Posted in Architecture on June 5, 2015 10:42 am EDT

Tomorrow’s Church Architecture

A veteran church architect considers church design, technology and the future -- and asks for your feedback on what the next 15 years will look like.









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TAGS: architectural design, business, collaboration, future, technology, urban planning,


By Jerry L. Halcomb, FAIA

I would love to hear from you, as church architects, designers and planners, about what you think of “how right I was back then” and where you think the next 15 years will take us.

Before TiVo, Netflix or the Internet, in the popular CBS-TV program Early Addition, Gary Hobson mysteriously receives the Chicago Sun-Times daily newspaper one day early, indicating tomorrow’s events today. By knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow, Gary has the opportunity to do something to change the outcome of events. Other than God’s Word, we do not receive an Early Addition to know what tomorrow will bring. We can, however, look at the past in conjunction with changing culture and lifestyle trends around us to see where the church may be headed.

Is the thinking outlined here far-fetched? Reality illustrates that it's not.

About 15 years ago, I wrote an article called “Church Architecture, in the Future.” The following are a few of the things I included in my “crystal ball” thinking at the time. I would love to hear from you, as church architects, designers and planners, about what you think of “how right I was back then” and where you think the next 15 years will take us. Back in 2000 my predictions were:

1. More large- and medium-sized churches

2. More use of high technology

3. Seeker-oriented churches

4. Praise and worship elements

5. Multiple choices for services

6. User-friendly buildings

7. Service-oriented facilities

8. More cafes and coffee shops

9. Learning center development

10. Emphasis on preschool/nursery

11. Demand for good planning

12. Renewed life for the urban church

13. Facilities customized for each church

14. Outsourcing commonplace

15. Staff facility managers

16. Retirement housing

A vision for the future

Back then, I thought that in these sometimes less-than-friendly times, the church could be a one-stop destination, bringing a lifestyle of activities all together in one place. I knew that all churches would not look like this, but some just may. All of this came to me while sitting in the Nashville, Tenn., Opryland Hotel, an enormous complex with multiple large atriums connecting buildings of various usage such as restaurants, shops, theaters, meeting and convention facilities. The hotel draws busloads of visitors into the facilities to eat, shop, meet, and tour the complex.

Diners are entertained by a light and water show with music provided by a pianist on a balcony playing old favorite country and gospel songs. The environment is exciting, inviting and enjoyable with the water features and lush plants throughout, skylights bringing in the sunlight, pleasant small areas to sit and think, or larger to gather and [experience] fellowship together.

While sitting there, one can envision Opryland Hotel as an example of what could be for a church in the 21st century, a place that accommodates the 21st century way of life for families with dining, shopping, worship facilities, housing and schools, all available in one setting.  continued >>