soon there will be another shift of "sluffing off" of what we didn't get quite right in order to once again, expose more of Christ and less of "us" in how we approach the overall vision God has purposed for His bride than what we as designers and architects interpret it to be. We have been given a Vision and a pioneering spirit in which to continue incorporating what might be a new way to look at how we build the physical elements as God continues to grow the internal purpose of His body. I pray for all of us abroad as we move into a new year, that what was, will yet be made anew and afresh and even clever, while submitting to God as He continues to inspire us with the "face" of a space devoted to both old and new believers all over this glorious world.

I leave you with this comforting thought.

"[Providence] goes through with its designs, and accomplishes what it begins. No difficulty so clogs it, no cross accident falls in its way, but it carries its design through it. Its motions are irresistible and uncontrollable."

Jonathan Parnell-

May God lead you by His power, grace and vision as you walk into this new year!



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