Architecture and the success of church ministry

How do you measure success in your Christian ministry? Generally speaking, success is the accomplishment of a specific aim or purpose. From an architectural point of view, a particular ministry can be most successful when the building doesn’t get in it’s way, when its design elements are exactly suited to your ministry requirements. More exciting than that, with a little forethought the building design can actually support and enhance your ministry. Here’s how we do it.

What are your ministry requirements?

We survey each ministry team to find out what their exact requirements are. How many people are involved? What are the demographics? When does the ministry happen? Do they have any special requirements? What kind of lighting? Windows? Access to other ministry spaces? Only then, using past experience and rules of thumb, can we design a space that is precisely suited to the ministry.

For example a sunday school classroom for 30 elementary school children will be in a secure, limited-access location, with a floor area of 600 square feet, with sufficient airflow for ventilation, will have a sink and cabinets for storage, windows to the outside, and located close to the washrooms. It will be painted bright cheerful colours, have playful floor and ceiling patterns, and adjustable lighting. It’s a room that enables children to focus and learn, to have fun, and to better interact with the teachers and each other. It’s a place they want to be in, and stay in.

Developing proper space relationships

We also carefully consider each room or space in it’s larger context. That is, it’s located in a particular place within the building but adjacent to other important support spaces. During the design stage we think of the individual rooms as pieces in a big puzzle which we shuffle and adjust until the best picture emerges. The result is a logical, ordered, sensible plan perfectly suited to your ministry objectives.

For example, an office area might be self contained, located near the front entrance for surveillance and security, have a work area, kitchen, bathrooms and enough room for visitors. It might be located along exterior walls to benefit from natural light and views. The offices have acoustical properties conducive to work and speech, yet enough separation from each other for private conversations. A space like this enables your staff to do their work efficiently, cheerfully and effectively. It’s a space that doesn’t get in the way of their ministry.

The importance of proportions

We also consider the vertical dimensions of a space to ensure the best possible proportions in relation to the human body. A worship space will be taller than an office space. A foyer for gatherings will be a medium height, while washrooms can be shorter. Properly proportioned spaces just feel right.

Good buildings enable your ministry

Often ministry team leaders are experts on their ministry only, and building committee members may not have an idea of how the building functions as a whole. That’s where we come in. Architects are Big-Picture thinkers, so by being completely aware of your total ministry we can imagine how all the parts will coexist peacefully. It’s about good architecture, yes, but it’s also about enabling your ministry.

For help with reconciling your ministry goals with building design contact David or Kelly at Parker Seminoff Architects or leave a comment below.

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