Posted in Design in Mind on February 26, 2014 5:25 pm EST

Hospital or Haven: Embracing the “Whole-nality” of the Church

A Christian designer and blogger ponders whom the church serves first, and how that relates to design









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TAGS: business, interior design, philosophy,


By Lisa Masteller

There seem to be two contrasting beliefs that are circulating as to why we believe the church exists. As designers, architects and builders, I think this is closely connected to how we approach designing for the church.

The two beliefs are:

The church exists for the unsaved or …

The church exists for the fellowship of believers.

My question to you is, which of these statements resonates with you?

Before we reach a conclusion, let's take a look at how far we've come in the design field, as we moved into the 21st-century church and what that looks like today.

The status quo

In considering the "whole-nality" of a church we start the conversation with such things as logo and online presence. Creating a welcoming touch through a website will hopefully retain the user/visitor long enough to pull him from home to location—offering online “live feed” and downloadable sermon series will give them a glimpse of the church before taking a leap to come visit.

Once a person chooses to visit, the experience looks somewhat like this: As wheels hit the parking lot there is a group of team members dressed in brightly colored shirts, beaming with delight, welcoming and directing the visitor to a “First Time Guests” parking spot reserved just for them.

Once inside they find signage strategically placed for the sheer clarity of taking care of those "You Are Here" moments for anyone who becomes encumbered with the challenge of returning back to their seat when leaving the worship center to go use the restroom.

Does the church exist for "the lost" or does it exist for "the fellowship of believers"? Yes.... And yes. We need to be both a “hospital” and a “haven.”

[In addition,] intentional square footage is staged for a “First Time Guests Desk” where they can pick up their parting gifts before leaving the facility.

All in a day’s work, my friend. We did it! We made an intentional and warm experience that will hopefully draw them in, returning again and again.

We've learned to embrace the person who may have never heard of God before, or had a "bad taste in their mouth," or never came beyond a complimentary Easter or Christmas service.

With such attention to detail, we have become quite good at the whole hospitality side of design—taking what used to be the intimidating factor and putting people at ease.

I couldn't agree more that this is always pertinent in creating a space, especially when your whole purpose is to represent God. One of the most influential people of all time, Walt Disney, said: "You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality."  continued >>