Engaging sanctuaries: 3 design “musts”

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Depending on the culture and style of your congregation, your sanctuary might look more traditional or more modern — there are many ways to express the beauty of Christian worship. Despite these differences, however, there are some common design elements that are useful in creating an engaging sanctuary, no matter what your worship style might be.

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Worship takes shape: examining traditional sanctuary design — past, present and future

Fan-shaped at its finest: University Baptist Church — Fayetteville, AR (Photo courtesy of MNB Architects)

As Part 2 of this “Designing Worship Areas” series begins, let’s reiterate a primary concept from
Part 1: Every church is different. Having restated that precept, let’s now look at the traditional worship space and the elements through which it contributes to a person’s worship experience.

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Making sound (system) decisions

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What defines good sound? While some might argue that the concept is subjective, there are certain aspects of a good sound system that we can all agree on. Spoken word should be intelligible. Musical performance should be clear and full-range. And sound should be consistent, everywhere in the house.
Of course, addressing these goals will vary widely from one church to another. Are you welcoming your flock in a 1,000-seat sanctuary? Clearly, your needs will differ from a congregation meeting in a 300-seat chapel, an auditorium, or a converted warehouse space.

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Designing Worship Areas: Laying the foundation

First Baptist Church Milan — Milan, TN
(Photo provided by MNB Architects)

Beginning a seven-part series on worship space design can be a bit intimidating. There are so many avenues to consider, so many topics to discuss, and so many variables which can create completely different outcomes.The most important concept to communicate throughout this series is this: Every church is different. Each church has a DNA which must be honored. This DNA is made up of several factors, or lenses.

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The stewardship of space

Common sense and economics dictate that if you can make better use of your church’s existing multipurpose space, you can avoid costly building programs. The result is more money to fund your growing ministries.

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Multipurpose church design isn’t a trend — it’s a tradition

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In the early days, when settlers would start a new community in America, one of the first structures they built was the church. Today, the tradition continues as more and more churches create their own communities within their local communities.

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The case for maximizing your space

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Sometimes, renovation or expansion makes more sense than new construction.

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Carpets have come a long way under foot

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Today’s carpet can be made from recycled materials, and are readily recycled at the end of their lifespan.

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A safe place to stay

An outreach-minded Massachusetts church creates four bedrooms in the church — using room dividers — so that families in need have a safe, warm place to sleep.

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More than meets the eye

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When it comes to interior elements in a worship space, a pulpit speaks perhaps the loudest.

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