Royal Oak First United Methodist Church
In my previous post, I discussed the prediction: “Churches that love their model more than their mission will die” and how that can apply to the design of early to mid-century church building models. In this post, I’ll continue to examine this premise through the eyes of a first-time visitor or new member family.
Walking into an unfamiliar church building for the first time can be a little intimidating, especially if the building layout requires you to traverse through unidentified corridors, spaces or stairs to get to your destination. This is especially true for parents looking for the nursery or children’s drop-off area.
The maze-like configuration not only makes for a frustrating experience, it can create an isolated sensation. I’m sure some of you reading this can relate to this experience. For those who have not, I’m sure it wouldn’t be an experience that would encourage you to visit a second time.
Unfortunately this scenario is quite common with older churches that were designed with a compartmentalized layout. This is not an unfair criticism; it was the architecture-de-jour. Architecture and technology design are much different today. The focus is on interaction, engagement and connection, extending an open invitation to visitors as well as regular members.
Genesis the Church
Church design today takes an about-face from compartmentalized settings to literally breaking down the barriers. For example, creating large open areas enhanced with technology. The most obvious reason for these large open spaces is for people to connect.
The act of personal connection has slowly been disappearing due to email, text and voicemail. We’re becoming a more isolated society, which is contrary to the God-given need for human interaction. Providing strategically located open space for people to meet and greet each other is important not only to strengthen the body, but also to nurture meaningful community outreach and engagement. It also removes the mystifying maze of the endless hallways!
We believe those who visit today’s transformed churches will come away with the thought, “this isn’t my grandfather’s church!” Instead of solemn separation, we hope they feel warmth, connectedness and acceptance.
In next week’s post, I’ll explore why the front door isn’t the true gateway into the church anymore.