Posted in projects on April 30, 2017 9:15 am EDT

Stick-Around Student Ministry Design

Creative new church space in Tennessee gives students a place, other than home and school, to spend time, connect and worship.

An interior look at the 24,000-square-foot student ministry center in Knoxville, Tenn., designed by Studio Four Design.











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TAGS: architectural design, collaboration, student ministry, third places,


By Church Designer Staff

Grace Baptist Church, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based church with a stated goal of changing lives that change the world, celebrated the opening of its new 24,000-square-foot student ministry center in December 2016, designed by architecture and design firm Studio Four Design, also of Knoxville.

The new facility, built by local Merit Construction, features a 700-seat auditorium, a lobby with a café, a large game room, staff offices, meeting rooms, and quiet spaces for studying and small group fellowship.

“When adding to your campus, it’s so important that you discover what aligns with your goals as a church."

—Stacy Cox, President, Studio Four Design, Knoxville, TN

New thinking

“The theme behind this new student center is ‘a third place,’” says Bobby Thompson, student pastor at Grace Baptist Church. “Students spend time at home and they spend time at school, and after these two places, nearly all of them have a third place that they spend time at. We want this building to be that third place.”

The previous student ministry took place in a shared space, however, about two and a half years ago, the leadership at Grace Baptist Church felt like it was time to make the move to a dedicated facility because they had student services that were reaching max capacity. With the help of Studio Four Design, they dreamed up visions of what they wanted the new space to look and feel like, and began building concepts.

The new student worship and gathering space is designed to encourage students to spend time together. Here, an exterior view.

Crucial collaboration

“Studio Four was very resourceful and instrumental in the creative process,” notes Thompson. “They’re very knowledgeable, and I can ask questions – even ones that don’t have to do with architecture or design – and they’ll answer them. They sat down with me and asked about our vision and what we wanted to accomplish. We took that conversation and together we designed each space in the new center intentionally.”

“When adding to your campus, it’s so important that you discover what aligns with your goals as a church,” says Stacy Cox, president of Studio Four Design. “When we began working with Bobby and the rest of the leadership at Grace, we knew that first and foremost we wanted an auditorium that would handle the amount of students that they currently have while also keeping an eye on growth in the future. Once we knew that, and the theme of ‘a third place,’ we were able to work together to come up with some really interesting concepts that encourage students to spend time at the center.”




Learn more about the companies in this story:

Studio Four Design


Merit Construction


Grace Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tenn.



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